The Hamburg Environmental Institute (HUI), a non-profit organisation for the scientific analysis of environmental topics, has acquired a new domain: the Museum of the Future in Lueneburg. The institution, which carries an obvious contradiction in its name, is currently being constructed in a former day care centre on Papenstrasse. Both the owner of the building, Professor Dr Michael Braungart − co-inventor of the Cradle to Cradle concept and lecturer at Lueneburg Leuphana University − and the HUI, the institution which will be responsible for the activities, have a vision for the building: they want it to gradually develop into a meeting place for those who want to become active in the fight against climate change and for a world of coexistence, a place of encounter, a research laboratory for students and, above all, a place where the Cradle to Cradle idea can be tested, lived and developed.
WAST EQUALS FOOD
Cradle to Cradle is a design concept developed by Michael Braungart, the founder of the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA), together with the American architect William McDonough. It describes a world in which materials are assigned to two spheres − a biological metabolism and a technical metabolism − so that no garbage is produced. Production is based on three principles: waste is food, the use of renewable energies, and a celebration of diversity.
At the Museum of the Future, the Cradle to Cradle idea will be tested in practice with innovative techniques and modern communication. On a recent weekend, an open afternoon was held for neighbours, residents and interested members of the public. Braungart explained that the plan was to do research for the future. He has assembled a team whose members pursue the same goals he does: educational director Gerhard Cassens and architects Stephan Seeger and Susanne Puschmann, who have been tasked with the reconstruction of the listed building from 1911.
EDIBLE CHAIR COVERS
Changes are to be implemented as an integral part of the process: currently, the heating system is still wood-fired, one day it will be powered by algae oil and fuel cells. The carpets are to fulfil an additional function as air filters, the chairs already feature edible covers. The idea is for the house itself to be a perpetual place of experimentation instead of being transformed into a neat “dollhouse” with a fixed concept within a pre-defined six-month period. Ideas to help establish the building as a meeting place have already been put forward: “If you want to organise a flea market or plant tomatoes − you are welcome”, Michael Braungart told his guests. The afternoon was rounded off with coffee and cake, drinks and live music from the Lueneburg-based band Casino-Set. The neighbours were impressed – they turned out in large numbers to inform themselves.
RESEARCH WITH MUSHROOMS
There is also a designated space within the house for students of Lueneburg Leuphana University: In the cellar, they conduct research into mushrooms as a raw material for consumables and consumer goods. Under Braungart’s guidance, students of the Sustainability Science master’s degree program have been researching the development, use and distribution of mushroom-based materials that adhere to Cradle to Cradle principles. In January 2019, they also organised the first edition of the Lueneburg mushroom days, in which various applications of these wonderful creatures between animal and plant are demonstrated. For instance, they can be used as insulating material, as seasoning, as a remedy and much more.