The 2D and 3D cutting and casting experiments that Barkow Leibinger Architects has undertaken arose from Frank Barkow and Regine Leibinger’s interest in emerging technologies and their firm conviction that, as they say, “Tools shape materials that make forms, not the other way around.”
The Berlin-based architects count themselves fortunate to have the machine-tool company Trumpf as a repeat client. Working with über-engineer Werner Sobek, Barkow Leibinger used Trumpf’s own technology to build a new gatehouse of laser-cut and welded sheet metal on the company’s campus in Ditzingen, Germany. The gatehouse consists of a small functional core topped by a honeycombed steel roof that cantilevers an astonishing 20 meters (66 feet) across the street in front of it. Jury member Craig Hodgetts described the cantilever as “just awe-inspiring.” In their submission, the architects say they wouldn’t have been able to pull it off five years ago.
Barkow Leibinger submitted a portfolio of several cutting/casting projects, including a complex façade of 3D and 2D polygonal, mirrored glass panels for an office building in Seoul, Korea, and a restaurant ceiling infilled with glulam wood cells. But it was the gatehouse and its roof that wowed the jury. “That extruded cut and [fold] actually became a structural roof, and it has a good span,” enthused juror Lauren Crahan. Hodgetts agreed wholeheartedly: “That was a killer—when the thing goes, like, all the way out there … Kabam!”