Architectural Design drafts for new CatLab Center awarded

1st Place: h4a Gessert + Randecker Architekten

1st Place: h4a Gessert + Randecker Architekten © h4a Gessert + Randecker Architekten GmbH

2nd Place: Volker Staab

2nd Place: Volker Staab © Volker Staab GmbH

3rd Place: augustinundfrank/winkler ARCHITEKTEN

3rd Place: augustinundfrank/winkler ARCHITEKTEN © augustinundfrank/winkler ARCHITEKTEN

4. Place: HENN GmbH, München

4. Place: HENN GmbH, München © HENN GmbH, München

The new building will be constructed on the marked area.

The new building will be constructed on the marked area. © HZB/Dirk Laubner

An innovative laboratory and office building for catalysis research will be built in Berlin-Adlershof: CatLab is to become an international beacon for catalysis research and drive forward the development of novel catalyst materials, which are urgently required for the production of green hydrogen for the energy transition. In an architectural competition four winning designs have now been selected. All designs include climate friendly solutions.

Novel catalytic materials play a central role in the energy system transformation. They are needed to replace fossil fuels with hydrogen and synthetic fuels produced with renewable energy. This is why the HZB, the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion and the Fritz Haber Institute of the MPG are launching the long-term project CatLab in Berlin. The physical proximity to the synchrotron source BESSY II (HZB) and the laboratories of the partners with their state of the art analysis and characterisation tools promises great synergy effects. 

Designs for an innovative and sustainable building

The building is to be located at Magnusstrasse 10 in Berlin-Adlershof. In an architectural competition, designs were sought for an innovative office and laboratory building that would meet sustainability criteria and be largely CO2-neutral. The laboratory and office spaces will be seamlessly integrated into an Innovation Center and a data science platform.

Results from the architectural competition

Under the chairmanship of architect Doris Gruber, the jury made a decision on 25 and 26 November 2020. A total of 19 designs were received, which provided valuable input for the discussion.

The first prize went to the Stuttgart architectural office h4a Gessert + Randecker Architekten GmbH, in cooperation with the engineering offices Krebs Ingenieure GmbH from Ditzingen and Raible + Partner GmbH & Co. KG from Eningen. The jury emphasised that the arrangement in three (four) blocks is very positive in terms of urban development, space and function. Spaces in between create an attractive campus square. The design was also convincing from the point of view of sustainability: the building is covered with photovoltaics both on the roof surface and in the façade. The heat supply is provided by near-surface geothermal energy via a heat pump, the cooling supply by adiabatic exhaust air cooling. The wooden element construction is welcomed from an ecological point of view, but it still has to be checked whether this is also suitable for the laboratory areas.

In addition to the winner of the competition, the jury awarded prizes to three other proposals.

The 2nd prize was awarded to Staab Architekten GmbH, Berlin with Arup Deutschland GmbH, Berlin.

The 3rd prize went to augustinundfrank/winkler Architekten PartG mbH, Berlin with Kando Ingenieure GmbH, Berlin.

The 4th prize went to HENN GmbH, Berlin with Klett-Ingenieur-GmbH, Fellbach.

Finally, Prof. Dr. Bernd Rech, scientific managing director of the HZB, thanked all participants on behalf of the HZB, especially the virtual participants, and Doris Gruber for the perfect moderation of the meeting and the team of [phase eins] for the sovereign execution of the procedure. "I am particularly pleased that renewable energies and sustainability have been creatively implemented in all the designs", said Rech. "With this result, we have a basis to realise CatLab and to contribute to solutions for climate protection and energy supply with our research on catalyst materials".


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