Fraunhofer Institute by JSWD 09.08.11


German architect JSWD has completed the "Transferzentrum Adaptronik" for Darmstadt's Fraunhofer Institute. It's a high-tech laboratory building with a striking golden facade.

The "adaptronics" in its name refers to a new term for the super advanced engineering of mechanical systems that react to changes in environment, also known as "smart materials". These include "memory metals", which can be moulded but then will return to their original shape if exposed to high temperatures. This might sound like science fiction, but smart materials are already finding their way inside household appliances and vehicles. The Fraunhofer Institute conducts research that feeds directly into commercial applications.

The building is divided into zones: one comprises research and technical facilities and is linked by a circulation and communications area to a semi-public showroom and seminar area. "This concept gives the opportunity to show the results from the lab in a more representative environment", says JSDW architect Robert Bönsch. Clients, mostly from the transport industry, are given the opportunity to witness the materials first hand outside of the private research labs.

As well as having the high-tech insides, the building itself is cutting edge. "We translated the theme of adaption to the facade," says Bönsch. A brand new material called "bond brass" was used, which was perforated to add depth and filigree to the building.

The new material reacts to light in a novel fashion: "The surface is able to reflect light in a different manner, from bright golden to a dark bronze," says Bönsch. "This is in a way the principle of action and reaction."



Felix Krumbholz



Douglas Murphy

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The surface is able to reflect light in a different manner, from bright golden to a dark bronze

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