The energy concept for the Crystal – the new LVM high-rise in Münster relies on the power of the elements

‘The world’s best city to live in’: Münster in Germany’s Westphalia region was officially awarded this title at the global LivCom Award in 2004. And anyone taking a stroll through Münster would not be surprised that the place had been recognised in this way. Münster is a bicycle city, a Hanseatic city, a university city and the city of the Peace of Westphalia. Münster is home to the beautiful Prinzipalmarkt and countless churches. They say it rains a lot in Münster. But if your life’s this good, it’s easy to laugh about it. “Either it’s raining or the bells are ringing – and when both happen at the same time, it’s Sunday,” is what people living in Münster say about their city. Münster is also very green. Not only as far as parks and recreational areas go but also in regard to the energy that it saves. That’s why it was also awarded the ‘European Energy Award Gold’. It’s therefore fitting that the Münster-based Landwirtschaftliche Versicherungsverein (LVM – Agricultural Insurance Association) has designed its spectacular new building around the reduction of its burden on resources, on sustainability and on reliance on the power of the elements.

So Münster is green. And the best place to see that is at the Aasee, the lake that for 2.3 kilometres winds its way out of the historic town centre towards the south-west. Numerous leisure options and wonderful green areas accompany the lake on its way. The Aasee-Park, for instance, which was named ‘Europe's Most Beautiful Park’ in 2009. The LVM building stands near the Aasee. In fact, it’s not even a kilometre from the LVM’s headquarters to the lakeside.

It’s where a building that has the very dry name of ‘LVM 5’ is currently being built. But everyone has only ever called it the ‘Crystal’ since planning commenced. Which stands to reason because the building ‘grows’ out of the ground like a rock crystal, transparent and with an inclination of up to six degrees, and looks as light as a feather in spite of its mass and size. When the LVM 5 is completed in May 2014, the 18 floors will reach a height of 65 metres. The 450 employees who work for the insurance association, whose dynamic growth is set to continue, will find the same openness inside the Crystal that the architecture promises from the outside. Kampmann Heute turns its attention primarily to the energy concept that has been developed for the new landmark in Münster because Kampmann technology plays a role in it, but not a central one …

Creating values

Like all insurance companies, the LVM is required to build up reserves from its customers’ contributions. The law demands that 7% of these reserves be invested in real estate. Real estate as a form of investment has grown considerably in significance in recent years, which is not only entirely due to the financial crisis and so completion of the Crystal will create a lasting value. The building impresses both with its extraordinary aesthetic and in the way that it focuses on its users and combines the several different aspects of technical building services. The realisation of the Crystal drew on the great experience that had been gained in the past. Experience gained from the LVM’s real estate department having actively participated in and accompanied comprehensive construction activities over the last 10 years. The LVM 7 building, for example – which the people of Münster lovingly call ‘Villa Kunterbunt‘ (‘Villa Villekulla’) – already employs systems that rely on regenerative energies. The planners drew on important findings gained from the successful operation of this structure when developing the Crystal.

Construction vehicles on the LVM building’s construction site

The power of the elements

The Crystal’s energy concept relies on regenerative resources and their recovery. The four elements actually do play an important role here. A geothermal field that possesses 51 geothermal probes – which represents the element of earth – reaches 150 metres deep into the ground and supplies water from here that comes out at a consistently hot – or even cold – temperature of 12°C. This water is used during the summer for a free cooling system that delivers an output of 294 kW. And, during the winter, it supports the heating systems with reversible heat pumps.

The in-house combined heat and power plant – which represents the element of fire – is fuelled by bio-methane and generates 112 kW of heat and 75 kW of electricity that’s fed into the public grid. A photovoltaic system on the roof and in sections of the façade utilises the power of the sun – which equally represents the element of fire – to deliver another 100 kW of electricity that’s also fed into the grid. A compression refrigeration machine provides 169 kW of cooling capacity. Even the waste air from the offices – which represents the element of air – isn’t simply dumped outside. It is piped into a heat-recovery system. Rain – the element of water – is used at the Crystal to flush the toilets.

Room occupants are also able to open the windows in the Crystal’s offices if they so wish because the double façade prevents gusts of wind from blowing directly into the room. Floors and ceilings have been integrated into the energy system via the activation of the concrete core.

Design of the LVM building

Kampmann connects to the outside world

Decentralised façade units supply the office areas with fresh air when the windows are closed; this air is preheated depending on the outside temperatures before it’s delivered into the room. And this is where Kampmann comes in. Kampmann worked with the planners to develop a version of the Kavent BA and specially adapt it to the conditions that exist at the Crystal in Münster because this trench air-conditioning system with outdoor-air function was to play an important role. The self-sufficient systems help make the use of the interior space more flexible. The systems have been integrated into a KNX bus system so that it’s possible to easily reorganise them to meet the requirements that change with the different room constellations. That also eliminated the need to install supply lines for a centrally operated fresh-air supply system – which in turn made it possible to reduce ceiling heights. And these lower ceiling heights allowed the planners to create four additional floors of usable space in spite of the fact that the structure’s height was limited by building restrictions. For Jürgen Seidel and Klaus Hülsken, who supervised the project for the LVM, this created significant added value. In our technical discussion with Arend Brink, who heads Kampmann’s electrical and building automation unit, they explained how the Crystal has been automated, on the one hand, while, on the other, it provides all users with the greatest possible freedom. Read the interview in our interview section.

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Architect Prof. Duk-Kyu Ryang from Korea developed the extraordinary design for the LVM 5 on behalf of HPP (Hentrich-Petschnigg & Partner), a firm of architects that’s based in Düsseldorf. HPP had already been responsible for designing the ‘LVM Hochhaus’, which is connected to the Crystal via a glass bridge at a height of 40 metres. HPP with its 320 employees and 11 office locations operates all over world and was, among others, responsible for the Dreischeibenhaus in Düsseldorf and the Auf Schalke Arena.

Energy concept

The extraordinary energy concept for the Crystal was realised by Deerns Deutschland. This is a company that developed as recently as May 2013 from the merger of P2B Planungsgruppe Berlin Brandenburg, Scheer Beratende Ingenieure and Schmidt-Reuter Integrale Planung und Beratung. The latter had started work on the project under the supervision of Dr Thiel. Deerns operates with a workforce of 150 employees based at three locations.

Electrical engineering

The Nordhorn engineering firm was responsible for developing the technical electrical, data and media systems – and therefore also the advanced KNX bus system – at the Crystal. The company was founded by Klaus Nordhorn in Leipzig in 1995 and has been based in Münster since 1998. Nordhorn plans and supervises the technical building equipment for complex projects at home and abroad. The company, for example, won the competition for the new Borussia Dortmund Service Centre (in conjunction with the Cologne-based msm firm of architects).

Pictures: LVM Insurance