Press release

New multifunctional workshop building for the Alfred Wegener Institute on Heligoland – Inauguration and Open Day

[19. June 2013] 

Heligoland/Bremerhaven, 19 June 2013. A new workshop building for the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, is being inaugurated on Heligoland on Thursday, 20 June 2013.  The new workshop building completes the first phase of the so-called Bluehouse Greenhouse concept: the development of a modern research complex that achieves an energy balance which is as climate-neutral as possible.  The building cost € 1.65 million, with investment especially in sustainable construction.  The festive inauguration is the start of the open day of the Biological Station Heligoland.  In addition to the new workshop, other buildings belonging to the Institute will be open to interested visitors, such as the training laboratory opened in the spring of 2013.  


A marine research institute in the middle of the German Bight demands a high degree of self-reliance if something breaks.  The “Service and Technology” team helps out when machinery or test equipment needs to be repaired.  The new building at the eco-lab of the Biological Station Heligoland in the southern port of the island provides space for up to twelve members of staff from Service and Technology.  In future they will be able to work on metal, wood and plastics and also carry out painting, adhesive and welding work in the two-storey building.


The team supports scientific work in a number of ways.  For example the technicians make filtration systems for microbiological experiments or equipment, in which researchers examine how plastic waste is transformed or colonised in the North Sea.  But the forces of nature are not only active in water, and the buildings in Heligoland are also exposed to rough conditions.  Their maintenance is another area dealt with by the technical team, which has already moved into the modern workshop building.


“The new multifunctional room on the ground floor of the workshop has an extraction unit, so we can use adhesives there without a problem”, says technical manager Heino Peters when explaining the advantages of the new building.  “In addition to offices and technical rooms, the first floor also has a meeting room where we can discuss the project ideas of scientists with them and bring them to fruition”, Peters continues.


“The foundation of the Greenhouse concept for efficient renovation of our buildings on Heligoland has now been laid.  We paid particular attention to sustainability when building the new workshops”, emphasised Prof. Dr. Karen Wiltshire, who runs the Biological Station Heligoland.  “We extract the heat from used air in the rooms via the ventilation system and re-use it via heat exchangers for heating”, Wiltshire says when explaining the heat recovery system.  Hot water is also obtained from a solar collector and the toilets are flushed using rainwater.  On Thursday, 20th June at 11 a.m., Wiltshire and Peters will be inaugurating the new building.  As well as Heligoland’s mayor Jörg Singer, members of the Bundestag Dr. Ole Schröder, Michael Kretschmer, Rüdiger Kruse and Dr. Ernst-Dieter Rossmann will be present.  They are strongly committed to the Bluehouse Greenhouse project and will learn about the latest developments on the island during their visit to Heligoland.


Heligoland islanders and guests can form their own impression of the new workshop on Thursday between 2 and 7 p.m.  Furthermore the eco-lab with library, the diving centre and Heincke Hall with fishing gear will be open to the public in the southern port area.  The research cutter Uthörn can also be visited.  Members of staff of AWI Heligoland in the main building on the east of the island look forward to exchanging ideas with interested visitors.  For example, in the renovated teaching labs, they will be demonstrating which microscopically small algae and animals swim in their millions in North Sea waters.  There will be a rally with exciting experiments in the Heligoland Aquarium for children.  The subsequent extension of the aquarium as Bluehouse will give people an opportunity to discover their passion for the sea and to become marine researchers themselves for a day.


Notes for Editors: 

You can find images of the inauguration and the open day in this photo gallery.

Your contact persons at the AWI on Heligoland are Professor Dr Karen Wiltshire (phone +49 4725 819-3238; e-mail: Karen.Wiltshire(at) and Heino Peters (phone +49 4725 819-326; e-mail: Heino.Peters(at) Your contact person in the Department of Communications and Media Relations is Dr Folke Mehrtens (phone +49 471 4831-2007; e-mail: Folke.Mehrtens(at)

The Alfred Wegener Institute conducts research in the Arctic and Antarctic and in the high and mid-latitude oceans.  The Institute coordinates German polar research and provides important infrastructure such as the research icebreaker Polarstern and stations in the Arctic and Antarctic to the international scientific world. The Alfred Wegener Institute is one of the 18 research centres of the Helmholtz Association, the largest scientific organisation in Germany.


AWI Pressemeldungen als RSS abonieren

Das Institut

Das Alfred-Wegener-Institut forscht in den Polarregionen und Ozeanen der mittleren und hohen Breiten. Als eines von 19 Forschungszentren der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft koordiniert es Deutschlands Polarforschung und stellt Schiffe wie den Forschungseisbrecher Polarstern und Stationen für die internationale Wissenschaft zur Verfügung.