Design at Fraunhofer IVI

When acquiring, developing and marketing new technologies, the aspect of design is gaining importance – also in the field of research. For several years, the Fraunhofer IVI has been integrating industrial designers and communication designers in their research activities in order to put more emphasis on aesthetic aspects. Owing to the positive experience from this development, the institute strongly supports the activities of the Fraunhofer Network »Science, Art and Design« which was founded in 2018. Through their close cooperation, the network benefits from the long-standing experience of two renowned design institutions: the Chair of Industrial Design Engineering at TU Dresden and Coburg University of Applied Sciences and Arts.

Examples from the areas product design, vehicle design, interior & exterior design as well as interface & interaction design are presented in the brochure »Designed by Fraunhofer«. It was edited under the management of the Fraunhofer IVI and published in 2020. The book »Architecture by Fraunhofer« (in German), published in 2021, provides insights into the architecture of Fraunhofer's institute and administration buildings, technical centers and research factories. The publication »Art and Science by Fraunhofer« (in German) from 2022 concludes the series as the third volume and provides an insight into the efforts to create a creative space and, as it were, a stage for the exchange between science and art in the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

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»Designed by Fraunhofer«

A book with best-practice examples of how design aspects are integrated into research and development at Fraunhofer.


»Architecture by Fraunhofer«

The book investigates how life and work at Fraunhofer are shaped by the architecture of research buildings.



»Art and Science by Fraunhofer«

With numerous examples from various art forms, this book shows how the seemingly contradictory aspects of science and art are mutually conditional and offer the opportunity to view scientific content from a new perspective.



Fraunhofer and TU Dresden launch joint DesignLab in Dresden

In its various disciplines and manifestations, design is increasingly gaining importance in Fraunhofer's research. Supporting this trend, the three Fraunhofer Institutes IVI, IWS and IWU in Dresden, together with Technische Universität Dresden, are establishing the »DesignLab for Applied Research«. 


First Design Conference of the Fraunhofer Network »Science, Art and Design«

With »Design in Focus Fraunhofer Research«, the Fraunhofer Network »Science, Art and Design« offered employees of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, partners from the national university landscape, artists and interested parties for the first time a conference and exhibition format for the exchange of internal design projects with external design practice and design research.

Activities at Fraunhofer IVI

Electrified micromobility for cities

SteigtUm project to test new forms of mobility in the city of Freiberg, Saxony

© joserpizarro –, Fraunhofer IVI

The desire for individuality in urban traffic often leads to high emission levels and tense parking situations. To counteract these effects, the SteigtUM project, funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), aims to develop a mobility system with flexible and safe small electric vehicles that are suitable for everyday use. The renting and charging infrastructure with automated rental and return features, and a universal user interface will be part of the system. Currently, the first components have entered the prototype manufacturing stage, among them a cargo bike and the so-called CityBox, a combined bicycle shed and charging station.

Next to the system’s functionality, its acceptance and userfriendliness are key aspects of the project. For this reason, Fraunhofer IVI focused their work, among other topics, on integrated product design as a way of shaping a market-relevant use-case that raises user acceptance. The designs take into account both user-centered demands and ergonomic requirements. 

Design: Konrad Löschner, Ernst-Eckart Schulze

Project partners: TU Bergakademie Freiberg; apromace data systems GmbH; Projektionisten GmbH; TU Carolo-Wilhelmina zu Braunschweig; TU Chemnitz

Tiny house for civil protection

modular housing

© olyasolodenko –

On behalf of the German Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK), the »Tiny-Haus Zivilschutz« pilot study (»Tiny House for Civil Protection«) analyzed the conditions under which mobile, self-sustaining housing units are suitable for civil protection cases in central Europe. The investigations included a broad spectrum of solutions ranging from steel scaffolding tents, which are lightweight and easy-to-store but susceptible to bad weather conditions, to robust container solutions, which can be prefabricated but are rather bulky. As a next step, solution proposals for mobile and modular microaccommodation units were derived from the findings.

