Fast, Flexible, Temporary – The Professionals from NÜSSLI On Site in Sendling
Every architect knows that no matter how good a plan, at the end of the day the success of a building project depends on the general contractor. For the renovation of Gasteig Sendling, the Swiss NÜSSLI Group has taken on this task. A specialist for complex building projects under extreme time pressure, the company won the tender as general contractor for the interim Philharmonic Hall as well as having been commissioned to complete the modular buildings on the site. Having started out as a carpenter’s workshop in the Swiss municipality of Hüttwilen, NÜSSLI now operates throughout the world and has made a name for itself above all in temporary buildings. We talk to Roland Gebhardt, Special Projects Director of the NÜSSLI Group.
Mr Gebhardt, NÜSSLI works at 17 locations worldwide. Your latest contract is for the construction of several expo pavilions in Dubai. How does the Gasteig in Sendling differ from your other projects?
The scope is quite different. Gasteig Sendling is a complex building project with many sub-projects. Added to this is the restricted available space, which requires particularly smart logistics. The building duration is also longer: we are normally on a construction site for three to nine months; here, we have been working since January 2020. That’s why we also rented apartments for our project team of 20 people.
I expect the biggest chunk is the construction of the interim Philharmonic Hall with more than 1900 seats. What are the challenges in building this concert hall?
The requirements for the Philharmonic Hall are that it can be easily dismantled again if necessary and that it meet the highest standards of comfort and acoustics. In other words, it should be both temporary and high quality. To achieve this, careful prioritisation was essential. For example, we built the shell using more steel, less concrete and a lot of wood; and for the acoustic panelling, we used flat sections rather than convex curved surfaces. For the facade, we opted for metal panels that are easy to install and clean rather than using render. The priority was and remains the acoustics: To achieve the required sound quality, a whole series of coordinated measures were necessary.
What worked well on the site to date and what less so?
We are pleased with the project’s organisation. We have decided to split our crew into two largely independent groups, based on their specific experience: One will look after the Philharmonic Hall and the other the modular buildings. The cooperation with the architects from gmp International and Gasteig München GmbH as well as with Nagata Acoustics, the acoustics specialist for the Philharmonic Hall, has also been excellent so far. Building in Germany can be a challenge due to the bureaucratic and sometimes cumbersome planning coordination processes. Our speciality is rapid construction. This requires quick decisions, which makes the occasional »culture clash« unavoidable.
How has the pandemic affected the work on site?
We are happily well within schedule despite the coronavirus, but of course we are still concerned. To comply with the hygiene regulations, we had to expand our site accommodation, which was a major challenge given the available space. We’re missing the face-to-face conversations, as planning and meetings are held mostly online. The workers must distance and wear masks, which affects their speed and motivation. On top of that, our team has few opportunities for enjoying their free time or explore the city. We also have sites in the middle of nowhere, but to be »locked up« in Munich is a real shame.
NÜSSLI is a specialist for temporary constructions. Why is there so much demand for this service right now?
There are many cultural buildings like the Gasteig right now that need renovation and require a temporary solution. Flexibility and sustainability, which both count among the strengths of NÜSSLI, are also in demand in the event business, for example for grandstands or stages at sporting events and open air concerts. Our motto is »Connecting You«. In our project work we bring together service providers, but we also connect the organisers with the audience, countries and cultures, expectations and emotions. We unite expertise, experience and networks. We call this our »pivotal function« – a bonus that has brought us projects for Formula 1, the Olympic Games, well-known car brands, festival stages and even the Gasteig, to name just a few.
When Gasteig Sendling is completed and up and running, what would you personally like to see on offer there?
I’m a big fan of »classic meets rock«. And of traditional jazz!
Text/Interview: Isabella Mair
You can follow the construction progress at any time through our webcam on the New Gasteig website.