Futurium: the house of the futureIn the past decade, Berlin has gone from being a home for artists to becomingthe hotspot for start-ups in Central Europe.
The sudden arrival of start-ups hashad its negative impact in Berlin, rising rents and living costs but alsoattracting lots of entrepreneurs and pioneers. Start-ups are driving technologyand shaping the future, introducing innovation and change in society – but howmuch power do ordinary people have?
Minutes away from the Hauptbahnhof lies Futurium – the newest hub forinnovation in Berlin. Futurium was built to empower the citizens of Berlin, andthe rest of the world, to be agents in shaping the future of our society.
When we think about the future, no issue is more important today than theconstruction of sustainable cities. Reducing the environmental impact of ourbuildings and urban areas is essential to undertake the great challenge ofclimate change and build a greener future.
Architects Christof Richter and Jan Musikowski designed the Futuriumbuilding to be an ambassador of sustainability, an example to drive innovationand technology from the core of the city of Berlin. Richter and Musikowskidescribe Futurium as “the smart container for the future, a window into the future oftechnology and society”.
Breaking the aesthetics of its urban surroundings with sharp edges, and tiled windows, the house of the future resembles a space shuttle about to depart. More than 8000 panels containing folded metal reflectors and textured glass line the building. During the day, the facade reflects the sky, while during the night it unveils what happens inside.
The rooftop of Futurium is covered in solar panels, providing renewableelectricity, and solar thermal panels, heating Futurium’s water supply. Theelectricity is stored in batteries providing a constant energy supply for Futuriumand its surrounding buildings.
The Futurium thermal energy storage system is the first one of its kind toemploy phase change materials at this scale. A phase change material (PCM)is a substance which stores and releases thermal energy when changingphases from solid to liquid. Futurium employs a hybrid storage system heatedby solar panels which combines paraffin disks (a highly efficient PCM) inside water tanks. This allows a continuous thermal energy supply for hot water andheating, increasing the building’s energy efficiency by eight times.
Besides achieving high thermal and electric standards, the roof structure alsocollects rainwater for cooling and watering, and invites the visitors to enjoystunning sights of the surrounding Bundestag and Spree river from the Skywalk.
The aim of Futurium is not only to serve as an example of sustainablearchitecture but also to create an inspirational place to work that encouragescollaboration and stimulates creativity.
The programme of Futurium, packed with workshops, exhibitions andconferences, will focus on three aspects: nature, technology and humaninteraction. Similarly, the Futurium building is divided in three areas: anexhibitions centre, a conference centre and an underground ‘cave’.
While the rest of the building shines for its open spaces and lightness, thecave sits on the opposite side of the spectrum. Dark-coloured exposedconcrete, black asphalt floors and a ceiling grid made of 126 fluorescentscreens conjure up a dramatic atmosphere worthy of Christopher Nolan’s bestsets. In fact, the Futurium cave was designed to serve as a “batcave” for theFuturium, where all the gadgets of tomorrow are created.
The Futurium cave is home to the Futurium Lab, a hands-on technologicalplayground for people of all ages to explore the future. David Weigend, Head of Education and Participation at Futurium told us that the purpose of theFuturium Lab is “to provide the tools for the citizens to work practically andcreatively towards the future, become entrepreneurs and realize their dreams”. As hepointed out, this kind of platform is currently missing in Germany, and servesas a bridge between audiences and policy makers or scientists.
The Futurium Lab will be composed of a fully-equipped fab lab including 3Dprinters and laser cutters, as well as a multifunctional area with workshopsand activities ranging from bio design, artificial intelligence and architecture.
The Futurium Lab will also host a temporary display based on open sourcetechnology which behaves as a living and changing organism, shaped by theaudience.The aim of the Futurium Lab is not only to promote transdisciplinary andtransgenerational collaboration, but also to show that future makers come
from all kinds of backgrounds.
The Futurium Lab was created to show that inorder to build the future, we need a broad variety of individuals, from artistsand designers to engineers and programmers.Futurium is an innovative and playful space where we can explore newadvances in technology and learn new skills, but more importantly, Futurium ishere to remind us that it’s not just up to experts to design the future but that it is aneverchanging reality to be created by all of us.
Futurium will open during Spring 2019.