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The “Smart House”:  Promoting Science in Oldenburg
The idea behind the “Smart House”

When Oldenburg was awarded the designation „City of Science” in  Germany’s annual  “Stadt der Wissenschaft“ competition in 2009, it was decided that more should be done to promote public awareness of science and scientific developments,  especially at research and academic institutions in the region. Traditionally, such institutions have rarely developed educational programmes tailored to the needs of the general public. However, the primary goal of this effort was to make science more accessible to the public.

The idea of providing a single venue for the project emerged, leading to the establishment of the “Smart House”. In 2010 the foundation stone for the complex was laid, and it opened its doors in 2012.  Located in Oldenburg’s historic city centre, the Smart House offers an ideal platform for co-operation and dialogue between institutions of higher learning, business, government, and members of the general public. Here, presentations, workshops, and exhibitions give the public an opportunity to learn about and benefit from the insights of scientists who are experts in their fields.

The Smart House seeks to promote Oldenburg as an ideal location for scientific research and higher education. In addition, it supports development processes which ensure that the region< is able to meet the challenges of the future.

Architecture of the Smart House

The oldest building in Oldenburg – a historically protected residence- was chosen for the Smart House. Its renovation took over two years and involved the incorporation of a number of innovative and sustainable technologies. The original historic building has been extended to include a newly constructed addition with a large window front facing the street, providing ample natural light.

The Smart House combines both new and old architectural features. Examples of modern technology such as photovoltaic modules make for a building that is “fit for the future”. A light shaft extends from the ground floor to the ceiling, bringing sunlight to areas of the interior that would otherwise be dark. Thanks to its design, the light shaft also provides optimal natural ventilation for the entire building. Other examples of “smart technology” include energy monitors which keep track of energy use as well as motion detectors which regulate lighting and ventilation.

Concept of the Smart House

The concept for the utilization of the Smart House is as innovative as its architecture. All year round, it serves as a venue for academic conferences and symposia held by the University of Oldenburg and the Jade University of Applied Sciences.  More than 670 m² of floor space as well as modern conference rooms – equipped with the latest audiovisual technology – create an ideal setting for presentations and discussions. Two exhibition areas provide space for hands-on scientific demonstrations.

Scientists from both universities regularly conduct workshops and hold presentations on recent research findings as well as on general developments in science. These are geared specifically toward the general public. Thus, the Smart House offers an ideal forum for the world of science to communicate with the wider world.