Press release

Moving into ZELUBA®: Fraunhofer WKI intensifies research into sustainable building materials at new location

Braunschweig /

The Fraunhofer WKI is expanding its research capacities: The “Center for Light and Environmentally-Friendly Structures ZELUBA®” has been built on the campus of the Technische Universität Braunschweig – in the immediate vicinity of the university's building institutes. At the beginning of June 2021, the researchers move into the new premises where they will develop sustainable lightweight construction solutions for the building industry – in a future-oriented building. The background to this has been formed by global challenges such as climate change, population growth and large transnational migration flows, which place new demands on the functionality and ecological footprint of buildings.

Exterior view of the ZELUBA® building.
© Fraunhofer WKI | Manuela Lingnau
The new ZELUBA® was built in accordance with the principles of lightweight and environmentally-friendly construction.

The scientific focus of the ZELUBA® will be directed at research into hybrid building components, combining concrete with renewable raw materials such as wood, flax and natural-fiber textiles. In addition, a particular area of expertise is simulation and analytical models for questions relating to structural physics, as well as earthquake modeling with the aid of a shaking table. Furthermore, the ZELUBA® has an electrodynamic shaker for the investigation of oscillatory excitations of smaller orders of magnitude.

Moreover, the Fraunhofer WKI has a computed tomography (CT) device, a double-gripper weaving machine, and a scanning electron microscope (SEM) at its disposal.

The Director of the Fraunhofer WKI, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bohumil Kasal, states: “The ZELUBA® offers a scientific domicile for researchers from the Fraunhofer WKI, the TU Braunschweig and partners and reinforces the scientific excellence of the region. This will create a beacon of research in the field of sustainable lightweight solutions that will radiate far beyond the Braunschweig location.” 

The new building combines hybrid and sustainable construction systems. In particular, wood has been utilized as a constructive, sustainable building material. The building itself therefore reflects the principles of lightweight and environmentally-friendly construction. For this environmentally-friendly building method, renewable raw materials are deployed, which offer advantages in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, weight and transport energy.

The new premises consist of two cubic building structures and were planned in a joint venture between the architectural offices DGI Bauwerk from Berlin and schneider+schumacher from Frankfurt am Main. The tall, single-story testing hall and the three-story laboratory and office building are slightly offset from one another, thereby creating a spacious forecourt. The two structures are connected by the foyer, whose glazed fronts provide a smooth transition from inside to outside. Towards the street, the largely open hall front offers a glimpse into the research work.

For several years, the Fraunhofer WKI has been working together with the TU Braunschweig and industry on hybrid lightweight construction systems on the basis of renewable raw materials for multi-story building construction. In the new ZELUBA® building, this successful work will be continued on 1,700 square meters of floor space, comprising 39 workplaces and laboratories, a seminar room and a testing hall. The Fraunhofer WKI scientific specialist department “Center for Light and Environmentally-Friendly Structures ZELUBA®” was previously situated at the main location of the Fraunhofer WKI.

The construction costs are being shared by the State of Lower Saxony and the Federal Government via the basic funding of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

 

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