High-tech circular AI campus pitched as Europe's Silicon Valley
As AI technology looks set to make a huge impact in the coming years – for better or worse – the German municipality of Heilbronn hopes to get in on the action and position itself as Europe's answer to Silicon Valley. To help kickstart this vision, it has commissioned high-profile firm MVRDV to create a high-tech AI innovation center that will take the form of a large a circular campus and boast sustainability features such as solar and wind power.
The Innovation Park Artificial Intelligence will measure 265,000 sq m (roughly 2.8 million sq ft) and will host laboratories and scientific buildings, as well as a startup center. There will also be housing and amenities like a restaurant and kindergarten, plus footpaths, a skatepark, and a running track.
Most of the buildings will be defined by simple rectangular forms with modest heights of around 27 m (88 ft), making them relatively easy and efficient to construct. However, there will be exceptions, such as an eye-catching round tower that will host a communications center and be topped by a rooftop garden.
An ancient Roman pathway will be incorporated and serve as the main north-south route, while the significant landscaping will include meadows that will be planted for AI agricultural research.
"The developments we have seen recently in the field of AI demand the attention of people from all walks of life, and with this design we create a compact campus for this to happen," explained MVRDV founding partner Jacob van Rijs. "The striking form of the campus can help to propel it to an international stage, attracting world-class talent. Meanwhile, the welcoming and engaging atmosphere, even the recognizable appearance, make this place a destination where people can engage in the future of this technology."
According to MVRDV, the energy consumption of the campus will be approximately 80% lower than that of a typical development of the same type and size. Insulating greenery covered roofs and energy efficient heating and cooling will help minimize energy usage, while electricity will be provided by a combination of wind turbines and solar panels. These will be connected to batteries, plus there's mention of a geothermal system too.
The Innovation Park Artificial Intelligence is the winning design of an international architecture competition and is being developed in collaboration with LOLA Landscape Architects, alongside Thornton Tomasetti, Studio Animal-Aided Design, Realace, Peutz Consult, and Gruner Deutschland. It's still early days yet though and we've no word on when it's expected to be completed.