The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg is planning a Biorepository Building with a fully automated, robotic liquid biopsy facility—a new blood-based method of analysis that can detect even minute amounts of tumor cells in a blood sample without requiring biopsies and histopathological examination. This will fill a gap in the capacity of many innovative cancer research projects at the DKFZ to detect cancers early, develop drugs, and monitor therapies.
The site to the north of Neuenheimer Feld adjoins the “technology park” on the DKFZ Campus. The building is extremely compact in design and consists of a laboratory and functional level on the first floor as well as three upper “storage levels.” These serve as a biobank and house the nitrogen-filled containers that are used to freeze the cells. The crucial technical services are located on the top floor. The eastern side of the building contains the access and supply core with technical, sanitary, and infrastructural services. This core connects the first-floor research area with the three storage levels above.
The only openings in the upper stories are those required for functional reasons: access openings for the storage containers, vents for supply and exhaust air, windows in the stairwell and emergency exits with ladders. The nitrogen is stored in an exterior tank which, while separate from the building, is integrated into its skin.
The closed facades feature a shelf construction with vertical greening in which the linear planters form a horizontal grid at the level of the floor slabs. Story-high climbing supports in the planters help train evergreen climbing plants that were selected for suitability to the growing conditions on the different sides of the building. The facade terminates in a projecting trellis at the top of the building.