Media Release

Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research in Bremen Plans New Building with Seawater Testing Facility and Mangrove Greenhouse

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The new ZMT building will be a sustainable timber-based construction and offer optimal working conditions.

Bremen, Germany, August 28, 2023.Coastal regions are among the most species-rich areas on earth. They not only provide a habitat for animals and plants, but are also of special importance for us humans: Around 60 percent of the world’s population lives in coastal areas, and more than a billion people around the world are dependent on fish as a protein source. A special role is performed by tropical coastal ecosystems such as mangrove forests or coral reefs, which provide a livelihood for more than three billion people. These tropical coastal ecosystems and their importance for people and nature have been the subject of research by the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research in Bremen (ZMT) since 1991. To create a state-of-the-art research environment for its growing staff, the ZMT is planning a new building in the Horn-Lehe district of Bremen. In addition to state-of-the-art office and laboratory spaces, the new building will have space for a seawater testing facility with aquariums for fish and corals, and a mangrove greenhouse. Drees & Sommer SE, a company that specializes in construction and real estate consulting, manages the project for the ZMT.

Half of the funding for the roughly 6,500 square-meter new build on Otto-Hahn-Allee is being provided by the German federal government and half by the German federal state of Bremen. A total of EUR 34.8 million is being provided.

The building was designed by the Vienna architecture firm SWAP, which specializes in construction that supports climate justice. “The new building has to be in line with ZMT’s interdisciplinary and collaborative approach in its scientific work, as well with as our standards of sustainability. We are therefore working on a functional and variable spatial design that stimulates communication between the individual disciplines and their staff and the many visitors to ZMT,“ comments Dr. Nicolas Dittert, Administrative Director of the ZMT.

Interdisciplinary Work under One Roof

In the future, all the staff at the ZMT will work under one roof. What is special is that the work environment will be flexibly designed to allow it to be used by natural science and social science researchers and facility management staff alike. The laboratory spaces are intended to meet the requirements for both cross-disciplinary work and individual research. The focus will be on team work. “The design and infrastructure of the new building has to reflect the distinctive character of an interdisciplinary research center. The spaces have to be designed in a way that encourages communication and collaboration between the users of the building,“ says Maureen Edelmann, who heads the project at Drees & Sommer. As a hybrid construction made of wood, glass and concrete, the building will feature an open, light-filled atrium, large wooden steps as seats and timber staircases leading to the various floors. The design also meets ZMT’s high standards with regard to sustainable materials.

Drees & Sommer Provides Consulting on Sustainable Implementation

“Wood is becoming increasingly popular as a sustainable building material. A locally available, renewable raw material, it has excellent thermal, structural and weather-resistant properties.“ At the same time, wood is easy to use for prefabrication, which means it works well for modular construction off-site. Because wood is lightweight in construction and requires little energy to process, hybrid timber-based construction is exceptionally sustainable. The carbon emissions from wood construction are up to 40 percent lower than those from conventional concrete construction.

Keeping the carbon footprint as low as possible is also one of the long-term considerations. “To allow for possible future alterations, we try to use construction methods that enable the building components to be separated later, so that the materials and substances can be reused in line with circular economy principles. We also plan to develop an integrated energy and sustainability strategy,“ explains Dr. Nicolas Dittert. The detailed design will be prepared in the next months.

There is a long way to go before the building is completed and the first staff members can move in. In the coming months internal workshops are due to be held with the staff of ZMT to ensure the building design meets their needs as well as possible. The workshops results will be integrated into the plans.