3XN thinks inside the box with futuristic app-controlled office
3XN's Cube Berlin is an ambitious new office building in Germany that takes the form of an eye-catching glass box. The futuristic building provides office staff with a remarkable amount of control over their surroundings using a smartphone app and is designed to "learn" their habits over time.
Cube Berlin was commissioned by Austrian real estate developer CA Immo and measures 42.5 m (almost 140 ft) in each direction. Its facade features a complex pattern of triangles, with sections pushed inward to host outdoor terraces on each level. The roof is envisioned as a "fifth facade," and provides a large terrace area suitable for relaxing and hosting events. 3XN also contends that even with all that glazing, the building is still energy efficient.
"Contrary to conventional wisdom, the fully glazed facade of Cube Berlin is highly energy efficient due to its osmotic skin and thoughtful design that includes a pioneering application of solar coatings on the outer skin of the double facade," says the firm. "This, in addition to a suite of technical solutions that include energy capture from heat, allow Cube Berlin to perform as a highly energy effective fully glazed building."
Unfortunately, there are no interior shots available yet, but it measures 19,500 sq m (roughly 210,000 sq ft), spread over 10 floors, and is mostly taken up by office space, with some conference areas, a food market, and lobby.
Beyond its eye-catching glazed facade, Cube Berlin's most interesting feature is what 3XN calls a "digital brain" which allows office workers to control a significant degree of their environment using a smartphone app, including the lighting, heating and cooling, reserving parking spaces, and even ordering food – though there are no doubt alternative methods to ensure those without smartphones aren't required to sit in the dark and walk to work.
"Cube Berlin is a next generation smart building that sets new standards for the integration of intelligent digital user interfaces," adds 3XN. "Users are invited to interact with the building through a 'bring your own device' approach. This is achieved via an app that drives sustainable behavior and increases energy efficiency while reducing unnecessary operational costs and maintenance irregularities. In this way, users can interact with their workspaces in unprecedented ways. Smart features allow tenants to customize and control such features as: access control, indoor heating and cooling, maintenance, energy supply, room and parking reservations, charging of electric cars/bicycles, and more.
"Building operational information is stored in a large 'digital brain' server that connects the individual intelligent systems of Cube Berlin. Energy flow and consumption are monitored and maximized, resulting in a building that is both self-learning and highly efficient. In this way, the building and its users enter into an interplay where both are learning from each other. The building learns to adjust to the preferences of its users, while the users can control and adapt the building’s settings according to their desires and needs."
This should all start happening in the coming weeks as office workers are due to begin taking their places at their new desks in March.