Frankfurt – Messe Frankfurt (Frankfurt Trade Fair) is one of the largest exhibition grounds in the word and, as such, mostly consists of large-scale halls and the necessary infrastructure. Recently, Ingo Schrader completed the Northern Gate situated at one of the grounds’ main entry points to the complex, where guards are able to check and secure the vehicles entering the area.
The enormous scale of the exhibition grounds meant that the humble building had to stand out. ‘The architecture of the new gates had to have an iconic character too, being the first impression that visitors get when driving to the fair,’ says Ingo Schrader. ‘We started with circular roofs during the competition, which later were transformed into the oval shape, providing more covered surface on the ground according to functional needs. It turned out to be even more dynamic and beautiful like this.’
Due to the complexity of the site, possibilities for placing the foundations were limited and irregularly spaced, resulting in a seemingly haphazard grid of loadbearing girders. The structure was developed with the engineering firm Bollinger + Grohmann and finally optimised using parametric tools. ‘Architecture and structure are the same thing here,’ Schrader points out. ‘We show the structural elements in the most pure and simple way, without cladding, complicated details and with many different materials.’
The roof’s white colour is meant to underline its abstract geometry and the red of the guard’s booth makes the small structure stand out from the oversized surroundings. According to the architect, designing structures like this brings distinct challenges. ‘Up to 1700 vehicles a day are being controlled at the Northern Gate, efficiency and functionality were very important. The design was something in between designing a minimal house of the Bauhaus masters and working on a piece of furniture or industrial design.’