The new building of the Regional Innovation Centre for Energy Technology designed by Birk Heilmeyer und Frenzel Architekten has been completed on the new north campus of Offenburg University of Applied Sciences.
The structural development of the University of Applied Sciences Offenburg has been dynamic in recent years. On the existing campus, amongst aother buildings the library and cafeteria have been expanded and some new faculty buildings constructed. The district town of Offenburg provided a municipal plot of land north of the existing university campus for further expansion. This provides the opportunity to establish a new entrance to the campus area, and thus to strengthen the university's identity in the public space, whilst enhancing the connection to the city centre.
The clear-cut building volume of the Regional Innovation Centre for Energy Technology (RIZ) at the street corner Badstraße / Südring marks the entrance to the new campus. Towards Badstraße, the building appears as a largely closed structure, whilst in the west, a large open façade faces the future North Campus. A generous, angled recess on the west façade guides pedestrians approaching from the old campus through the underpass to the main entrance.
The building comprises a multi-storey research wing with offices and a directly adjacent test lab (technical centre). The office workplaces are located in a clearly structured room cluster that faces west, overlooking the campus and the nearby Kinzig. Located between the technical centre and the research workplaces is an area of circulation and ancillary rooms that repeatedly provides views into the hall. Lines-of-sight connecting the campus outside with the hall inside emphasize the dialogue and the solidarity of an interdisciplinary team of researchers.
As a special feature, so-called research zones were created in the office wing, which are connected via voids and stretch across the three upper floors. This results in a vertically floating space that allows for flexible occupation and offers various lines-of-sight.
On the roof of the technical centre is an outdoor lab that can be accessed directly from the building.
Pillars and truss girders made of local beech form the supporting structure of the technical centre; the span is around 18m. Laminated beech veneer wood is a high strength building material. Applied in space trusses and subjected to normal force, it is highly efficient and represents a sustainable solution that fully meets the requirements of this forward-looking research institution.
The office wing comprises a reinforced concrete frame construction, the solid cores brace both parts of the building.
For the façade, wood appeared to be the consistent continuation of the material canon and thus a judicious solution. The outer walls are of passive house quality, they are designed as a timber frame construction, clad with grey varnished scantling of silver fir.
Integral planning of the building design and the energy concept focused on energy efficiency, high quality workplaces and an innovative laboratory concept. In the offices, occupants benefit from the option to regulate room temperature, ventilation, glare and sun protection individually. This guarantees high visual, acoustic, and thermal comfort with good indoor air quality.
The building's heating and cooling requirements are supplied by groundwater from a suction-injection well. Ground water is used as a heat source for an electric heat pump in winter and for cooling during summertime. To use the environmental energy efficiently for heating and cooling the concept includes a concrete core activation. In the office wing the ceilings are activated, whilst in the technical centre the floor slab is activated.
The building meets the passive house standard, featuring a highly insulated building envelope and mechanical ventilation. The ventilation system operates with low electrical energy consumption for the fans and a high degree of heat supply from the heat recovery system.
In the moderately heated technical centre, swelling air diffusers installed on both longitudinal sides of the hall supply air close to the floor without causing draughts. An exhaust air opening under the hall roof leads the exhaust air back to the ventilation system. Additionally, natural ventilation is provided via rainproof and burglar-proof air inlets on the ground floor and air outlets through the roof, to allow high internal heat loads to be dissipated temporarily.
A photovoltaic system on the roof of the office wing uses as much renewable energy that the primary energy requirements according to German EnEV are undercut by around 70 %.