Over the course of two days, BLOXHUB held a kick-off event for a new Danish-German Innovation Lab with Hamburg’s tech hub Factory Hammerbrooklyn. Several companies from both German and Danish ecosystems came to Copenhagen for talks, networking, and a workshop about healthy buildings.
To face the challenge of sustainable urbanization, Copenhagen’s BLOXHUB and Hamburg’s Factory Hammerbrooklyn have launched a new Danish-German Innovation Lab. The kick-off of the collaboration was marked by a two-day event held in Copenhagen, where a number of companies from both the Danish and German ecosystems joined the two hubs.
The entire kick-off program revolved around the theme of healthy buildings and more specifically healthy office buildings – a topic that has been increasingly in demand in the wake of the pandemic. National lockdowns forced many people to work from home, which for some prompted the question: When you can work from home, what function does the office building have? And how do we create office buildings that aren’t just places, where you have a desk and a computer, but become spaces that contribute to people’s wellbeing and sense of purpose?
In order to investigate these questions, the kick-off event included an interdisciplinary workshop where the participants came up with various ideas and solutions regarding healthy buildings. As the participants came from different fields and two different countries, the day also presented lots of opportunities for inspiration and knowledge sharing.
Holistic approach and different perspectives
To concretize the challenge of healthy office buildings, the workshop participants were asked to take a critical look at different aspects of the BLOX building. How could the residents inside the building engage in a more healthy and sustainable behavior? How could the BLOX building be more integrated into the surrounding community and the city of Copenhagen? What could have been done differently if the BLOX building were build today?
What followed was an inspiring day of ideas, discussions, and presentations of findings from the different groups. Some groups emphasized the need to think about how the building could be more physically open towards the surrounding area, inviting people in instead of coming off as a glass fortress. Other groups focused on nudging as a way of encouraging residents of the building to help further the agenda of healthy buildings.
All in all, the participants seemed to agree on the notion that you cannot talk about healthy buildings if you are just focusing on the physical frame of the building or forgetting the context, the building exists in. You have to see how a building contributes to the surrounding community as well and think about the role of the people using the building. CEO of Leapcraft, Vinay Venkatraman, says of the takeaways from the workshop:
“I think the main learning that we’ve gotten is that healthy buildings are not just about technical interventions, but it’s also about having a human-centric approach to creating an inclusive and well-balanced work- and living space. Of course, the technical solutions are important, and they are the foundation of a lot of healthy buildings, but you need a more holistic approach”.
What also perhaps inspired the idea of a more holistic approach was the sheer variety of professions, companies and people represented at the workshop. Participants came from fields of tech, architecture, interior design, engineering, and real estate to name a few, and the quality of the conversation changes, when you have different views on the same challenge, says Julia Gebert, CEO of RYSTA GmbH:
“It emphasizes that the topics we’re dealing with matter to a lot of people. It matters to the people I’ve met here, and it’s interesting to hear the Danish side of things. You’re always, I think, slightly ahead in terms of being pioneering in improving living conditions and that’s interesting for us to see. And it has also been a good occasion for networking. The variety of people meeting here is interesting because it adds more perspectives and challenges. In the end it helps to get solutions out there faster.”
Networking and sharing across borders
In the short breaks between discussions, focused work and presentations of findings, the workshop room was still buzzing with talk. A big part of the Danish-German Innovation Lab is the development of network and partnerships across the border. Both BLOXHUB and Factory Hammerbrooklyn believe that the best way to face issues like sustainable urbanization is through sharing and collaboration, which were big themes at the kick-off event in general and the workshop in particular. Interior architect at POHA House, Kasia Mijas-Galloway, says:
”I think it’s amazing that as a country and as a creative industry in Denmark you want to share your knowledge and pull other countries and other people into the creative bubble you have here. You recognize that there is a need for what you’re doing not just in Denmark but everywhere. So I think it’s great of you that you’re bringing in the German industry. I think it’s going to be a very solid and powerful collaboration.”
Several workshop participants said that they had met people at the workshop whom they would consider working with in the future, and people were generally excited about the future of the Danish-German Innovation Lab and the meeting of the two neighboring markets. CEO of the Danish company Ubiqisense, Palle Dinesen, says of the possibilities presented by the cross-border collaboration:
“We are of course interested in the German market, and it was very interesting to hear from the German participants about what they do, and how our company could help with that mission. So, the Danish-German aspect of the day was very interesting, as was the many different competencies represented at the table today. When you get the interdisciplinary dialogue going, that’s when opportunities really arise.”
The kick-off event workshop was just the first in a series of many. BLOXHUB and Factory Hammerbrooklyn will take turns hosting biyearly workshops to ensure a strong relationship between the two ecosystems. The next workshop will be held in Hamburg at Factory Hammerbrooklyn in six months’ time. In the meantime, participants from this first kick-off will be invited to an informal roundtable for further conversation of collaboration opportunities.
If you want to know more about the Danish-German Innovation Lab and collaboration with Factory Hammerbrooklyn, please reach out to Head of Strategic Partnerships, Martine R. Kildeby on +45 2268 4648 / firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to know more about the healthy buildings-workshop and workshops in general, please reach out to Urban Partnerships Program Manager Torben Krab at +45 51624031 / email@example.com.