There is further contrast inside the building: the structural system enables different layouts to be configured on each floor. Despite the building’s outwardly uniform appearance, there is diversity inside.
This ambiguity is carried through to the division of the façades. In order to ease the defined structure of the balconies, square windows were positioned in the façade, seemingly at random. Their dimensions and heights do, however, follow the functional requirements. This results in deep windows that allow the people inside to see out even when seated.
Many contrasting design elements were implemented in order to break up the strict look of the basic geometric shape. Clear geometry is important to the building’s appearance from a distance, while from close up we see a detailed, horizontal alignment with the organic structure of the wood grain.
In order to ensure clear orientation, the entrance has been cut into the northern side of the building as a negative form. This allows the building’s cube shape to appear closed. Deliberately mounted on a visible base, the main body of the building is on a level surface. The surfaces of the outdoor facilities are completely flat in order to display the cube from all sides to the same extent.
This is emphasised by the way in which their undersides are clad in the same material as the façade. Inside the building, at the very centre, is the concrete lift and staircase core. This forms a clear contrast with the timber outer shell and the interior spaces within the apartments.
As part of the IBA Hamburg, the “WOODCUBE” was intended take on a clear structural form and act as a prototype. This gave rise to the distinct cube shape, which ensured a high recall value. The building’s cubature is enhanced by irregularly spaced, freely overhanging balconies. These are designed in such a way as to give the impression that they swing out of the basic shape.
Possibility of Conversion
Due to the large floor spans, almost every type of room layout can be achieved within the building. Every floor features different types of apartments. As there are no load-bearing walls, room structures can be changed at any time. Some of the apartments are also set up in such a way that, if required, they can be made completely accessible without major alteration work.
Above the basement, which is a waterproof concrete tank, almost all of the load-bearing construction components are made of timber elements, with the exception of the staircase core. The basement contains space for storing bicycles and technical and supply rooms, along with a laundry room and storage spaces for the apartments.
Large windows that run the width of the balcony and smaller square, or rectangular windows that seem to be arranged without reference to one another, break up the façade. The vertical openings for the building services installations are in ducts on the eastern and western outer walls. The bathrooms and kitchens are arranged around these ducts. Overall, the cubic form of the building makes it very compact.
The apartments on the west side of the second and third floors were joined together vertically to form a maisonette. The fourth floor, however, is designed as a closed unit. Each apartment has at least one balcony on a corner of the building and oriented east, south, or west. The roof, which is covered with a photovoltaic unit, is not accessible.
The outer wall of the entrance side is indented by half an axis, so that on this side the entrance to the central opening is located inside the cube itself.
The building is accessed from the north. From the ground to the third floor, there are two apartments on each level.
The building has a basement floor with a pillar foundation, topped by five full storeys on a square layout, with an edge length of 15.10 metres. The cube is divided into three horizontal axes, whereby the dimensions of the centrally oriented staircase with its lift shaft define the dimensions of the respective central axes. The staircase core is also square.
Due to its carbon balance in construction and operation, the “WOODCUBE” demonstrates the potential, within the climate-neutral building sector, of solid wood construction and energy supply using renewable forms of energy.
A sophisticated building services concept with central building control and smart metering supports the consistently low energy consumption.
Compared with conventional buildings, approximately 8,500 tonnes of carbon were saved during the construction phase alone.
The “WOODCUBE” project is the first time that a apartment complex has been built that does not emit any greenhouse gases over its life cycle, and is almost completely biologically recyclable. All of the construction materials were therefore checked for their carbon potential and biological compatibility in building.
The “WOODCUBE” is a five-storey apartment building with a flexible number of apartments. The design demonstrates the possibilities of forward-looking solid timber construction: the Efficiency House 40 largely avoids the use of non-renewable raw materials in both its construction and its operation. Energy and heat energy are carbon neutral and derived from renewable sources.
• The floor plan typology allows for different types of occupation, adapted to urban living requirements.
• The use of renewable building materials results in a structure that is carbon neutral in terms of its construction and operation.
• Multistory solid timber construction.
After this short introduction the “WOODCUBE Smart Material House” will be presented in brief, and then explained in detail. The architectural and building services concept will then be described, followed by the planning process. Finally, the model project will be assessed. The focus throughout is on the “WOODCUBE’s” energy concept, the flexible roof, and the wooden construction.
Only when the planning process is examined is it possible to ascertain whether a model building project can serve as a good example for the use of smart materials in the twenty-first century. In addition to setting out technical details for experts, this booklet is intended to provide an objective assessment of whether the “WOODCUBE” model project fulfils this aim, and whether and to what extent it has ultimately succeeded in achieving the goals set out before the planning stage.
The reasons behind these changes were technical, financial, or functional, meaning that some original targets had to be adjusted.
Model projects are particularly liable to undergo planning changes; indeed, besides presenting innovative end products, building exhibitions also seek to test out construction methods and processes.
• There is an emphasis on the “aesthetics of phenomena”, which mainly focuses on the behaviour of materials. It is not important how the material presents itself, but when it makes its appearance.
The architectural and building services concepts behind the “WOODCUBE” are set out in detail in this White Paper. The planning process is also outlined clearly, as a large number of alterations were made between the design stage and the final execution of the project.
Along with the increasing importance of time processes, an “open layout” can be changed into a “reconfigurable layout”. Reconfigurable layouts are generated from the mutability of the space, the transformability of the materials, and the adaptability of the technologies, no longer solely through their (static) openness to different uses.
• The new technologies make it possible to multiply building services and distribute them to various surfaces. Materials become dynamic infrastructures that can produce variable, partly contradictory effects.
• With the extension of multifunctional surfaces, the time factor becomes an integral part of the design and simultaneously makes it possible to use space and buildings in hybrid ways.
• Since the beginning of the modern period, building services have been bundled away, centralised, and thus often rendered invisible. With the proliferation of smart materials, the material surface can itself become a medium carrying energy and information.
Accordingly, it performs additional functions, such as being a “power plant”, providing “energy storage”, or comprising a “communications point” in the urban context.
• The building envelope is the central element of the energy exchange between inside and outside. It controls inflowing and outflowing energy streams and the circulation of material. Using smart materials and smart technologies, building envelopes can actively regulate energy and material flows.
Holz100 Canada Inc.