Balancing act between creativity and technological feasibility

Complex geometries and exacting requirements constantly present MEVA’s Special Design department with exciting tasks – during the renovation of a church in the Upper Bavarian village of Hebertshausen, for example.

Data & Facts

  • Project
    • Entrance building of St. George's Church, Hebertshausen/Dachau 
  • Principal
    • Parish association Röhrmoos-Hebertshausen; funding institution: Archiepiscopal Ordinariate Munich
  • Architects
    • Heim Kuntscher, Munich
  • Contractor 
    • Zechbau GmbH, Munich office
  • MEVA systems
    • AluStar wall formwork
    • Special design
  • Engineering and support
    • MEVA Schalungs-Systeme, Haiterbach and Munich office 

High level of planning effort

“The work is always exciting,” says Alexander Schmid while looking at his screen, where a 3D model for a demanding special design is being created. For the restoration of St. George's Church in the picturesque village of Hebertshausen near Dachau a new entrance building is to be erected – directly up against the wall of the church and in an exposed location on a steep slope. 

The name says it all: In a manner of speaking, the Special Design department in Haiterbach is the technical task force for special tasks. MEVA area manager Andreas Scherzl calls the team led by Jochen Moosmann the “Special Commission Haiterbach“ due to its special projects. And rightly so. After all, the visions of architects and developers that would have just been ideas on the drawing board a few years ago become reality here. Alexander Schmid: “Without modern 3D planning technology it would have been inconceivable to plan projects as complex as the entrance to the church in Hebertshausen just a few years ago, let alone achieve this quality.” And as a side note, totally practical considerations also played an important role: How is the solid model best broken down into cleats and facing substructure? At the end of the day, it must also be possible to build the formwork construction made of different materials such as wood, steel, aluminium or plastic on the basis of the 3D model. 

A highly complex ensemble
The entrance building of St. George's Church, whose origins date back to the 12th century, is part of a comprehensive restoration and redesign of the site of the church near Dachau. In itself the elevated location with a breathtaking view of the Alps presents all those involved with a huge challenge. Architect Markus O. Kuntscher: “This pocket of land is an archaeological monument, and at the same time the dictate that the dead should be allowed to rest in peace applies in a graveyard. Hence, all  stabilisation measures in the ground have to be carried out in such a way that the ground is disturbed to the smallest extent possible. We achieve this using micropiles for the foundations. Erecting a geometrically complex building on individual micropiles the size of pinheads on an extreme slope such as that found in Hebertshausen really is extremely challenging,” explained the architect and continued: “A very high level of surveying and planning precision is the prerequisite for success.” As was the case when designing the special formwork, here it was also necessary to ensure that the entire supporting structure was able to withstand horizontal and vertical loads. A real challenge on such steep and narrow terrain. The engineers responsible for the steel structures also used modern computer technology. With the aid of a 3D topographical survey, the planned architecture and a calculation model, it was possible to calculate the cross sections required for the steel structures and the connections. Andreas Scherzl confirmed: “One doesn’t come across such a complicated concrete construction every day of the week. Especially in Hebertshausen, close consultation with the planners and the construction company Zechbau was the key to successful implementation.”

High level of planning effort
“The work doesn’t end with the structural draft of the special design,” said Alexander Schmid with regard to the detailed planning work. “Absolutely crucial for such a complex form is the stability of the construction,” explained Sascha Singer, structural engineer at MEVA in Haiterbach and added: “Standard calculations were of no use at all during this project. Here, we had to take a great many factors into account.” The specialist from Haiterbach divided the construction into eight subsections and calculated these individually to determine the maximum horizontal and vertical loads. “First of all, I had to develop a suitable methodology. Admittedly, that is unusual, but all the more exciting for that,” said Singer. It wasn’t just a matter of calculating the special design itself, but also the stability in the overall concept, which was closely coordinated with the specialists for steel structures who were responsible for the supporting structure. 

Limitless creativity?
“Especially when realising such complex construction projects, perfectly coordinated teamwork is of vital importance for the smooth implementation. Every department involved must be absolutely reliable, and with its expertise and experience, function  perfectly,” said Jochen Moosmann, stressing the importance of networked working between the architects, the construction company, the specialist engineers and MEVA. As is the case in all projects, the first step for the restoration of the church buildings was the creative work. The question as to what extent the planners allow themselves to be influenced up front by technical limitations when performing their work was answered unequivocally by architect Markus O. Kuntscher: “In theory, creativity knows no bounds – if we were to think primarily about the problems of technological feasibility, there would only be a fraction of the construction innovation achieved.”

Every project as a challenge
“That is precisely what makes our work so exciting,” explained Alexander Schmid, who perfects detailed solutions on his computer in order to plan constructions that appear to be impossible at first glance so that in the end they can, after all, be implemented. Creativity and experience also play a decisive role in this phase of the project. After all, very mundane questions also cropped up during the planning: How can the special design be delivered by road so that no expensive special transport with overwidth is required? “The planning doesn’t stop at the edge of one’s desk,” said Schmid with a laugh and added: “Our task is to consider all options up front so that everything runs smoothly on the construction site.” 

It’s the result that counts
The church in Hebertshausen is also a special project for Anna Kretzmann, the construction manager at the construction company responsible for the building shell, Zechbau: “The most difficult tasks during this project included the exact determination of the heights of the construction aids used as supporting surfaces for the special formwork. We were thus very satisfied with the planning of the special construction done by MEVA!” Despite being confident about the future possibilities, the construction expert pointed out: “I consider it essential to check the feasibility in parallel with the planning. At times, limits are reached in the construction industry which cannot be detected without detailed planning.” Hence, the “Special Commission Haiterbach” works on appropriate solutions in order to continue meeting customer requirements in future. All in all, the specialists agree: The more complex and the more demanding the construction project is, the more important early and coordinated teamwork becomes – to ensure that the balancing act between creativity and technological feasibility succeeds.