The Berlin Open Lab

In the building of the University of the Arts (UdK) on Einsteinufer, a special moment was celebrated in late spring 2019: on this sunny day, the Berlin Open Lab (BOL) was opened. This transdisciplinary lab aims to facilitate research at the intersection of art, technology and society and is a collaborative project between the Technische Universität Berlin (TU) and the UdK Berlin on the Campus Charlottenburg. The Hybrid Plattform supported the development process and also held the coordination of the BOL until winter 2020.

The opening of the Berlin Open Lab had been long awaited, as there were delays in its completion due to renovation. The joy was all the greater when the then President of the UdK Prof. Rennert, together with the President of the TU Berlin Prof. Dr. Thomsen, the State Secretary Mr. Krach and the Speaker of the Board Prof. Dr. Joost, announced the opening of the BOL.

The three areas of the Berlin Open Lab - Coworking Space, Prototyping Space and Mixed Reality Space - are housed on nearly 1000m2 in the so-called Shedhalls of the Einsteinufer. The shedhalls were planned in 1959-1963 by the Berlin architect Robert Tepez as the Technical School for Optics and Photographic Technology.

The prototyping area, a workshop for subtractive and additive prototyping, offers numerous opportunities to design initial models using wood, textiles, electronics and other materials. In the coworking space, research groups can hone their results and work in close proximity to the workshop, discuss or exchange ideas and network with the other groups. The third area of the Berlin Open Lab, the Mixed Reality Lab, offers the possibility to work on virtual spaces with virtual reality and mixed reality glasses or motion tracking. An ambisonic system can also be used to create sonically immersive experiences; work is underway on further experiential simulations.

During the opening, the researchers were able to show the guests what they would be working on in the coming months and years using initial prototypes. On display were folded and knitted current-conducting textiles, the first draft of a digital primer, smart displays, acoustic simulations, virtual district models and more.

A lot has happened in the 18 months since the opening, and now 15 projects with over 50 employees are working in the BOL. In addition to the regular research work, numerous workshops, e.g. on the use of robots in construction processes, MeetUps of the Maker Community, impulse lectures and roundtables on networked mobility or artificial intelligence took place. In addition, designers, artists, scientists, and community stakeholders also networked with each other, resulting in the emergence of new research topics and groups.

During the first Corona Lockdown, the Berlin Open Lab also became central to the UdK's contribution to the fight against the pandemic. Protective shields for doctors and house staff were 3D printed, with the support of several staff members, on all 3D printers available at the UdK.

As Hybrid Platform, we recently spoke with two scientists in the Berlin Open Lab about their research: In a 20-minute conversation, Prof. Sven Pfeiffer and Prof. Vera Meyer talk about their joint research on fungi in architecture.

The corona pandemic continues to limit work at the Berlin Open Lab, but projects are still being worked on. We will continue to present individual projects in the future to give an insight into the research.

- Ewelina