The project ” Founder Laboratory” is based on the concept of the multi-stage research project CUBITY “Plus Energy and Modular Future Student Living”. The FounderLAB offers the possibility to incorporate the findings from stage 2 – LivingLAB as well as the transferability of the use of living to working into the currently approved research phase (stage 3 – “From prototype to marketability”: 2019-2020).



The city of Würzburg was awarded the contract for the construction of a new business incubator as part of the „Digital Founder Centres“ support programme of the Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs and Media, Energy, and Technology on the basis of the concept presented there.

Together with the city of Würzburg as the client, the Centre for Digital Innovations (ZDI) Mainfranken as the user and the Department of Design and Building Technology of the TU Darmstadt headed by Prof. Anett-Maud Joppien as it ́s design author and planner; the innovative model project FounderLAB is being developed based on the preliminary work from the projects CUBITY and LivingLAB.

The FounderLAB will be built on a central, slightly elevated quarter square of the Landesgartenschau 2018, on the conversation area of the former Leighton Baracks. The foundation stone will be laid on 28 June 2017 and will be inaugurated by Franz Josef Pschierer, Minister of State for Economics, Energy and Technology, on 9 May 2018. henne schönau architekten were responsible for the planning submission, working + tender documents, and site supervision.

Today, the FounderLAB site is embedded in a central park and belongs to the new Hubland district which is currently under construction. The Hubland campus of the Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg, in the immediate vicinity are housing and shopping/ supply facilities. Thus young founders will find optimal living and working conditions as well as recreational opportunities in the vicinity of the business incubator.

Spatial concept

The architectural concept of the FounderLAB does justice to the creative processes and specific working methods in the founding and finding phase of young entrepreneurs. It offers an inspiring and team-oriented spatial structure which consists of an ideas laboratory, a founders‘ laboratory and the incubator. These unconventional space offers to promote the further development of innovative digital business ideas into first examples or prototypes for IT founders or start-up companies.

The areas, e.g. for prototype workshops, start-up offices, co-working areas as well as recreation and communication rooms, are organised in an elevated two-and-a-half storey walk-in spatial sculpture that unfolds in an eight-metre high, bright open hall space. Large-format room closures such as curtains or sliding doors allow for flexible change in usuage for different work constellations, to create individual rooms for concentrated work and large flowing common areas with numerous co-working areas. In this aspect the FounderLAB maintains the open character of creative work.

To create a home-like atmosphere and using domestic materials, open choice of furnishing; it reflects the abolition of the separation of living and working world. This is characteristic for this work phase. Rooms with different characteristics are created, which include those for retreat and relaxation. Fixed technical core areas for technology, sanitary rooms and makerspace give structure to the floor plan. The translucent façade shell combines the different locations in a calm, light, large form and gives the Gründerlabor the conciseness and solitary power of a landmark in thus new emerging district.


The design concept is based on the cubic structure of the Founder- LAB which has the external dimensions: 16.60 x 16.60 x 9.50 metres. The primary supporting structure of the outer walls is a timber skelet structure. V-shaped wooden columns, connected to the lower and upper chord of the surrounding wooden trusses by carpenter connections. This characterises the structural design of the outer walls. The inner walls of the room structure are built in timber stud const- ruction.

The supporting structure of the roof consists of a grid of glulam beams arranged in a square grid. For the cross-over load-bearing effect of the wooden trusses, the beams placed between them are rigidly connected to each other in order to use the roof structure as a plane for stiffening the building.

In keeping with the architectural concept of openness and flexibility, the individual cubes have openings that allow them to relate to the central areas in the hall and the surrounding attractive exterior space. Through the fixed-glazed openings or sliding elements, which can be individually regulated according to the work situation.


Characteristic elements of the building envelope are the post-and- beam facade surrounding the ground floor and the cladding of the upper level with printed polycarbonate facade elements, which provide the structure for the FounderLAB horizontally. The wooden supports of the construction are visible through the transparent or translucent facade, arranged in a V-shape. This gives the facade a rythm and creates a different external appearance to the FounderLAB during the day or at night. The open facade design of the building envelope follows the architectural concept and provides the connection to the attractive exterior space.

The FounderLAB is accessed through four possible glazed door ele- ments which act as entrances. These are integrated almost imperceptibly into the mullion and transom facade on the ground floor level. The double-wing door on the south facade is the main entrance.

Due to the translucent or transparent properties of the facade, there are special demands placed on summer thermal insulation. This is a major challenge of the project (see „Summer thermal insulation“).


Hublandplatz 1 | 97074 Würzburg
Mai 2018
Building dimensions
16,60 x 16,60 x 9,50 m
– Reinforced concrete floor plate
– Primary supporting structure as 3 V-shaped wooden columns each facade surface
– Secondary supporting structure as horizontal facade transoms to support the building envelope
– Roof structure as support grating made of BSH
– Cross laminated timber ceiling
Building shell
– Ground floor: post-and-beam facade with triple glazing
– Upper floor: printed polycarbonate multiwall panels with 11 chambers
Gross floor area
399,96 m2
Gross volume
2.542,79 m3
Effective area
278,65 m2
Number of workplaces


Regenerative power supply

Sponsored by a municipal utility company a photovoltaic system with an output of 21.6 kWp on the flat roof of FounderLAB, supplies the building with energy. In addition to feeding into the VRF (Variable Ref- rigerant Flow) cooling system, this generated energy is used to cover the base load requirement at night and during weekends.

