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EMBL Imaging Centre

Open access to cutting-edge electron and light microscopy

We provide researchers from Europe and beyond with a synergistic portfolio of imaging services including cryo-EM, super-resolution and intravital microscopy to enable new ground-breaking research that crosses the scales of biology.

Highlighting the EMBL Imaging Centre

Credits: Massimo Del Prete / EMBL
The IBA-Stele in front of the EMBL Imaging Centre is one of 23 signposts that mark IBA projects throughout Heidelberg and celebrate the knowledge-based urbanism. Credits: Massimo Del Prete / EMBL.

The new sign in front of the EMBL Imaging Centre is an eye-catcher in brightest daffodil-yellow. Produced by Heidelberg’s International Building Exhibition (IBA) it marks the EMBL IC as important project in the City’s knowledge-based urbanism and invites to sit down, take a break and get to know more about IBA and the creation of the EMBL IC.


Authored by: Verena Viarisio, EMBL Communications


IBA Heidelberg: an urban development tool

In 2012 the International Building Exhibition (German: Internationale Bauausstellung, IBA) started its ten year assignment to support Heidelberg’s urban development. IBA initiated, consulted on and implemented architectural and urban projects in Heidelberg and its surroundings to support the city’s continuing development towards an open, well-connected, resourceful and participative knowledge city of tomorrow.

The EMBL Imaging Centre is one of 23 projects chosen by IBA as important landmarks in this endeavour. Now, as the IBA’s term comes to an end, it invites Heidelberg’s citizens to join their final presentation from 29 April to 10 July 2022. The temporal exhibition “Wissen|schafft|Stadt” presents each of the projects in an installation, provides visitors with a birds-eye view of their locations across Heidelberg through a centrepiece model, invites them to listen to the projects’ leaders, and takes them on a tour through Heidelberg.  Complementing the core exhibition and the many events hosted by the IBA project partners, the bright yellow steles mark the projects and the exhibition throughout the city.

EMBL Imaging Centre: beauty x functionality x openness

The Head of IBA, Prof. Michael Braum, advised on and supervised EMBL’s steering committee in the architectural competition for the EMBL IC. It led to the nomination of Gerstner and Hofmeister architects, who set out to construct the EMBL Imaging Centre at the end of 2018 to make it a one-of-a-kind building. The EMBL IC’s unique structure serves several purposes, and brings different user groups together to complement one another. The building is conceptualized as a friendly and open space that hosts the most sensitive imaging technologies, provides room for scientific exchange and training, and invites the public to participate in EMBL’s research. At the heart of the EMBL IC lies the two-floor-spanning Cryo Hall that shields the sensitive cryo-electron microscopes from environmental disturbances. The hall sits on a solid concrete slab of 900 m2, more than a meter thick and supported by 25 columns reaching up to 4 m deep into the ground. This design, combined with the highest-level climate control technologies guarantees optimal conditions for imaging in highest resolution and accuracy. Complemented by sample preparation laboratories, open office working spaces, and a lecture hall, and operated by a team of enthusiastic experts, the EMBL IC is a one-stop-shop for all imaging needs. Additionally, a permanent exhibition covering 800m2 within the building opens up EMBL Heidelberg Campus to the public. From late 2022 onwards, ‘The World of Molecular Biology’ will invite Heidelberg’s public and international school groups to be curious about and dive into EMBL’s research from tiny to big, from genes to ecosystems.

EMBL IC/IBA event in June

“The IBA supported us from the very beginning in our undertaking to create a building that not only serves its primary purpose, hosting the latest cutting-edge imaging technologies and making them available to scientists from all around the world, but also to be appealing and inviting to visitors from the public and the city of Heidelberg,” says Dr. Jan Ellenberg, Head of EMBL Imaging Centre and Head of the Cell Biology and Biophysics Unit. “Everyone standing in front of the building should feel curious to look inside and feel invited to enter!”

The stele in front of EMBL Imaging Centre supports this message and marks a space for visitors and for EMBLers alike, inviting them to engage with concepts that are shaping the City and its citizens and vice versa.

On 1 June, EMBL and Gerstner and Hofmeister architects offer tours to the Heidelberg public, which can be booked via the IBA homepage.


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