Designing a new home for an international climate impact research institute requires an innovative approach to energy efficiency and aesthetics. BHBVT Architects in Berlin took up the challenge to impress some of the world’s foremost climate scientists with a super energy-efficient and environmentally harmonious new research space. After three years of construction, the Potsdam Institute moved into its new woodland home with natural light-filled offices heated only by waste energy derived from supercomputers used to model the impacts of climate change.
Thanks to the vertically orientated wooden facade, people walking in the beautiful woodland setting of Telegraph Hill in Potsdam might not even notice a new 6000-square meter building has arisen amongst the tall trees. The curvaceous trefoil-shaped structure blends harmoniously into the leafy environment. A low impact design philosophy extends to the building mechanics: new methods and materials have been used for the insulation of the outer walls, and their efficiency will be assessed in a research project by the Technical University Dresden over the next three years.
Knowing that climate change research needs to move forward fast, the European Regional Development Fund financed a 4.4 million Euro supercomputer to carry out 212 trillion calculations per second from the building’s basement. With its waste heat, the whole new research building including offices for 191 researchers and support staff can be heated without using any additional sources. The high-performance computer allows the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (or PIK) to run six to nine times more simulations compared to the previously installed system.
“It was science that has put climate change on the political agenda. And it will be science that can assess and recommend the necessary mid- and long-term measures. So it is important that climate science, which is so significant for our environment and our life, has the best working conditions – including the building technology,” said parliamentary state secretary Stefan Müller at the opening of the new building.
For the latest news on Climate research take a look at the Potsdam Institute’s website.
Photographs Liz Eve for Inhabitat