LAVA (Laboratory for Visionary Architecture) has teamed up with urban agricultural collective Cityplot to design LIFE Hamburg, a new energy self-sufficient educational campus that will “reinvent learning” for 1,600 students. Created in the shape of an infinity loop, the nature-inspired learning landscape encapsulates the educational paradigms of Learnlife (purpose-inspired and personal learning) as well as the spatial typology concepts of American futurist David Thornburg. Slated to open 2023, the solar-powered sustainable building will feature a carbon dioxide-absorbing green facade and an organic rooftop garden.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos
infinity-sign-shaped building with green roofs and solar panels

Proposed for Hamburg, Germany, LAVA’s design of the LIFE Hamburg was crowned the winner of a 2019 invited competition earlier this year. The project will span an area of 12,000 square meters and will use natural materials and greenery to knit together the built environment and the surroundings into one continuous landscape. The organic architecture is inspired by five elements in nature — waves, spirals, cells, branches and nests — which can be seen throughout the building from the wave-shaped balconies and spiral terrace layouts to the branching structural systems and honeycomb ceilings.

Related: Sustainable Central Park with energy-producing trees unveiled for Ho Chi Minh City

rendering of people walking in wood-lined interior filled with plants
wood interior with trees and round skylights

LIFE Hamburg will cater to 800 children and 800 adults with a variety of spaces designed to stimulate creative learning for all ages. “We combined the differentiated learning spaces of Thornburg with our nature-inspired design approach,” the architects explained. “Instead of homogeneous rooms, there are spaces with different levels of brightness, openness, plantings and connections to the exterior. Based on Thornburg’s concepts, they include expressive spaces (mountain top) for groups; open communicative environments (watering hole) for conversations with peers; hands-on spaces (sandpit) for workshops and manual experiments; group spaces (campfire) meeting areas and lectures; introverted spaces (cave) for individual quiet reflection.”

rendering of mesh screen covered in plants
rendering of outdoor patio near building with mesh screens covered in plants

For energy efficiency, the architects have designed the three-story building with a load-bearing wood structure and a highly insulated glazed shell that will bring natural light inside. The accessible roof will be partly covered with enough solar panels to meet all of the building’s energy needs as well as outdoor learning spaces and edible gardens.


Images via LAVA