Because information systems are continuously developing and everyday life is becoming increasingly digitised, we as a society are becoming less and less used to working with tangible materials. This has produced a vacuum in respect of the authenticity, emotion, identity and long-term use of materials and resources. This vacuum needs to be filled and new approaches developed. Greater emphasis needs to be put on the sensory and physical properties of the material. When it comes to manufacturing, combining modern technologies with a broad knowledge of materials leads to innovative applications.
The materials aspect represents a core focal point in the individual areas of specialisation. The Laboratory makes an extensive body of knowledge available in terms of, firstly, the acquisition, processing, technical properties, functionality and applications of materials; secondly, sensory perception; and, thirdly, creative possibilities.
Materials need to be considered across their entire spectrum, from the acquisition of raw materials to the disposal of waste, or recycling. In terms of the broad sweep of resources, the Laboratory's focus falls explicitly on material-specific aspects. In particular, its investigations into the utilisation of raw materials, reduction of waste, and grey energy in general, facilitate a sustainable approach to the use of materials. By considering material cycles through a forward-looking lens, the Laboratory seeks to focus on each stage of the life cycle for its energy-oriented aspects and environmental compatibility.
The Laboratory's knowledge of the properties of materials and their processing serves as a basis for a well-founded and considered study of resources as a topic of investigation. It focuses on the life cycles of materials, components used for construction, objects and buildings. In doing so, it considers the relevant ecological, economic and social aspects, as well as the role played by life cycle costs.
Design and production
The interplay between digital and manual manufacture these days opens up a wealth of potential. The Laboratory considers it important to combine the advantages of the two sides – their different knowledge bases and processes – in order to create new possibilities. Throughout all this, knowledge which is intrinsic to the material is just as important as familiarity with the latest digital design and production methods.
The key method relating to the design and production of spatially relevant objects is at the root of the disciplines in question, whereby the focus is on tangible realisation. The manifestation of this core competence varies according to the discipline. This can lead to new findings by means of a joint work process. One of the Laboratory's main features is its ability to look beyond the limits of the various disciplines. Moreover, its familiarity of manufacturing processes across the board constitutes an important basis and leads to the derivation of corresponding research topics.
Business partners thereby benefit from the added value that accrues from blending design and manufacture competences in the area of materiality and resources. In concrete terms, the research involved takes the form of models, mock-ups and prototypes.