Having won an international competition in 1992, Professor Marg of gmp Architekten invited Ian Ritchie Architects to collaborate with IPP Ingenieurbüro and HL-Technik in the design and realisation of the huge glass ‘winter garden’ – the centrepiece of the new Leipzig International Exhibition Centre.The glass hall is 244m long, 80m wide and 30m high at the apex – enclosing 350,000m3 – the world’s largest. It includes four separate single storey stone faced buildings for catering, shopping and cloakroom facilities. There is a designated central performance area, and reception, relaxation and meeting areas for conference delegates. Six bridges run through and across the hall 5m above the main floor level. Externally they are enclosed in openable curved glass, linking to the exhibition halls and conference centre. A further bridge links the glass hall at the east end with the other entrance pavilion across a water landscape.
Our design concept achieved simplicity of construction with elegance and economy, allowing the glass hall to appear as a filigree shell within the site’s central landscape. Its vaulted structure is composed of an external orthogonal single layer grid shell of uniform tube diameter stiffened by primary arches at 25m centres. The envelope is composed of low-iron PPG starphire® laminated glass panels 1.5m x 3.125m, suspended 0.5m below the grid shell, and includes discreet perimeter ventilation and fire escape exits at low level, and ventilation/smoke extract “butterfly” openings at high level. Entrances are located in both end walls.
In summer, the opening vents and zones of white fritting on the glass maintain a controlled environment. During exceptionally hot weather de-ionised water can be run from the apex over the glass vault to create evaporative cooling. In winter, under floor heating maintains a minimum internal temperature of 8ºC at 2m above ground level when the outside temperature is -10 ºC. Perimeter heating counteracts downdraughts and eliminates condensation. The exterior of the glass vault is cleaned by two robots suspended from an access cradle which travels along the apex above the “butterfly” openings.
The construction of the glass hall was completed in 1995 at a cost of DM60million – 20 million below budget. The New Leipzig Messe opened in April 1996, and was celebrated with the issue of a special German postage stamp.