Magazine
MAGAZIN
A district made of wood
#city planning

A district made of wood

Munich’s Prinz-Eugen-Park is the site of the largest integrated timber settlement in Germany. And that’s not all – the city planners have even more in the pipeline.

Between the rows of houses, a walkway meanders from one top-storey apartment to the next at a height of three metres (10 ft). At one point, the railings open up to make way for a slide that shoots down into the sandpit below. It is a winning blend of functionality and childhood dreams. The WA 15 East owner-occupied apartments in Prinz-Eugen-Park are part of Munich’s ecological model settlement, where city kids get to grow up in timber houses.

Easy on the eye and the environment

The two- and three-storey terraced houses are covered with vertical wooden battens. The ever-changing cubages create an interesting typology that has little in common with the monocultural design of conventional terraced houses. These residential units were designed in a timber hybrid style by agmm Architekten + Stadtplaner together with Hable Architekten.

Curved walkway, WA 15 East, Munich
Here on the WA 15 East site, a curved walkway provides a functional yet attractive access to the upper-storey apartments.

Just under 570 new apartments have been built in the timber settlement, for the most part publicly and privately funded rented flats. These have been assigned to eight individual timber construction projects that vary not only in design but also in height, style and energy standard. Everything is included here, from diverse timber hybrid forms to all-wood construction. The buildings are up to seven storeys high, the bulk of them complying with low-energy standard KfW 55 and in some cases even the Passive House standard.

Timber construction research

The reason for this wide cross-section is that Munich plans to establish itself as a modern timber city and is also using this sustainable pilot project for its own research purposes. With its variety of building types, the model eco settlement is designed to provide best practice examples for future projects.

WA 14 East, ecological model settlement, Munich
The model ecological settlement consists of eight different timber construction projects with some 570 apartments in all.

Ecological assessments were conducted for all model settlement buildings to corroborate the importance of timber construction for climate protection and sustainable urban development.

Ulrike Klar, Head of Munich’s Urban Planning and Building Regulations Department

“Ecological assessments were conducted for all model settlement buildings to corroborate the importance of timber construction for climate protection and sustainable urban development”, explains Ulrike Klar, Head of Munich’s Urban Planning and Building Regulations Department. This involved examining the entire life cycle of the buildings with regard to resource protection and climate protection impact:

“The most important parameters of this assessment include the mass of timber construction materials, the primary energy consumption and the amount of carbon stored by the timber materials. In the model settlement, at least 12,500 tonnes of CO₂ are stored in the long term.”

WA 16 East, ecological model settlement, Prinz-Eugen-Park
The atrium buildings on the WA 16 East site have wooden frame constructions and their own private patios.

Flexibility in wooden frame construction

On the south-east border of the timber construction model settlement, there are 24 single-family houses and two four-storey point-blocks designed by local architecture and urban planning firm Dressler Mayerhofer Rössler. With two or three storeys and pre-greyed timber façades, these single-family houses have their own private patios and come in a variety of floor plans and building shapes. It is yet further proof that top-quality architecture and construction efficiency are perfectly compatible.

Both the four-storey apartment buildings and the terraced houses have wooden frame constructions. This permits maximum flexibility with regard to both the floor plan and the various preferences of future users. As with all buildings in the model settlement, the property developers undertook at the outset to use a large proportion of construction materials from renewable sources.

WA 13, ecological model settlement, Prinz-Eugen-Park
The developers undertook to use a large proportion of renewable materials for the construction.
WA 14 East, ecological model settlement, Prinz-Eugen-Park
Every kilogram of renewable raw materials used was subsidized by the City of Munich.

Subsidies by the kilogram

As an incentive for making the approx. 570 apartments as sustainable as possible, the city introduced its own currency – “Nawaros” (short for “nachwachsende Rohstoffe”, i.e. renewable raw materials) – for calculating the subsidies for each project. