German city and Lidl owner to build circular artificial intelligence campus

A digital rendering of how the circular Innovation Park Artificial Intelligence Ipai campus could look from above A digital rendering of how the circular Innovation Park Artificial Intelligence Ipai campus could look from above (Image: MVRDV)

Architecture firm MVRDV has won a deal to design a circular campus to develop AI technologies called the Innovation Park Artificial Intelligence (Ipai), in the German city of Heilbronn.

The development will be a mix of laboratories, a business campus, start-up innovation centre, housing, communication centre, with restaurants and kindergarten.

The Municipality of Heilbronn, the Dieter Schwarz Foundation and Schwarz Group are backing the project with the aim of making it a world-leading site for the development of AI technology.

Dieter Schwarz is a billionaire German businessman and owner of the Schwarz Group. He is the former chairman and CEO of the supermarket chain Lidl.

A 1.2km-long path will surround the campus, while most of the buildings inside it will take simple rectangular forms and have a consistent height of 27m. The communications centre will take the form of a round tower and act as a centrepiece of the development.

A digital rendering of the Innovation Park Artificial Intelligence (Ipai) in Heilbronn, Germany A digital rendering of the Innovation Park Artificial Intelligence (Ipai) in Heilbronn, Germany (Image: MVRDV)

During operation, the energy consumption of the campus will be around 80% lower than a typical campus of the same size.

Bioclimatic façades and energy-efficient building services will help to minimise the energy required to run the campus, while renewable energy will be produced locally through wind turbines and solar panels and stored using batteries and ground-based heat and cold storage.

MVRDV said it expected the campus to be 100% carbon neutral over its lifespan, once reforestation of the landscape and the embodied carbon in the buildings themselves is included.

The design was developed in collaboration with LOLA Landscape Architects alongside Thornton Tomasetti, Studio Animal-Aided Design, REALACE, Peutz Consult, and Gruner Deutschland.

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