AAU INNOVATE Science and Innovation Hub

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A cradle for
innovation

Year: First prize in competition in 2017, completed 2022

Client: Danish Building and Property Agency and A.P. Møller og Hustru Chastine Mc-Kinney Møllers Fond til Almene Formål

Program: University building at Aalborg University (AAU)

Size: 8,500 m²

AAU INNOVATE Science and Innovation Hub is an extension to Aalborg University. It is an open and inviting building that provides spaces for both lively research and focused concentration. In order to promote idea generation and innovation, the users will be able to inhabit a new type of un-programmed workshop spaces – named Garages – referring to the architectural frame for some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. In these garages, the users define their own rules and methods of co-working creating space for new ideas to flourish. The garages alongside the atrium street are the innovative basis for informal learning, acting as a supplement to the formal education and research offered at AAU.

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Creating a frame for
innovative culture

The garage is a well-known architectural frame for many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built their first Apple computer in a garage, as was the case for Bang & Olufsen, Hewlett Packard, Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

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To foster the same kind of entrepreneurship, and to invite users to ‘think outside the box’, AAU INNOVATE Science and Innovation Hub will consist of several un-programmed rooms – known as Garages. The Garages are focused on intense idea-generation and spaces where the users can invent their own rules for collaboration.

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Innovation isn’t a linear process that follows a singular, systematic approach. Rather it’s a frequent shift, back and forth between stages, scales and mediums. To ensure the best functionality, the building must support the regular shifts between phases by creating seemless connections.

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Innovation is not a linear process but a shift between many phases.

In a vertically organized building, you miss many potential meetings from the moment you arrive, to when you reach your desk. Therefore, we propose a horizontal, terraced volume, where collaboration and meetings among users occur naturally as part of the building’s daily flow.

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From traditional vertical workspaces to an interconnected horizontal layout.

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AAU INNOVATE Science and Innovation Hub is organised with the largest and most public functions on the ground floor. As you move through the building, new synergies are revealed, allowing users to change surroundings and focus.

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The main functions are organized so they are connected both vertically and horizontally. The many possible links between functions support the need to switch between spaces in the creative process.

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The vertical split can be roughly divided into three main groups: Meet, pitch and test.

To create a frame that fosters collaboration and innovation, the building not only provides spaces for discussion and research, but also areas for quiet and focused individual work. Functions become more separated and private as you move vertically through the building.

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AAU Innovate - Science & Innovation Hub is organised with the largest and most public functions on the ground floor, where there will be a constant daily life.

The fixed, external solar shading on the facade is done with solid laminated spruce lamellae. The façade is lined with wooden panels on the inside, as are some of the interior walls. In addition to being a sustainable building material, the wood provides a welcoming and warm atmosphere.

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Connecting people
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How can the architecture become an integrated part of AAU, while portraying a message of innovation?

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By shifting the volume forward to meet the neighbouring Engineering Faculty, and backwards to improve accessibility around the lake, AAU INNOVATE Science and Innovation Hub creates two new urban spaces on the campus.

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The ground floor becomes an extension of the university city. Individual functions are arranged inside the building to create multiple ways to enter. AAU INNOVATE Science and Innovation Hub improves connectivity within the campus, by creating new routes and shortcuts through the building.

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AAU Innovate - Science & Innovation Hub is a building with many points of arrival and no backsides. The building connects the different scales of the area by stepping up towards the Engineering Faculty, and down towards the neighbouring houses and the lake.

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The building will serve as a frame for the creative process, offering spaces of different size and proportion, that users are invited to move freely between. Internally, life intensifies around the dynamic Atrium Street – a space where spontaneous meetings can occur, and ideas can be nurtured across all fields.

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The Atrium Street connects the common functions with the individual workspaces and creates the possibility of informal meetings between different users.

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All floors are connected by The Atrium Street. It is the pulse of the building that connects the common functions with the individual workspaces. It is a diverse space with areas for stand-up meetings, coffee breaks, temporary installations, exhibitions, and 1:1 mock-up’s, used for interdisciplinary research and innovation.

Located between the new Civil Engineering Faculty and The Network House, AAU INNOVATE Science and Innovation Hub marks a common entry for all campus buildings. The Campus Plaza infront is a learning landscape, where the labs functions spill into the square in the form of outdoor garages.

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Location: Aalborg, Denmark

Client: Danish Building and Property Agency and A.P. Møller og Hustru Chastine Mc-Kinney Møllers Fond til Almene Formål

Program: University building at Aalborg University (AAU)

Size: 8,500 m²

Year: First prize in competition in 2017, completed 2022

Collaborators: Oluf Jørgensen, STED, MT Højgaard

Awards: City of Aalborg's Architecture Award 2022

Team: Alexander Ejsing, Ariel Norback Wallner, Dan Stubbergaard, Eik Bjerregaard, Mads Herskind Møller, Mikkel Reedtz Morris, Hugo Lebrunet, Jacob Blak, Jens Kert Wagner, Sidse Eskildesen, Susanne Skov Kunert, Thea Gasseholm, Thomas Hobbs, Ulrich Pohl.

Photographer:: Rasmus Hjortshøj - COAST

Image Credits: Please note that we had used a small number of images for which the copyright holders could not be identified. In these cases it has been our assumption that such images belong to the public domain. If you claim ownership of any of the images presented and have not been properly identified, please notify Cobe and we will make a formal acknowledgement..