Futurium David von Becker VB 7555

Photo: David von Becker

Learn more about our future-makers and their work

#FuturiumLab

The exhibits before your eyes in the Futurium Lab were created by future-makers from around the globe. We’ve compiled some interesting facts here about these people and their work – so read, listen, watch and try things out for yourself.

Futurium David von Becker VB 7555

Photo: David von Becker

Philip Beesley

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Philip Beesley's "Noosphere". Interactive Installation.

Photo: Jan Windszus


The Canadian Philip Beesleythinks beyond the boundaries of traditional building practice. The creator of the Noosphereis an avant-garde architect. He weaves together many disciplines in his exhibit: architecture, synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, mechanics, sound and light.

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In a TED talk (in English), Philip Beesley talks about his idea of living architecture.

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Hear it

Click hereto listen to an interview (in English) with the radio station CBC in which Philip Beesley talks about the feasibility of living architecture in the here and now.

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In an interview (in English) with the CLOT magazine, Beesley talks about his Noosphere at Futurium, as well as the significance of shapes in his work, and reveals what sometimes gets in the way of his creativity.

For those who want to read more about another work by the architect, here’s a book tip: Sentient Chamber(in Englisch). This book documents the installation of the Sentient Chamber at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington in 2016.

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Noosphere imitates biological processes.

Photo: Sang Lee, Ph.D.

Try it out

Have you ever wondered how the peaks of the Noosphere were made? Have a go! All you need is a cutter knife and this template:

Certain Measures and CloudFill

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Credit: David von Becker

Photo: David von Becker

Our scrap and rubble has a lot to offer: what we dispose of thoughtlessly often still has great potential. Houses in particular are almost never recycled. Demolished buildings end up in landfills or as a mountain of rubble on the outskirts of town. This is where the Berlin-based Büro für Designwissenschaften Certain Measures comes in: They want to rebuild houses after demolition in a new form - with CloudFill.

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Pretty futuristic: Watch as the team from Certain Measures reassembles an old dacha - according to the plans of the CloudFill software.

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There are real treasures of raw materials hidden in our cities. The city as a mine? Precious raw materials are no longer to be extracted from the ground, but from the walls of demolition-ready buildings. See for yourself:

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CloudFill co-founder Tobias Nolte spoke to the business magazine brand eins about urban mining as a market of the future. You can find the article here.

On the website of the German Federal Environment Agency you can find more links and publications for download, like this one:

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Can you really do that? In the podcast Zündfunk Generator, a student tells how it feels to live in a house made of garbage. It is a project of the Urban Mining & Recycling Unit of the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (Empa). Listen in here.

RE:EDU AND THE SENSEBOX

Across Berlin, 50 senseBoxes are measuring environmental factors such as temperature, humidity or levels of fine dust and sending the data to Futurium.

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Across Berlin, 50 senseBoxes are measuring environmental factors such as temperature, humidity or levels of fine dust and sending the data to Futurium.

Photo: David von Becker


All over the world, scientists are carrying out research into important phenomena to better understand our world. The larger the project, the greater the requirement for eager eyes and helping hands. Citizen science also has its place at Futurium, in the form of the senseBox by re:edu. Working together with dedicated citizens, we have already set up 50 senseBox measuring stations across Berlin. The resulting data is displayed on an interactive relief map in the Futurium Lab. In real time, visitors can take a reading of the current air quality in the city and witness how fine dust levels or temperatures change in Berlin during the “rush hour” or in winter through emissions caused by “home heating” or “from day to night”.

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Citizen science is a type of open science in which projects are carried out with the help of – or even entirely by – interested laypersons. They report their observations, carry out measurements or evaluate data. That professional scientists can also benefit from citizen science is shown in this examplein which ordinary citizens recorded the singing of nightingales. Another good example is Happywhale. Here, members of the public sent in their holiday snaps to help identify whales.

Katja Machill is the project manager of the online platform “Bürger schaffen Wissen” (“Citizens Create Knowledge”). In an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio she talks about the importance of citizen science and explains how everyone can get involved.

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This film by the Helmholtz Association explains the history of citizen science. Who would have guessed that it all began more than 300 years ago?

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On senseBox’s YouTube channel you’ll also find short films about how this device used by hobby researchers actually works.

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In this interview with Deutschlandfunk radio, hobby researchers talk about their projects and the value of citizen science for science as a whole.

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TRY IT OUT

Curious? Want to get into citizen science? The platform “Bürger schaffen Wissen” (“Citizens Create Knowledge”) provides a list of citizen science activities in Germany and beyond. There you can look for a suitable project for yourself and get involved.

And if you’ve already taken a fancy to the senseBox, then here you can order it and start measuring the air quality from your own home station.

Johanna Schmeer and The Outside Inside

The Outside Insideexplores the relationships between the environment, nature and technology. Johanna Schmeer’s small-scale ecosystems present plants, fungi and lichens that possess special abilities to effect change in their environments.

If we want to bring about change, we must question and adapt our expectations for the future. Speculative design focuses on the invention of notional objects from a possible future with the aim of changing the discourse.

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French designer Nelly Ben Hayoun and British designer James Auger have declared war on traditional object design. Staying true to the original idea behind speculative design, they play with people’s fear of technology and combine the useful with the amusing. As a result, they’ve come up with objects such as a microchip telephone built in to a tooth or the Soyuz Chair, which simulates a journey to the moon. But take a look yourself:

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The Netflix series Black Mirror tells stories from a dystopian near-future. The unifying element in the individual, unrelated episodes is the question: how are we humans going about our lives in our modern, technology-driven world? In this regard, Black Mirror places particular emphasis on how we’re dealing with developments and how the latter are affecting our everyday lives.

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In an interview with the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering future-maker Johanna Schmeer explains the importance of speculative design for research and innovation.

In a collection of short stories published by Suhrkamp Verlag and titled “Geschichten von Morgen” (Stories from Tomorrow) eleven authors tell us their visions of the near future. We read about a technology aimed at keeping the peace that calms stormy temperaments using pills or the sounds of the sea, and about an anaesthesia robot that takes on a life of its own. This very story, “Requiem” by Karl Wolfgang Flender, is currently nominated for the German Science Fiction Prize. Utopia? Dystopia? Decide for yourself. Click here to visit the publisher’s website.

In “Speculative Everything”, Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby propose a type of design that can be used to create not only things, but ideas. To them, design is a means of speculating about how things might be - what possible futures might look like. The authors ask “what if” questions intended to provoke debate and discussion about what kind of future we humans actually want (and don’t want).

Try it out

“The Thing from the Future” is a fantasy game that challenges you to describe objects from a range of alternative futures. The game aims to generate entertaining but thought-provoking hypothetical objects from possible futures. Here you can learn more about the game created by SITUATION LAB. Or get playing straight away with the free edition that you can print out yourself at home:

Under the hashtag #FuturiumSchule we’ve provided easy-to-follow instructions that you can use to build your own object of the future.

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kling klang klong and AI music

Ever conducted an orchestra? Or improvised with a professional musician? At three interactive points in the Futurium Lab, the creative sound artists kling klang klong give even musical amateurs a clever bit of help and let us all get creative simply by waving, pressing a button or playing the keyboard. Their supporting musician and star performer: artificial intelligence (AI).

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This is just one of the ways in which AIs can support creative processes. In what other ways can artificial and human intelligence get creative together?

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See here how you can get creative at Futurium with the exhibits by kling klang klong:

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What is artificial intelligence actually capable of? How creative is it, and could it even end up outshining traditional flesh-and-blood artists? Here you can watch artists and experts exchanging ideas at the DW Global Media Forum.

Ivan P. Yamshchikov is a mathematician and physicist at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences (MiS) in Leipzig. In this edition of public service broadcaster ARD’s Campus Talks he talks about how he teaches robots creativity and even makes them write poetry:

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Hear it

In the music industry, neural networks are bringing about far-reaching changes. With only a few clicks an algorithm can compose a romantic string quartet in the style of Franz Schubert. Try to guess for yourself which part of the music was written by a computer and which by a pianist:

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Okay, our next digital exhibit is not for the faint of ear. Death Metal – played by artificial intelligence. AI doesn’t hold back from any musical genre. Here you can listen to a livestream of the song Relentless Doppelganger:

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Yes, music can indeed be composed by machines, wrote the lecturer for piano and contemporary music Claudia Birkholz in a contribution for Science Year 2019, which was all about artificial intelligence. “But that need not scare us, because what the algorithm artists lack is creativity, is passion, is empathy.”

For BR Klassik, Antonia Morin takes us on an expedition through the different musical genres.

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The Drum Machine uses machine learning to organise everyday sounds. Similar sounds are arranged in close proximity to one another on a sound map. Did you know that a snorting buffalo sounds like a swinging door? If you let the markers move over the sounds, you can create entire drum sequences. By scrolling or searching for a general sound category, you create a piece of music consisting of four combined sounds. Give it a try – it’ll be worth it!

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Printed Tower – a Collaboration between Sven Pfeiffer and Caroline Høgsbro

Whether as robotic arms, complex sensor technology or drones – robotics has found its way into the architectural production process. Digital design and manufacturing methods have changed constructional and creative possibilities. Our project Printed Tower takes a look from different angles at the future possibilities of architectural design and production.

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Engineers, architects and designers are working on promising approaches to making buildings and cities not only more environmentally friendly, but also more flexible and in keeping with people’s needs. Find out more about the future of architecture here.

In the field of ceramic building materials – going beyond the use of ceramic tiles for decorative purposes – a rich variety of applications has been developed. So comprehensive is this variety that three Harvard professors have even written a book about it. It’s called Ceramic Material Systems. Multifunctional products make their appearance in the book as a holistic ecosystem – from material extraction and product design, to the design process and constructional implementation, right up to options for the products’ reutilisation.

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Find out about the Printed Tower project and its creators in our video portrait:

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So-called additive manufacturing has opened up new perspectives for the planning and assembly of buildings. This technology can be used to produce three-dimensional components according to predetermined dimensions and shapes – controlled by computers and without the help of any special tools. The Technical University of Munich (TUM) is simultaneously conducting research into two methods. See for yourself:

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Listen in

Robots have always fascinated us humans. Markus Knapp and his team produce the Robotics Lab Podcast (which, according to him, has the most listeners for a podcast on robotics topics) in which they pass on their experience, tips and tricks. Episode 111, for instance, deals with the world’s tiniest microelectronic robot and with a laser-assisted sandwich stacker. As you can see, the topics couldn’t be more diverse. In an interview with the creators of the podcast on the architects of the future, Knapp explains what fascinates him about robotics.

Ceramics is one of the important inventions of humankind. As early as the seventh millennium B.C., people in the Middle East were producing receptacles made of clay and water for storing liquids and grain, as well as for cooking food. Listen to the whole story here:

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History of Ceramics

Join in

This video will teach you how to build a simple robot arm all by yourself. A simple robot arm? Doesn’t really sound all that simple. But the Electronics Hub team explains it step by step. You can also find the building instructions here(in English).

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