Project SheetFrom shirt manufacturing to freezing technology

Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Sulzbach

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The brief asked for the transformation of a disused industrial complex, built towards the end of the 1960’s for a shirt manufacturer, into a modern, highly equipped research and laboratory building for industrial research commissions. The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering, IBMT, is a developer of technologies and manufacturer of technological devices. The R & D commissions, by private and public clients from the manufacturing industries alike, are mainly in the fields of lab technology, theranostics and medicinal technology. They range from developing protoypes and field testing to construction and manufacturing, all carried out by the IBMT.

A generous main entrance opens up at the interface / joint between the existing and new buildings. The lobby provides separate accesses to the respective areas in the entire institute. It can be used for presentations and exhibitions, visitors can be received, communication is promoted. A clear circulation concept organizes the old hall volume in flexible, modular structures. To the south, behind a membrane made of Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), lies a separate corridor providing access to the buildings.

Three roofed courts for lighting the building are inserted in the depth of the building, in order to be able to use the adjacent spaces as offices and labs, too, and to make them more flexible. The offices and laboratories span two storeys each so that the basement in the sloping ground won’t turn into dead space cut off from future developments, or into an oversized storage space. Spiral staircases inserted into the light courts connect the laboratories and offices.

  • The reorganized and enlarged building for the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering, IBMT, is designed to fulfil the technical and functional requirements but also to give a long-term perspective to the existing buildings, and become the Institute’s signature for biotechnology, biobanks and cryogenics.

  • In formal terms the membrane, a three-layer screen of Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene foil, takes up the characteristics of the cryo vessels. It is meant to mediate between the rounded geometry of these and the clear-edged industry architecture.

  • The idea transcending the individual research projects is the cryobank, the collection of living genetic samples for the understanding of nature. The cryo collection is about archiving single cells.

  • A place which creates identity and stays in mind.

» For us, it is important that the building sparks mental connections, so the “cell membrane“ constitutes a building material symbolizing the Institute's work. «
Markus Hammes

Façade generating identity in an industrial estate with a heterogeneous fabric:

  • Design and material of the Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene foil (ETFE) screens are intended to make the façade interact
  • the architectural form, the material chosen and the technology employed become the symbol of the innovative vigour of biomedical research and the singular collection of living cells in this location

Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Sulzbach

  • Joseph-von-Fraunhofer-Weg 1
  • 66280 Sulzbach/Saar
  • Deutschland

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