The FounderLAB is connected to the network of the municipal energy supplier through a house connection column outside the building by means of an empty pipe connection into the electrical engineering room.

The power supply inside the building is ensured on the ground floor through screed-covered floor ducts and corresponding supply tanks. On the upper floor, however, the electrical supply is routed inside the wooden stud walls or in the suspended ceilings.

Light concept facade

Several lighting studies to test the night-time effect of the FounderLAB provide the basis for the final arrangement of a circumferential RGBW – LED light band on the facade, in darkness the light colour changes. This creates different accents and different moods for interior and exterior spaces.


Active components

The temperature control of heating and cooling is carried out by a VRF system (Variable Refrigerant Flow) using conditioned air. The system is installed as a two pipe system where a refrigerant is used for cooling and heating. VRF air conditioning system has a very good energy efficiency. As a central air conditioning system it needs considerably less space.

The VRF modules can be operated as a chiller or heat generator depending on season and demand. The heating or cooling capacity needed to be generated is automatically and continuously adjusted to the current demand by the inverter-controlled compressor in the VRF module thus saving energy and operating costs. This system can replace a classic oil or gas heat generator and can be operated throughout the year as a temperature control system.

Ceiling units located mainly in the individual offices and workshops introduce conditioned air; the air is discharged via ventilation slots in the ceilings in the area of the cantilevered sections of the upper floor, such as the tea kitchen, the plenum and the co-working area in the northwest.

Passive components

The storage mass of the reinforced concrete floor slab is used for night cooling. The insulation of the floor slab is found exclusively on the underside; the floor structure consists, of 80 mm of cement screed with filler. Thermally well positioned ventilation openings in the mullion-and-transom façade of the ground floor and in the four generous skylights support the passive cooling of the interior. These ventilation openings are controlled by a wind / rain and temperature sensors and opened and closed by motor.

Summer heat protection

Summer thermal insulation represents a great opportunity for the development and testing of innovative solutions. For example, internal sun protection blinds on the ground floor and motor-controlled external blinds on the four flat roof windows in the area of the glazed elements provide summer thermal insulation, while an innovative approach was chosen for the polycarbonate facade of the upper floor.

This is the first time that the polycarbonate elements have been printed with a screen printed graphic made of durable, matt reflective coating. The degree of printing, which is specifically adapted to the project, is based on a simulation studies of the building, where the exact location, existing technical equipment and the internal spatial structure were taken into account as parameters. The final printing is the result of a technical coordination by means of a test series on 1:1 samples done in cooperation with two specialised companies.

A further innovation is the use of an internal sun protection curtain, with a height of approx. 5.30 m from the lower edge of the roof edge truss to the upper edge of the mullion and transom facade. When extended, the length of the curtain covers the length of one facade side which is approx. 15.50 m and runs over two facade sides on round corner rail elements. A motorized control adjusts the position of the curtain, which is determined by the position of the sun.

Room air technology

A compact ventilation unit with a capacity of 1,750 m3/h is used for room air conditioning (RLT). It is designed according to the workplace health and safety quidelines with an air exchange rate of 35m3/ h*person. The building is treated as an air network; only the workshops and sanitary areas have separate supply and extract air. The RLT system is equipped with a heat recovery system to which the exhaust air from the WC rooms is connected. The control of the air handling system is preset through a weekly program, but can also meet manual requirements. The system can be individually adapted to the use of the building, however room-by-room control is not possible.

Water supply | disposal

The water supply is provided by the connection to the public supply and disposal network. Waste water is disposed of through the public combined sewerage system, the rainwater is channelled into a trough-trench through an open-channel system. Drainage works through gravity drainage systems largely without lifting equipment. Instantaneous water heaters take over the hot water supply, thereby reducing excess warmwater usuage. This corresponds to an sensible energy solution, as heat losses are reduced due to the short pipe runs, a low concurrence can be assumed and the water is only heated when directly required.

Building automation

A mini-server from the manufacturer Loxone for building control is used as the control unit for the artificial lighting, shading system and ventilation.

The different systems are controlled by means of buttons on site, a free app from the manufacturer or directly on the computer using a coordinated web interface. If required, users can save individual needs in addition to central functions.

The internal facade curtain is automatically moved into position according to the position of the sun. In the summer months, depending on the outside and inside temperature or weather conditions, automated night-time cooling is provided from the openings in the facade at ground level and the roof windows. The VRF system is equipped with a control panel in the plant room for central control.


The timber frame interior walls, are insulated with mineral wool in accordance with sound insulation and acoustic specifications for workplaces. The fine perforation of the wooden surfaces provide acoustic insulation as well as creating structures of the wall surfaces of the cubes.

The ceilings above the ground floor and the upper floor are designed as cross laminated timber ceilings whose mass helps to dampen noise. Suspended ceilings are provided within the cubes for easy installation of the TGA elements. The perforated ceilings are covered with insulating elements in the hollow space in order to achieve the required acoustic standard in the working rooms.

Users can decide individually whether to allow visual connection to the central areas or to withdraw for concentrated work. Movable, translucent plexiglass elements can be pushed in front of the openings in the working cubes to reduce acoustic disturbances.

Project Partners

Concept and design (service phases 1-3)



Press / Awards

Awards FounderLAB

2018Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Forsten Holzbaupreis Bayern 2018 Appreciation
2019Bund Deutscher Zimmermeister im Zentralverband
des deutschen Baugewerbes
Deutscher Holzbaupreis – Neubau Appreciation of the jury