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Institute for Vehicle Technology German Aerospace Center DLR

Part 1 Project 2002
Till Boettger
Roelof Du Preez
Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen Aachen Germany
The subject is the automobile in Germany, its importance for the economy, for politics and for society. How can a research institute communicate the magic of the automobile and point the way to an "energetic" future? Sloterdijk compares the car to a "happiness machine".

"The automobile is a rolling uterus that distinguishes itself from its biological archetype in that it can be steered and can be entered by adults[…]. A car is a protective layer and at the same time an offensive weapon, it is both a means of escape from the world and an instrument for world conquest. It enables the driver to square the circle, to be inside and outside at the same time." (Sloterdijk, FAZ-Magazin, No 634, 24.4.1993, pp. 28-38)

The aim is to present the magic of the automobile and organize an institute that addresses energy problems and offers different researchers (engineers, mechanics and computer scientists) an effective venue for working together. First, the building is divided among five teams, each having three areas: offices, labs and garages. The test bus is at the focal point, the researchers work to develop its fuel cell technology.

Furthermore, the institute should function as a self-sufficient energy system. The hydrogen fuel needed for the fuel cell motor is produced using solar energy in the south and stored in tanks in the north. Energy becomes a formal principle, and the indoor storage of hydrogen provides a convincing argument for series productions of cars. Finally, the height of the institute gives it a long-range effect and restructures the site as fitted into the grid of the surrounding area.

Till Boettger
Roelof Du Preez

A group of 15 students participated in a student competition for the Institute for Vehicle Technology of the German Aerospace Center DLR. The brief was based on the actual layout of the institute to be erected in 2003. The author's project finished to be one of the three winning schemes.

For his design of the Institute for Vehicle Technology the author chose a vertical organisation of the research facilities. This unconventional approach, which stemmed from limited space on the site, proofed to be of extraordinary qualities. Though the project’s lavish construction might require some technological effort, its poignant architectural significance, the appealing spatial qualities of its interior, as well as its functional organisation make more than up for it.

The vertical circulation for people and vehicles becomes a single display window; atop the hydrogen fuel tanks communicate the fuel cell as the institutes object of the research. Complimentary to the vertical elements, the building consists of individual floors of various heights, which allow a high level of flexibility.

This proposal, though it might seem unfeasible at first glance, appears to be very convincing and was very well received by the German Aerospace Center’s members on the jury. A detailed model and impressive computer animations accompanied its aesthetical and persuasive presentation.

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