Researchers at the new Helmholtz-Institute at the University of Ulm are investigating new ways of electrochemically storing energy. The building blends with the urban development concept of the science park's existing master plan, its basic form reflecting the sloping nature of Helmholtzstrasse. At the same time, it is incorporated into the oak forest which links the campus areas on both sides of the road.
The building's shell of brightly polished, perforated metal panels reflects all the different shades of the oak forest. With the distinctive pattern of the metal perforations, it creates a varied and characteristic facade which changes in keeping with the light and time of year, constantly giving the institute a slightly different appearance. The panels in front of opaque areas, as well as in front of laboratories and ancillary rooms are fixed while those outside office windows can be raised individually.
The building's entrance forms a spacious incision in the facade ' a gesture of openness towards staff and visitors. Bright rooms are invitingly flooded with light entering through the large glass surfaces of the entrance and inner courtyard. The three-storey building unites physical, chemical and special laboratories as well as offices under a single roof. Its concept is based on a modular design whose open structure can respond flexibly and with little effort to the requirements of future research groups. Special demands had to be met by the vibration-free foundations needed for operation of the scanning electron microscope when planning the new building.
Communication areas and the sculptural staircase promote the exchange of scientific opinion. The areas created here encourage cheerfulness and transparency, despite their objectivity in keeping with the institute's more serious nature. Brightly polished metal panels bearing such texts as "Freudeleuchtend" (joyful radiance) convey the idea of people inspired and motivated by their research.