In German society, the skilled trades traditionally represent the highest precision and quality. Yet many skilled trade sectors are increasingly competing directly with industrial manufacturing, and markets are constantly changing. Trades Chambers are reacting to these changes and seeking to uphold people’s appreciation of the skilled trades with innovative ideas and activities. The Handwerkskammer zu Köln (Cologne Chamber of Trades) has launched an image campaign to raise their public profile with the slogan “Skilled trades - the economic powerhouse next door”. The Chamber’s new technology and training centre, the Technologie – und Bildungszentrum für Energieeffizienz und Barrierefreiheit (TBZ), impressively demonstrates that the skilled trades have by no means lost out to industrial manufacturing techniques and will continue to be an economic power in future.
This high-tech building forms a new, assertive urban development starting point for the Handwerkskammer zu Köln training centre. The new building‘s positioning enhances the training centre’s main access, while a new, sound-insulated outdoor area in front of its canteen provides an enclosed space for activities and practice. The main idea behind the building’s design is to promote communication within the building and between the building and outdoor space in the context of a knowledge exchange. This has been achieved by arranging a communicative forum as a spatially connecting element between the ground and first floors and by the centre’s highly transparent facade.
The TBZ facade combines aspects of a communicative forum with the new building’s high technical standards in an innovative way. Oversized, floor-to-ceiling windows offer maximum transparency and promote interdisciplinary knowledge sharing by deliberately stimulating visual communication between inside and out. Light deflecting “Köster RETROLux” (computer controlled) louvers in the space between its (triple glazed) window panes provide protection from direct sunlight and glare in summer without impeding views (in and out). Thanks to vacuum insulation and other state-of-the-art technologies, the building easily surpasses the thermal insulation standards set in the German Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV 2009) by up to 55%. An intelligent, horizontal roof hatch, similar to car sunroof, provides unusually high quality access to the building’s roof. In future, Chamber trainees will to learn how to work on innovative solar power systems using training installations.