Current examples

What makes an office building smart?

In view of the current energy shortage, the importance of smart office concepts is growing. Current examples show what the future of the office could look like. How can office buildings be designed for the future? The Fraunhofer Institute is addressing this question with the joint project Office 21. Together with partners from industry, the initiative is continuously investigating how office and knowledge work will change in the future. The results are used to derive concrete options for action in order to successfully design working environments in companies for the future.  

Jul 19 2022

The smartest building in Europe?

The initiative's partners include companies such as the project developer CA Immo, which recently attracted attention with its "cube" office building. The striking office building in Berlin is an exemplary reflection of future-oriented working environments. 

The daily newspaper B.Z. called the building "Europe's smartest building" when it opened. The architecture of the building was designed by 3XN Architects from Copenhagen, who themselves speak of the smartest multi-tenant office in Europe. But what makes the award-winning building at Berlin's main station so unique?

cube Berlin, Europacity © CA Immo/Andreas Muhs

Everything can be optimised 

The planners from 3XN speak of the first office built specifically for the workplace trends of the 21st century. To support new forms of work, there are not only possibilities for cross-organisational communication, activity-oriented workplaces and dynamic office layouts. 

With various technical features, everything can also be optimised – from access and control of the room climate to maintenance and energy supply. Even the behaviour of users can be sustainably improved, according to the architects. 

Interaction with users 

The cube-shaped building with the strikingly folded façade has a self-learning "brain" for this purpose. This is how the architects describe the integration of intelligent digital user interfaces. 

The building is designed to interact with users' needs and requirements and to respond to their behavioural patterns. 

Access control, lift operation, air-conditioning and lighting control, booking systems are all interconnected to enable more effective use. In the long run, this should significantly help to save energy.

Grasblau, Berlin, Atrium and lobby © CA Immo

App for efficient operation 

Users and visitors can interact with the building via an app – and this goes beyond opening doors and requesting lifts. The app is designed to help connect people, encourage sustainable behaviour and make their working day more efficient. 

For example, users should be able to identify the optimal workspace based on their individual preferences, colleagues' location and energy efficiency at a given time. 

Smart further development 

Now that the "cube" has been in use for two years, the experience gained so far with the space and building concept is flowing into current projects. With the new "Grasblau" building, CA Immo is continuing the development of such smart commercial buildings. 

The six-storey office building is currently being built in the Berlin district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg according to plans by the architectural firm HPP. 

As a fully digitalised office building, "Grasblau" is also intended to ensure efficient, healthy, safe and sustainable building operation. This also works via a building app that provides users with many services.

Grasblau, Berlin, roof terrace © CA Immo

More efficiency for climate protection 

Here, too, the use of digital sensor technology and networked systems is intended to ensure greater efficiency. For example, tenants receive an individual energy dashboard with which they can optimise their own energy consumption in conjunction with an analysis of room utilisation. 

"Only if we consistently use the possibilities of digital building blocks in the operation of properties can we implement the necessary energy savings to achieve the climate protection goals," says the head of CA Immo Berlin, Sonja Bischoff.  

Pioneering energy concept 

Completion of the "Grasblau" is scheduled for the 4th quarter of 2022. The holistic green building concept includes the exclusive use of low-pollutant materials. In the sense of a resource cycle, the use of composite materials will be avoided. 

With the connection to the existing district heating network and the purchase of exclusively regeneratively generated electricity, the use of state-of-the-art heating and cooling technology, the recovery of energy through heat exchangers and the optimised operation by means of digitalisation, energy consumption can be significantly reduced. 

Especially in view of the current world situation and supply situation, the future seems to belong to such smart office buildings.

Author: Broekmann+Partner

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