Werner Sobek

written by:
April 14, 2009
Originally published in Beyond Green

Werner Sobek has seen the future, and it’s high-tech, green, and efficient. The architect, engineer, and teacher’s wandering intellect and belief in the power of design have left their marks across disciplines and continents.

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  Sobek is particularly enthusiastic about textiles (the altar he built for the Pope’s visit to Bavaria in 2006 makes use of a fabric “tent”), which he finds both tactilely pleasing and rife with potential for high-tech applications like solar energy harvesting.  Courtesy of Zooey Braun PHOTOGRAPHY.
    Sobek is particularly enthusiastic about textiles (the altar he built for the Pope’s visit to Bavaria in 2006 makes use of a fabric “tent”), which he finds both tactilely pleasing and rife with potential for high-tech applications like solar energy harvesting. Courtesy of Zooey Braun PHOTOGRAPHY.
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  SWM Heilbronn is a one-story office building—mostly constructed using reinforced concrete—wrapped in a stainless steel fabric.  Courtesy of Johannes Marburg.
    SWM Heilbronn is a one-story office building—mostly constructed using reinforced concrete—wrapped in a stainless steel fabric. Courtesy of Johannes Marburg.
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  Completed in 2000, the R128 exemplifies Sobek's  Courtesy of Roland Halbe.
    Completed in 2000, the R128 exemplifies Sobek's Courtesy of Roland Halbe.
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  Ten-percent of Sobek's projects are related to industrial design, such as the Airport Chair.  Courtesy of Wolfgang Schmidberger.
    Ten-percent of Sobek's projects are related to industrial design, such as the Airport Chair. Courtesy of Wolfgang Schmidberger.
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  Sobek's extensive use of glass cladding for his projects effectively blends interior and exterior space, while providing plenty of natural light.  Courtesy of Zooey Braun PHOTOGRAPHY.
    Sobek's extensive use of glass cladding for his projects effectively blends interior and exterior space, while providing plenty of natural light. Courtesy of Zooey Braun PHOTOGRAPHY.
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  Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok, Thailand. From the main building the gates are reached via concourses, consisting of a system of flattened tubes.  Courtesy of Rainer Viertlboeck.
    Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok, Thailand. From the main building the gates are reached via concourses, consisting of a system of flattened tubes. Courtesy of Rainer Viertlboeck.
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  As it was designed to be a temporary structure, Sobek chose to construct the Hamburg Cruise Center from steel shipping containers.  Courtesy of Juergen Schaefer.
    As it was designed to be a temporary structure, Sobek chose to construct the Hamburg Cruise Center from steel shipping containers. Courtesy of Juergen Schaefer.
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  Until 2010, the Hamburg Cruise Center will be used for registration and baggage check-in of cruise passengers. The roof structure is encased in translucent panels that are illuminated from within.  Courtesy of Cristoph Gebler.
    Until 2010, the Hamburg Cruise Center will be used for registration and baggage check-in of cruise passengers. The roof structure is encased in translucent panels that are illuminated from within. Courtesy of Cristoph Gebler.
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  Burda Media Park, completed in 2000, was, like most of Sobek's projects, a collaboration. Sobek didn't design the building, but, rather, assisted in the structural engineering of the load-bearing structure.  Courtesy of H.G. Esch.
    Burda Media Park, completed in 2000, was, like most of Sobek's projects, a collaboration. Sobek didn't design the building, but, rather, assisted in the structural engineering of the load-bearing structure. Courtesy of H.G. Esch.
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  A filigreed membrane structure, designed by Sobek, protected against threatening rain during Pope Benedict XVI’s first official visit to Germany.  Courtesy of Zooey Braun PHOTOGRAPHY.
    A filigreed membrane structure, designed by Sobek, protected against threatening rain during Pope Benedict XVI’s first official visit to Germany. Courtesy of Zooey Braun PHOTOGRAPHY.
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  Sobek engineered the curved roof shell and beamless slabs of Burda Media Park in Offenburg, Germany.  Courtesy of H.G. Esch.
    Sobek engineered the curved roof shell and beamless slabs of Burda Media Park in Offenburg, Germany. Courtesy of H.G. Esch.
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  The interior of the Hamburg Cruise Center. As it is temporary, Sobek designed the roof with recycling in mind—the trusses are constructed using wooden beams.  Courtesy of Cristoph Gebler.
    The interior of the Hamburg Cruise Center. As it is temporary, Sobek designed the roof with recycling in mind—the trusses are constructed using wooden beams. Courtesy of Cristoph Gebler.
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  H16 is a fully recyclable, zero-emissions house near Stuttgart that consumes no energy and blends in with the landscape.  Courtesy of Zooey Braun PHOTOGRAPHY.
    H16 is a fully recyclable, zero-emissions house near Stuttgart that consumes no energy and blends in with the landscape. Courtesy of Zooey Braun PHOTOGRAPHY.
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  For the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, designed by Murphy/Jahn Architects, Sobek created a patented membrane that allows natural light in but keeps heat and noise out.  Courtesy of Rainer Viertlboeck.
    For the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, designed by Murphy/Jahn Architects, Sobek created a patented membrane that allows natural light in but keeps heat and noise out. Courtesy of Rainer Viertlboeck.
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  R128, Sobek’s family home (featured in Dwell’s May 2003 issue), is a groundbreaking example of green design with zero energy consumption, emissions, and waste.  Courtesy of Roland Halbe.
    R128, Sobek’s family home (featured in Dwell’s May 2003 issue), is a groundbreaking example of green design with zero energy consumption, emissions, and waste. Courtesy of Roland Halbe.
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  Werner Sobek in his office.  Courtesy of Baerbel Schmidt.
    Werner Sobek in his office. Courtesy of Baerbel Schmidt.
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  The objects on Sobek's desk illustrate his varied interests and highlight his belief that design and engineering should be interconnected.  Courtesy of Baerbel Schmidt.
    The objects on Sobek's desk illustrate his varied interests and highlight his belief that design and engineering should be interconnected. Courtesy of Baerbel Schmidt.
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  Sobek and those in his office believe in providing the link between high-level engineering and architecture. A better understanding of engineering, Sobek argues, will open up entirely new possibilities for architects’ thinking.  Courtesy of Baerbel Schmidt.
    Sobek and those in his office believe in providing the link between high-level engineering and architecture. A better understanding of engineering, Sobek argues, will open up entirely new possibilities for architects’ thinking. Courtesy of Baerbel Schmidt.
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  An early iteration of Sobek's Airport Chair sits in the office.  Courtesy of Baerbel Schmidt.
    An early iteration of Sobek's Airport Chair sits in the office. Courtesy of Baerbel Schmidt.
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  A concave surface inside one concourse of Suvarnabhumi International Airport is juxstaposed with a continuous vertical surface.  Courtesy of Rainer Viertlboeck.
    A concave surface inside one concourse of Suvarnabhumi International Airport is juxstaposed with a continuous vertical surface. Courtesy of Rainer Viertlboeck.
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  The membrane Sobek designed for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Germany in 2006.  Courtesy of Zooey Braun PHOTOGRAPHY.
    The membrane Sobek designed for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Germany in 2006. Courtesy of Zooey Braun PHOTOGRAPHY.
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  Design is as important as any other element in Sobek’s work. Structures like the H16 house can’t just work well and function environmentally; they have to look good, too.  Courtesy of Zooey Braun PHOTOGRAPHY.
    Design is as important as any other element in Sobek’s work. Structures like the H16 house can’t just work well and function environmentally; they have to look good, too. Courtesy of Zooey Braun PHOTOGRAPHY.
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