experimenta Opens: Experiencing Science and Technology at First Hand

Knowledge, as they say, comes from experience, and experimenta Heilbronn – the largest science center in Germany – fulfills this by offering a space of around 25,000 square meters where everything can be explored, from everyday issues to cutting-edge research.

On March 28, 2019, Schwarz Real Estate GmbH & Co. KG celebrated the inauguration of this innovative science center by inviting guests from the worlds of politics, science and business. Günther Jauch moderated the event, in which also Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann and Günther Oettinger participated with greetings. The doors opened to the public on March 31, 2019. Drees & Sommer oversaw the center’s four-year construction and had overall responsibility for project management, planning and construction management, as well as ensuring the project’s feasibility. How does it feel to be in the eye of the storm? What would your body look like if it turned into ice or rubber? What is it like to paraglide over mountains? Experiencing science with all the senses is what experimenta Heilbronn is all about. One of the special features of experimenta is the Science Dome, which is a combination of a planetarium, a 3D cinema and a performance space for experimental theatre. It offers a 180-degree rotatable auditorium for shows, with a curved screen as well as an observatory.

What is innovative is not only the unusual design of the building, in which the storeys are rotated individually to form a spiral shape, but also the fact that Building Information Modelling (BIM) was used for the planning and construction phases of the project. Drees & Sommer took advantage of the many benefits of this digital planning method, as well as fully integrated 3D planning, to manage the new build for experimenta from the start of the project. The complex new build was captured in digital form in the BIM model and broken down into planning modules. The experts optimized the façade construction in such a way that, of the more than 200 different façade elements existing at the start, approximately 50 were left at the end. Despite the complex architecture, with digital modularization the specialist engineers succeeded in developing a large number of façade elements that are repeated. This enabled them to reduce the logistical complexity and speed up the construction process while work was in progress. Energy simulations and cost-benefit analyses with the aid of the data model also revealed the most efficient energy concept: a combination of groundwater, heat pump technology and natural gravity cooling systems.