What is Prototype Nature?

The „Prototype Nature“ symposium was initiated by the Fraunhofer UMSICHT Oberhausen and the Folkwang University of the Arts Essen, in order to learn from the enormous diversity of nature and to ascertain how this knowledge can help meet the challenges of the today’s world. How should our coexistence look like? What roles can nature take to act as a model in this process?

There exist various disciplines in science that deal with the use of nature while taking different perspectives. It is the intention of „Prototype Nature“ that different approaches of using nature be brought together to encounter, complement, and come into conflict with each other. The characteristic feature is that all research fields dealing with the utilisation of nature pursue interdisciplinary approaches.

From biologists, geologists, mathematicians, physicists via sociologists, historians, philosophers through to engineers and designers – all are involved in different approaches to utilisation of nature.  „Prototype Nature“ aims to encourage the discourse of a wide range of disciplines,  taking into account diverse motives, goals and insights. What knowledge exists to use nature based on fundamental scientific research
and on the analytical observation of social sciences and humanities? Who uses this knowledge and how can it be integrated into our coexistence and used either today or in the future?


Presentations and panel discussions are planned with scientists and stakeholders from a wide variety of backgrounds.“Prototype Nature“ will be accompanied by a curated exhibition and a publication on the subject.
By this means, it is intended to provide an insight into research areas on nature as a model not only to an expert audience, doctoral candidates and students but also to a wide-ranging public. Both the symposium and the exhibition are planned to be held in the SANAA Building at the Zeche Zollverein site. The initiators of „Prototype Nature“ are the Fraunhofer UMSICHT, Oberhausen and the Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen.

In 2012, „Prototype Nature“ was held under the title „The role of bionics for a more sustainable future“.
That symposium addressed the issue of how bionics can contribute to the technical, social and organisational transformations necessary for a more sustainable future. Prestigious speakers from leading scientific institutions all over Germany gave specialist lectures on the subject. We now intend to extend the format of „Prototype Nature“ to other sciences and stakeholders, for them to address not only bionics but also nature as a model. In the future, „Prototype Nature“ is intended to become a regular format and to take place at three-year intervals.

Natalie & Pia Bionic 28823