The supply technologies (heat, power and water) were dimensioned and balanced with a view to the ideal of selfsustainability. In this context, given economical constraints did not only have an influence on the mobile micro-houses’ level of equipment, but also on their level of self-sustainability.

Design: Ernst-Eckart Schulze, Harald Gross

Ultralightweight Vehicle Interior for Segmented Trams

»Lightweight Seating System«

© Bombardier Transportation

The Fraunhofer IVI developed a concept for the optimization of tram seat structures under the aspects of lightweight construction, construction effort and costs. The design process produced five seating concepts with different manufacturing variants. Taking into consideration the requirements product and function, safety and stability, ergonomics, comfort and aesthetics as well as economic efficiency, a design was chosen that features a seat plate with aluminum profiles on the side.

The seating concept gained acceptance with its flat appearance and the considerable savings potential of mass per individual seat.

Design: Ernst-Eckart Schulze; büro+staubach GmbH

Project partners: Bombardier Transportation; Fraunhofer IWU 

Libraries in Transition

© Fraunhofer IVI
Fraunhofer IVI and IIS/EAS institute library in Dresden

Libraries are no longer just places for storing books and journals. They have become knowledge meeting points and places facilitating exchange. These developments helped create the idea to rejuvenate the Fraunhofer IVI and IIS/EAS institute library, which had gradually grown over time. 

Today, the institute library is no longer a silent room full of bookshelves. It has, in fact, become a place with a liberal and open design that invites to do research, linger, collaborate and inspire one another. Offering guests and employees a comfortable space for studying and communicating, the library is now a creative area for new ideas and inspiring conversations.

Design: Elke Sähn; Architect Michaela Hoppe, Dresden


autartec® – Self-Sufficient Living on Water

© Fraunhofer IVI
autartec® house on the lake Bergheide

In the autartec® research project, partners from southern Brandenburg and Eastern Saxony have been jointly designing, developing and implementing technologies for autarkic buildings and floating architecture. Conventional methods for solar energy and heat production, decentralized storing, microfiltration and water decontamination have been developed throughout the project to make them fit for integration into the building envelope.  

With its futuristic look, renewable energy supply and integrated environmental technologies, the building marks the emergence of a new era. Located at the lake Bergheide in the Lusatia region, the concept contributes to the future-oriented redesign of this former mining region.

Design: Fraunhofer IVI; AIB GmbH; Wilde Metallbau GmbH

Project partners: AIB GmbH; AWAS GmbH Dresden; bendl HTS GmbH & Co. KG Sebnitz; Beratungsgesellschaft für Wirtschaftliches Bauen (BWB); TU Cottbus-Senftenberg; Fraunhofer IKTS; GEDES e. V.; Heliatek GmbH; ifn Anwenderzentrum GmbH; INNIUS DÖ GmbH; Rupp Betonerzeugnisse GmbH; TU Dresden; TUDAG – Deutsches Zentrum Textilbeton; Wilde Metallbau GmbH

AutoTram® – Testing Platform for the Development of Intermediary Vehicle Technologies

© Fraunhofer IVI
AutoTram® hightech demonstrator

The intermediary transport system combines the benefits of buses with the advantages of trams like high transport capacity, driving comfort and environmental-friendly propulsion systems. In its first version, the vehicle was developed as a universal testing platform in 2005. Since then, it has been used as a basis for numerous developments at the Fraunhofer IVI. The complexity of the integrated components and the modular design open up numerous fields of application in public transport. 

The central aspect of the AutoTram® design was its modular structure. The vehicle can be operated in bidirectional mode and can be decoupled as required to form individual vehicles of identical design. In its basic design, the AutoTram® corresponds to a serial hybrid vehicle – an important intermediate step on the way to fully-electric driving. A high-precision multi-axle steering system has been developed to ensure lane stability of the BusTram. This system is used in numerous commercial vehicle technology projects. 

Design: Sergio Stanisci (CWA Constructions SA/Corp); Fraunhofer IVI 

Project partners: CWA Constructions SA/Corp.; Derap AG; Frey AG Stans