Better Problem-solving Skills

Xella supports many national and international social, educational and cultural projects. For over two decades we have organized architecture and civil engineering competitions for students at home and abroad, with the objective of bridging the gap between theory and practice. We are a founding member of the “Stiftung 2°” Foundation through which we are directly involved in the climate protection debate and offer our problem-solving skills. Last but not least, we are also committed to a variety of non-profit initiatives, e.g. for underprivileged children and teenagers that are victims of violence or natural disasters.

The Xella student competitions in Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have become firmly established events among students of architecture and civil engineering. With these competitions we offer up-and-coming academics an opportunity to prepare for the challenges they will face later in their careers and to demonstrate their abilities under realistic conditions by undertaking demanding and practicallyoriented tasks.

Visionary and creative concepts

Pictures: Competition judges
Competition judges: Manfred Streng – Xella, Andreas Hilt – Munich, Prof. Donnatella Vioretti – Berlin, Prof. Felix Claus – Amsterdam, Hans Dieter Hegner – Berlin (from left to right)

The Xella student competitions, sponsored for the first time over 20 years ago by Xella’s current brand Hebel, cover a wide-ranging qualitative gamut. On the one hand, future architects and civil engineers are motivated and supported, while on the other contacts between the younger generation, universities and the construction industry – in particular with Xella – are intensified. With this approach we are making a significant contribution to the comprehensive education of young people. The competitions also serve as a springboard into a successful career. This is repeatedly confirmed to us by former prize-winners that now hold management positions at international architecture firms or run their own architectural practices.

The competitions reveal innovative approaches and problem-solving skills that are directly related to contemporary architectural challenges. They can help students develop their individual capabilities, gain practical experience and set themselves apart from the majority through creativity and commitment. Unusual ideas are welcome here, but economic, design and functional aspects should of course not be forgotten.

The theme of the German competition is developed on behalf of Xella by a different university each year. It then applies across Germany. A board of specialists appointed by Xella safeguards continuity and the substantive quality of the competition procedures and ensures that current issues are taken into consideration when the tasks are set. It furthermore strengthens networking and communication between the different architecture faculties throughout Germany. In addition to promoting the young generation, another primary aim of the competition is to create a bridge – using current building tasks – between professional practice and education in order to promote a stronger brand perception among (future) architects.

In the heart of the city

The participants in the 2011/12 competition examined the transformation of monofunctional metropolitan areas under the title “In the Heart of the City”. More specifically, it involved redeveloping the area between Stachus Square in Munich and the city’s main railway station under the aegis of the Technical University of Munich. The result proved convincing: Over 100 submissions from some 170 students, 13 awards and a Facebook page with over 600 fans from the target group. In addition to the three prize-winners, four other designs were highly commended and six purchases made.

The 2012/2013 event was no less successful. It bore the titel “On the Edge of the Center – Leibniz Salon Hanover”. The competition was held in cooperation with the Faculty of Architecture and Landscape of the Leibniz University, Hanover. It addressed the transformation from medieval town to baroque city that is barely discernible today. Overall, 122 entries from students at 41 German universities were submitted; prizes were awarded to two winning teams. The 28th competition is currently underway with the theme of “The City’s Memory. Documenta Archive Kassel”.

Student competitions in the Czech Republic and Slovakia have been organized by the local Xella subsidiaries there for more than ten years. Over the past eight years the competitions have been jointly organized under an annually rotating leadership. For entrants to the 17th International Ytong Student Competition 2011/2012 in Bratislava, the challenge was to draft a new usage concept for a vacant barracks in Nitra, Slovakia.

Pictures: Xella Student Competition 2011/2012
Xella Student Competition 2011/2012 – “In the Heart of the City” – Stachus Square, Munich. 1st place Franziskus Martin, Technical University of Munich

The brief was to transform the area into a multifunctional space. This challenging task encompassed the urban replanning of the site and demanded creative ideas for dealing with the buildings – some of which have listed status. The competition jury awarded prizes to six entries. The following year’s competition involved drafting a design for a forestry school in Zichovec, some 50 km from Prague. The special challenge here was not only that the building should fulfil the passive house standard, but that students should – in the truest sense of the word – also be able to learn in an open air environment.

To-date, many prominent Czech and Slovak architects have participated as students in the competition, which not only rates highly among school children and students, but also within the professional community. Furthermore, two other competitions are underway for high school students and students of building trades at vocational schools. You can find further information on Xella’s student competitions at www.studentenwettbewerb.xella.com.

