Covestro — „Winding” houses instead of building

Innovative fiber technology could revolutionize building construction

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Covestro
The Texoversum at Reutlingen University is a reference object for a new technology that could revolutionize the construction industry: The components of its façade were wound from fibers and fixed with Covestro's Desmocomp system. Photo - FibR GmbH

With the Texoversum, Reutlingen University has put into operation a training and innovation center for the textile industry that is unique in Europe. The almost 2,000 square meter textile-like façade of the new building also causes a sensation architecturally: It charmingly combines the innovative power of this industry with the 160-year tradition of Reutlingen as a textile location. The highlight: The components were wound from fibers that are fixed with a special plastic resin.

The façade of the Texoversum is just one example of a brand-new technology that could completely revolutionize the construction industry. The sophisticated structure was designed on the computer and is based on carbon fibers wound by robots. Similar to networks in nature, for example in spider webs, beetle wings or palm leaves, the fiber structures are also very lightweight, but at the same time highly resilient, and require very little material. This not only saves resources, but also facilitates transport and assembly of the components.

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The sophisticated construction was designed on the computer and is based on carbon fibers wound by robots. Photo – FibR GmbH

The co-inventor of the innovative technology is architect Prof. Moritz Dörstelmann, whose company FibR also realized the façade of the Texoversum: “In contrast to conventional steel and concrete structures, we are able to get by with a minimum of material, because the robots only process as many fibers as are needed for the strength of the respective structure. As a result, we also save large amounts of CO₂ emissions.” Dörstelmann also sees advantageous applications for the technology in roof structures, supports and, not least, interior fittings.

The necessary strength and durability of the composite is provided by Covestro’s aliphatic polyurethane resin system Desmocomp, in which the fibers are embedded as if in a matrix. “The resin is highly resistant to weathering and the sun’s high-energy UV radiation, making it very suitable for outdoor applications,” explains Pejman Norastehfar, architect and specialist for construction applications in Covestro’s Coatings and Adhesives segment. “Other plus points in the construction sector are its excellent chemical and flame resistance.”

In the Texoversum, the spun façade performs several important functions at once: it gives the building a unique look and stabilizes the surrounding balconies. It also serves as a railing and provides the necessary shade for the glass front behind it.

The building provides approximately 3,000 square meters of space for workshops, laboratories, a textile collection, think tank space, and classrooms. The costs for the construction of the Texoversum amounting to 18.5 million euros were borne by the employers’ association Südwesttextil, whose members include FibR GmbH in Kernen, east of Stuttgart.

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