Wanted: lateral thinkers
Creative spaces for innovative minds at Bosch Renningen
With Platform 12 at the campus for research and advance engineering in Renningen, Bosch has created a space where researchers and artists can inspire each other. The aim is to break up conventional structures and promote creativity.
Space for ideas
A rubber duck on the workbench, furniture from the 1930s, and groups of people having an animated discussion at boards with colorful post-it notes: from the moment one sets their eyes on it, it is clear that the 12th floor at the Bosch research center in Renningen is not the usual workspace. Named Platform 12, the room serves as a creative space that associates can use beyond conventional organizational structures to give their ideas free reign.
The room’s set-up was deliberately designed to offer a contrast to offices and labs. Artistic elements aim to change everyday perceptions and encourage reflection. Platform 12 promotes knowledge-sharing and the development of new ideas across disciplines, with the ultimate aim of creating innovative solutions.
A creative team
In cooperation with Bosch, the artists Maren Geers und Thomas Drescher designed and furnished Platform 12. The concept is special because of the continuous presence of artists in residence, who receive three-month scholarships in cooperation with the Schloss Solitude Academy in Stuttgart. The artists serve as inspiration for Bosch researchers, and work on their own as well as joint projects. In contrast to conventional artist in residence programs, the artists are not expected to develop pieces related to the company’s specific research. Instead, the program promotes the freedom to exchange ideas and engage in dialog with the researchers.
“Platform 12 is a retreat for associates: it is a place where they feel comfortable, talk to each other, and develop ideas with the artists.”
Where different worlds collide
It didn’t take long for Isabel Zintl to realize she wanted to be a part of the Platform 12 experimental space. “I found the call for an artist in residence very exciting because the project offers so much potential to create something new,” says the 31-year-old architect. “Normally, I spend the entire day in a studio, working on models or at the computer, or I am teaching. In contrast, the platform is like a theater stage on which I am a spectator and an actor at the same time.”
For Klaus Meyer, Senior Expert for Tribology and Future Innovation, the first visit to Platform 12 was also a special experience.
“Everyone there was on a different path, had a different background, and different perspectives,“ says the 59-year-old. “At first we had to think about how we should best communicate with one another. This was a very constructive process because it made me think.“
Can the dialog between researchers and artists also be a challenge? Isabel Zintl saw discussing her ideas with Bosch associates as an opportunity to learn. “As an architect, having to explain my ideas to laypeople in simple terms was very revealing for me, and it also helped me learn more about my own work.”
Urban oasis with a 3D printer
Together, Isabel Zintl and Klaus Meyer thought about how the cities of the future could be designed in a more sustainable manner that includes new forms of public space. In densely populated neighborhoods, the space for green oases is increasingly scarce. One possible solution is to make better use of vertical space, for instance by building small oases on scaffoldings in city centers.
The topics of vegetation and irrigation play an important role in this regard. “At Bosch, we set up innovation teams as early as 2014, which are studying ways to improve air and water quality in urban areas,” says Klaus Meyer. “For me, it was immediately clear that they need to work on Platform 12 to gain a new perspective on the trends of the future and develop innovative Bosch solutions.” In a conversation with Isabel Zintl, for example, the idea of using 3D printers to build green infrastructure was born. This would protect natural resources, improve the urban environment, and have a positive impact on the microclimate.
One project – Many ideas
Fifteen scholarship recipients from different artistic disciplines have taken part in the Platform 12 artist-in-residence program since 2015. On the topic of water treatment alone, Klaus Meyer’s team has developed more than 60 innovative ideas there. “Not every idea ends up becoming an innovative solution,” days Lisa Przioda. “The first step is to get the thought process going. Wanting to measure everything immediately would be counterproductive.”
The team members keep pursuing promising ideas in their specialist departments. When it comes to implementation, they rely on mature methods and technologies. Bosch associates in Renningen have embraced the creative space. “At first, a lot of people may have thought ‘What is going on here?’ when they first saw Platform 12. But now the platform is something the teams not only use themselves, they are also proud to show it to their colleagues and visitors.
On Platform 12 on the Bosch research campus in Renningen, associates cooperate with artists in residence to develop new ideas. The unique work atmosphere promotes creative solutions that the specialist departments can then pursue further.