New Building for Fraunhofer CML

Art in architecture: Interview with Julius von Bismarck

On Monday, 27 March 2023, Julius von Bismarck was a guest at the CML. He created the artwork "Ocean Apparatus". This involves four red buoys that are attached high up on our research building in Harburg's inland harbour. They move like real buoys on the open sea. These movements are based on real wave measurement data from buoys on the open sea. On Monday, Julius von Bismarck spoke to us about his creative process and his thoughts on "Ocean Apparatus".

© Jörg Dedering
© Studio von Bismarck
© Fraunhofer CML

What was the brief for this specific project?

It was quite open. For example, possible locations were mentioned where the artwork could be located, but nothing was specified. However, the artwork should have something to do with the research field "Maritime Sector". But it could also have been a picture or a sound installation, for example.

You have often dealt with the topics of the ocean and seas. What exactly attracts you to them?

The sea is a classic place of longing - for me too. It used to be considered hostile to life, then people thought they could control it. But awareness has continued to change: It's now more about preserving nature.

How did you approach the project?

I work a lot with movement. The attraction here was to bring movement into or onto a static building. The movements of the "Ocean Apparatus" are calculated on the basis of wave measurement data transmitted in real time from buoys located on the open sea. Depending on the weather conditions, the buoys appear to be floating slowly or swaying lively, spurred on by the raging sea.

How did you come up with the idea of the buoys?

On the one hand, through the building architecture. The new research building is like a stone ship. I had also worked with buoys before, albeit in a completely different context.

Are they real buoys?

No, but they come from a company that manufactures real buoys.

What material are the buoys made of?

Made of steel because of the fire protection

How many employees were involved in the construction?


Were there any particular challenges in the project? Which ones?

Corona, because many schedules were delayed as a result: First there was nothing going on for a while, then everything came at the same time. And then the project is also very complex.

Have you developed art-in-architecture projects before? What is important to you?

Yes, since the pandemic. I think these kinds of projects are good because they are for people who don't necessarily go to museums. I'm not targeting a specialised audience, but the art is part of everyday life and at the same time more permanent. But I don't specialise in it.

The movement patterns come from real waves. Where exactly are they located?

We are currently using measurement data from the Atlantic Ocean near the Bay of Biscay. This is publicly accessible data. In future, however, I would like to work with the users of the building to decide which data we want to use and which ocean will surround the CML.

What effect do you expect art in architecture to have in general and this project in particular?

We are always happy to receive feedback. We have an Instagram channel and realise that the public is responding. The "Ocean Apparatus" installation is an invitation to visitors and employees of the Fraunhofer CML as well as the residents of Harburg to look at the sea in a new and different way.

What have you learnt from this project and what have you taken with you for other projects?

Interestingly, the technology was important first, then the artistic aspect. The measurement data comes from both main and secondary waves, is broken down mathematically and then predicted. It's all very complex. The artistic aspect doesn't necessarily have to have anything to do with technology - that's more of a niche. However, engineers, mechatronics engineers and architects also work in my studio. That's why the project suits us very well.



Ceremonial inauguration of the new CML building

On 29 August 2022, the new building of the Fraunhofer Center for Maritime Logistics and Services CML at the Lotsekanal in Harburg's inland harbour was ceremoniously opened. The inauguration of the new building took place in the presence of the First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Dr Peter Tschentscher, the President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft e.V., Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, the President of the Technical University of Hamburg, Prof. Andreas Timm-Giel, and the Director of the CML, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Carlos Jahn. Afterwards, around 100 guests from politics, business, science and the neighbourhood visited the maritime-looking new landmark. 

Mounting the Antenna Platform

In early March 2022, the antenna platform was mounted on the roof of the new building, reinforcing the visual association of a ship. The platform will carry radar and antennas for radio and data transmission and will also enable proprietary 5G applications.

Progress in Interior Design

Most of the glass walls of the offices are in place and the kitchens, laboratories and elevators are being prepared. 


Outlook on the offices

The interior work is progressing, the partition walls have been built and the office sizes can be seen. In the workshops, the shafts have been laid, exhaust air systems have been installed and the power connections have been made. The kitchen and the sanitary facilities will follow next, but there is still a lot to do in the remaining buildings. Until then, we will keep you informed:

Impressions from the new Building Shell

The video shows the status of our new building in February 2021.

Completion of the Building Shell

© Fraunhofer CML

In the fall of 2020, the shell of our new building was completed. Subsequently, the completion of the building hull against wind and weather was implemented, so that the interior work could begin in the protected building. 


Ready for a Drone Flight?

The drone video shows the status of construction in late summer 2020.

Laying of the foundation stone for the new CML building on 26.6.2019

On 26.6.2019, the foundation stone for the new Fraunhofer CML building in Harburg's inland port was laid in the most beautiful summer weather. The head of the CML, Professor Carlos Jahn, sank the time capsule together with Hamburg's First Mayor Dr. Peter Tschentscher. More information and pictures can be found in our press release.

© Marco Grundt

General Information

By now, a construction crane has been erected on the site by the Lotsekanal and the ground plate of our new building has been largely completed. At the beginning of 2020 we will start building construction, which could already have reached the ground floor and the first floor by spring. The building is scheduled to be completed in the course of the year, and the building should be ready for moving-in in the second half of 2021.

In 2019, the sheet piling on the Lotse and Kaufhaus Kanal was extensively renovated. A public path along these waterways will be accessible after completion of the construction. The foundation was completed by mid-2019. 111 screw piles were driven into the ground to ensure a stable foundation for the eight-storey building.  

The ceremonial laying of the foundation stone with greetings from the First Mayor of Hamburg, the Executive Board of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the President of the TU Hamburg and the architect of the building took place at the end of June 2019.

A total of €20 million has been budgeted for the project. Half of the new building and the initial equipment of the Fraunhofer CML will be financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).