Science in pentagonal format

The University of Konstanz, the University of Konstanz Society (UGK), the Hochschule Konstanz University of Applied Sciences (HTWG) and the city of Konstanz begin a joint project in science communication.

Gießberg hill, home of the University of Konstanz, is no ivory tower. The university prides itself on its tradition as a reform university and has never wanted to become such an isolated or even elite place. From the start, the university has cultivated lively exchange with society as a whole and the city of Konstanz and the Lake Constance region in particular. The university has been promoting active discussions through its wide range of dialogue and event formats that take place in Konstanz while acting as a force for innovation and impacting cultural life in the greater Konstanz area.

In keeping with this long tradition of participation in and dialogue on scientific topics, this new collaborative project reaches out to Konstanz’s residents using the joint resources of the university, the University of Konstanz Society (UGK), the HTWG and the city of Konstanz. The project with the working name “Wissenskubus” (or “knowledge cube”) will bring a piece of the university to different parts of the city using a mobile exhibition installation.

Mögliche Standorte der Fünfecke

The idea originated in the steering committee of the University of Konstanz Society (UGK). After the UGK had supported the construction of the new reading room in the University of Konstanz’s library, it wanted the new project to out to the broader public in Konstanz and the surrounding area:

“Our goal in funding the reading room was to demonstrate our support for the university itself. Our next larger project, however, will pursue the goal of presenting to Konstanz locals and visitors alike the fascinating and socially relevant topics researched and taught at the University of Konstanz”,

explains Björn Graf Bernadotte, President of the University of Konstanz Society. The initial idea was to create an exhibition pavilion, perhaps even one you could walk in to, that would explain current research priorities in Konstanz in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing and easy to understand.

The idea quickly won over friends and advocates

It became clear how well-established, reliable and dynamic the connection shared between the city of Konstanz, the HTWG and the University of Konstanz is. Right away, Mayor Uli Burchardt was ready to consider possible locations for the university’s proposed installation. But why settle for just one location when several are available? The head of the building division, Karl Langensteiner-Schönborn, contributed an elegant, advantageous suggestion: building the “Wissenskubus” so that it would be mobile and could be set up in varying locations in the city. For example, in the summertime it could visit Mainau Island or the harbourfront next to the Konzil building, while it could be set up by the Münster (cathedral) in the wintertime.

The communications teams at the university and the HTWG developed a list of requirements for the “Wissenskubus” that were used by Professor Schlag in a seminar in the winter semester of 2017/2018. Students worked in small groups and created impressively professional and creative concepts and models. A favourite was chosen unanimously: the vision of an all-woman team consisting of four future architects and a communications designer. The winning concept, entitled “5x5”, was developed by Carla Weiland, Stella Kappeler, Carolin Hensolt, Stefanie Kleiser and Lisa Debus. The title referred to both the five-person team and the physical shape of their idea: Five pentagons constructed out of aluminium surround a modular bench made of high-quality, weather-resistant wood.

The pentagons are positioned so that the space between them is demonstrably open. They include flatscreens and interactive elements visualizing different current topics and content from the university and the HTWG’s portfolios. “We wanted to create a place that fits in well with its surroundings and invites passersby to explore it”, says the “5x5” team. Visitors can rest on the bench and take in the surrounding nature, city life or panoramic view, (depending on the current location), while also having the opportunity to dive into the world of science and research. Whether they take a quick glance or plumb the depths, visitors decide for themselves.

Providing the opportunity to inform yourself directly and at your own pace is a decisive part of science communication at the University of Konstanz. “Our goal is not just to report on aspects of the university or to market its successes - the focus is placed instead on the topics and content themselves as well as the stories they tell”, says University of Konstanz Press Officer Julia Wandt. The goals for this special project “Wissenskubus”, inspiring visitors, fascinating them and strengthening their confidence in science, also guide the university’s overall science communication efforts.

Open doors and supporting networks in the field of science

Professor Eberhardt Schlag (communications design/architecture , HTWG), Professor Harald Reiterer and Professor Falk Schreiber (both Department of Computer and Information Science, University of Konstanz) have created a variety of interactive exhibitions together, like, for example, the “Rebuilt Palmyra” exhibition that was successful both in the region and beyond. From their experiences, they knew that such sophisticated communications projects can profit extensively from the expertise of their participants and the fresh ideas provided by the students’ concepts and models.

Susanne Mahler-Siebler

By Susanne Mahler-Siebler - 19.09.2018