The Otto Bock Science Centre of Medical Technology by Gnadinger Architekten 15.07.10

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Concave and convex bands along the facade evoke human muscle fibres (image: © Otto Bock Healthcare GmbH)

Amid the glassy modernism and old stone buildings that populate the Berlin cityscape, the new Science Center for Medical Technology by Gnadinger Architekten joins the ranks of recent projects that merge architecture and science. These include Zaha Hadid's Phaeno Science Centre in Wolfsburg (icon 027 and icon 029) and the CosmoCaixa Science Museum in Madrid by Esteve and Robert Terredas. The building doubles as the Berlin headquarters of Otto Bock Healthcare. An exhibition space, several conference rooms and a larger space for interdisciplinary discourse relating to the orthopedic profession are housed within a dramatic aluminium and glass facade.

The company's focus is on the design of technical mobility aids and prostheses. Central to the science centre program is an exhibition explaining human motion. Drawing on this, the overall design concept for the building was drawn from human muscles fibres. The facade is comprised of a series of convex and concave banded strips that peel away from one another to create apertures to the interior. Prosthetics aim to simulate natural motion, so the harmony between nature and technology is also intrinsic to the brief for this project. The pearl-white coated, high-gloss aluminium, which forms the banded geometry of the facade, serves to underline this theme of expressing what is natural through the use of technology.

Themes of dynamism and motion run through the building, manifesting themselves even in an external light installation along the north and west facades. The 12-metre high "Walker" reduces the human form into a series of dots, which represent the 15 major joints in our bodies. The installation shows how the different joints work together while the variation of the points illustrates the gender, physique and mood of the walker. The Science Centre of Medical Technology, enclosed within metaphorical muscle fibres, can be understood as a prosthesis or extension of the Otto Bock philosophy towards designed mobility – the governing question of "what moves us?" infiltrates every aspect of this building.

The Otto Bock Science Centre of Medical Technology is open to the public Thursday-Sunday from 10am-6pm

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The building at night showcases "Walker" - a 12m high light installation (image: © Otto Bock Healthcare GmbH)

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The exhibition within the Science Centre asks the question "what moves us?" (image: © Otto Bock Healthcare GmbH)

 

Words

Manijeh Verghese

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Central to the science centre program is an exhibition explaining human motion

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