Pictures: Xella Student Competition 2011/2012
Xella Student Competition 2011/2012 – “In the Heart of the City” – Stachus Square, Munich. 2nd place Manuel Nagel, Tobias Herr, Luis Guitierrez, Bauhaus University, Weimar

Ambitious climate protection solutions

The “Stiftung 2°” Foundation is synonymous with a long-term corporate commitment to climate protection. In partnership with science, society and politics the foundation’s supporters – to which Xella belongs as a founding member – are working on specific climate protection solutions that are both ambitious and effective. The “Stiftung 2°” Foundation is an initiative of chief executives, managers and family businesses. Its objective is to support politicians in their efforts to establish market economy-based framework conditions for climate protection and capitalize on the problem-solving skills of German entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneurs’ foundation for climate protection, the “Stiftung 2°” Foundation is structured as a crosssectoral organization. This allows the comprehensive knowledge pool and climate protection commitment of the participating companies to be bundled and incorporated into public debate and collaborative projects.

For Xella, as a manufacturer of energy-saving building materials, it is beyond question that every industrial sector and company must make its own contribution to climate protection – within the bounds of its own capabilities. For Xella, the necessary climate protection measures and sustainable orientation of our corporate strategy offer an overall opportunity. For further information please visit www.stiftung2grad.de.

Demand for energy efficiency

In order to advance the issue of energy efficiency in Germany, Xella has been committed to the Deutsche Unternehmensinitiative Energieeffizienz (German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency, or DENEFF) since 2011. The objective of this first independent, cross-sector network of companies is to project the joint interests of its members in the area of energy efficiency into political opinion-making and accelerate the development of products and services in the energy efficiency sector. Xella is involved in the “Fundamental issues & communication” and “Energy efficiency in buildings” working groups. Companies from the building material industry, the heating and sanitary installation industry, consulting engineers, energy advisors and scientists have banded together in this latter working group. Since the working group was established it has been primarily involved with the issues of quality assurance and qualification in the area of building renovation. For further information please visit www.deneff.org.

A plan for better living conditions

Each year Xella Deutschland’s works councils collect money from the workforce for the children's aid projects run by Plan International. This independent aid organization is one of the oldest children's charities and is involved in over 50 African, Asian and Latin American countries. Each donation is then doubled by Xella Deutschland’s management. We are also sponsoring two projects in Guatemala and Senegal. The donations are used to improve the living conditions in the project region. In addition to these sponsorships, Xella Holding also supports the Plan project “Protection for girls and women” in El Salvador. In this Central American country violence in the family is an everyday occurrence for women and children. Plan is helping 30 communities by opening up new perspectives for them. For further information please visit www.plan-deutschland.de.

Through its commitment to the District School of Music in Goslar, Fels provides the basis for musical education at elementary schools. As many as 80 children benefit each year from the support provided by the Fels-Werke. This also gives children from socially more vulnerable families an opportunity to learn a musical instrument. The Goslar District School of Music is one of the largest establishments belonging to the Association of German Music Schools, with 2,400 students in 15 locations and over 80 teaching sites.

Help for flood victims

Xella employees were on hand to offer active support and provide rapid assistance to their colleagues that fell victim to flooding in the eastern parts of Germany and Bavaria in June 2013. Over and above generous monetary donations, a whole range of highly practical assistance was organized which included pallets to help load sandbags onto trucks. Xella also released from their duties employees that volunteer as fire fighters or give their time to work for the “Technisches Hilfswerk/THW” (Federal Agency for Technical Relief). Alongside the management of Xella Deutschland, Fermacell and Fels, Xella employees in Germany and from further European locations were also involved. Xella Bulgaria donated 1,500 m3 of building blocks for the reconstruction of buildings in a Bulgarian village that were also damaged by flooding in 2012.

Xella furthermore supports charitable initiatives in the Duisburg region. We contribute among others to the cost of lighting the “Regattabahn”, a popular jogging and walking area in Duisburg, during the evenings. We also donate money to sports associations and religious institutions. Here for example, we support the St. Josef’s Children’s Home which looks after children, teenagers and young adults from troubled families. The homeless charity “Duisburger Tafel”, the “Telefonseelsorge Duisburg” (Duisburg crisis line) and the “Kinder und Jugendtisch” (children’s food bank) which provides regular meals together with educational, cultural and care services, have also depended on our help over many years.

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