Ernstings Mini Laden is a casual wear retailer with headquarters in the north of Germany. For its new distribution center — constructed immediately next to its original building, in a rural area on the outskirts of Coesfeld — Ernstings solicited proposals for a suitable architectonic device, which would go beyond mere functionality to provide the company with an enhanced, representative image within the textile sector. The warehouse that was the subject of this invited competition was designed by Gerzi, a firm specializing in the textile industry.
Gerzi was also responsible for organizing and planning the underlying structure of the warehouse: a large concrete frame with masonry infill. In response to the competition invitation, Santiago Calatrava together with Fabio Reinhardt and Bruno Reichlin proposed cladding the new building in a single material, with each facade treated as an independent event. The proposal served as both an exercise in the global application of a single material and as an investigation into the varied ways of using untreated aluminium — a staple of industrial construction — to give expression to a straightforward and predetermined structure. In realizing the project, Calatrava employed aluminum to produce different effects of texture and light. The overall architectural experience arises not only from the rigor with which the material is used, but also from the unity in each use between material and formal language.
Some of these formal motifs have their conceptual origins in Calatrava's structures. Thus, the corrugated southern facade of the warehouse responds to sunlight as if it were a giant sculpture. Its verticality contrasts with the northern facade, which receives light only when the sun is at its zenith and is therefore given a horizontal emphasis, with cladding of a specially formed S-profile. The corners of the building are treated as points of transition. At the same time, certain eleÂ¬ments have been selected to serve as characteristic features. The bridge that links the original building to the northwest corner of the new warehouse is an aluminium-clad space-frame that also houses a conveyor system.
For the doors of the loading bays, vertical slats have been hinged along a curved line and connected at their lower points to a horizontal frame, which can be raised or lowered. When the frame is raised, the vertical slats leave the plane of the facade and,due to the differentiated triple-jointing of each U-shaped extruded profile, assume the shape of a graceful cantilevered roof. These bay doors were the first application of an idea that originated in a sculpture by Cala-trava: a form based on the shape of the human eye. Here, the form became an experiment in kinetics, used to investigate the mechanical transformation of planes in a building.
1983 - 1985
Industriestrasse 2, Bruchstrasse