Doors between the Antarctic and Rain Forest
Imagine a journey around the world in just a matter of hours, along the eighth degree of longitude, passing through all the climate zones – this amazing experience becomes reality at the new Klimahaus Bremerhaven 8° Ost. What do the various climates on Earth actually feel like – from 38 degrees Celsius and 85 per cent humidity to a dry six degrees below zero? These extreme conditions also place great demands on the structural elements which have to guarantee optimum performance in each zone – in particular the doors, which are often subjected to different moisture and temperature conditions from each side. One example is the fire-proof doors (Teckentrup, Verl): They lead from the sandy desert and the Arctic desert into “climate neutral” escape staircases.
The idea behind the large project is a simulated journey around the world measured at eight degrees 34 minutes east. This is the longitude of Bremerhaven and all the other locations on the journey: Switzerland, Sardinia, the Sahel, the African rain forest, the Antarctic, Samoa, Alaska and the north Frisian island of Langeness. Each destination has its own exhibition complex. This is where the specific climate can be experienced and flora and fauna observed. Short films and visual aids explain the (weather) phenomena of the respective region. Further exhibition areas explain how the elements fire, water, earth and air determine our climate, the perspectives for future climate development and the opportunities to protect the climate (and the environment). In a special weather studio, visitors can learn how weather forecasts are created and produced for television. Areas of the building which are not open to the general public take up as much space as the actual exhibition. To ensure that the various climates can exist under just one roof, an elaborate HVAC system had to be installed, and there are a total of six escape staircases around the complex to guarantee safe evacuation of the building in case of fire.
Doors unite the world
Not many of the visitors will pay attention to the doors. Nevertheless, they play an extremely important role. “The doors must provide a fully functional escape route whatever the climate inside the room,” explains Horst Herborgt, technical adviser at Teckentrup. But in spite of the extremely varied conditions only doors from the manufacturer’s standard range were used. “Costly additional solutions were not necessary even under such difficult conditions,” says Herborg.
It is quite often the technical details which make the difference – for example, for smoke-proof fire doors between fire compartments in highly frequented areas: To ensure that floor seals do not rub on the floor when opening and closing doors, they are only lowered once the doors are closed. “This helps to reduce the wear and tear created by frequently used doors,” explains construction manager Dipl.-Ing. Horst Nixdorf from the engineering firm agn. This solution combines ideal fire and smoke protection with excellent durability even where there is a high intensity of use.
Safety was also important along the wheelchair friendly trail – in spite of the complex, realistic settings, the exhibition is still totally accessible for disabled people. Sensors monitor the swing range of the electrically driven doors. They stop the door leaf as soon as an obstacle is detected. Electro-mechanical hold-open devices operate in areas where the doorways between fire compartments must remain open. Smoke detectors ensure that the doors close safely in case of fire.
Single and double-leaf versions, various designs, doors with an electric drive and sensor technology, others with special access technology (chip card) and doors with an anti-panic function – almost every door had to be individually planned at Klimahaus Bremerhaven 8° Ost, as hardly any of the elements are the same. “An escape door is completely different to an access hatch for a cable shaft,” comments door expert Herborg. A further distinctive feature is the final coat which was applied on site. The majority of the doors were painted in a low-key grey or black to ensure that the doors remain in the background. But the so-called “outer space door” – the door leading to outer space on the journey – is a design highlight: This door is elaborately painted and an important part of the overall design of the room.
Easy installation – Heavy transportation
Installation of the structural elements was trouble-free – and fine adjustment of the automatic doors required manual dexterity. But since all the cranes had been dismantled and the lifts were only partially useable at the time of installation, transportation became a real test of skill.