"Network of Knowledge" - Fraunhofer Institute of Laser Technology (ILT) + Production Technology (IPT) – Aachen, Germany

in collaboration with Annette Sauermann

The architectural concept has prescribed a white opaque glass facade for the ILT, and black for the IPT. When the competition went out to tender the sizes for the glass panes had already been determined.

The Idea
Two large network drawings have been integrated into the two glass facades (facing towards the new RWTH-campus and along the axis of the site development), that serve as a landmark which is visible from far away. The drawings are animated by light and thus provide a vivid and continuously changing picture – akin to a pulsating organism. These scenes of light receive their impulses directly from the Institutes themselves and the light-system is linked to the Institutes’ Intranet – allowing internal activities to be visible in an abstract format.

The glass has been treated to make the drawings visible, even in bright daylight, and there are a multitude of very interesting pictures – continuously changing, depending on the weather and the ambient light. In the sunshine, projections of the network are produced in the surrounding areas by the additional reflective lines in the white glass of the ILT.

The drawings bear one signature, but they vary for each individual house; each in accordance with the specific Institute. The artistic concept focuses the two themes of “Light” and “Network” – which are of equal importance to both Institutes. Their diverse levels of significance coupled with their high degree of abstraction will never put them in danger of becoming outmoded.

The concepts of both Institutes depict that, as a principal work structure, the network has great significance within the team. The depiction of the network on the facade is therefore – similar to a neural network – an abstraction of the inner structure.

Light is not only the original subject of Fraunhofer, but is also a core subject for ILT and IPT – very obvious in the case of the Institute of Laser Technologies, but also in the IPT, where lasers are used to manufacture optical components like lenses, for instance. The shape of the network lines in the ILT is derived from the straight course of the laser beam, and in the IPT from the rotating movements of grinding and polishing processes.

Artist: Annette Sauermann
Client: Fraunhofer Society

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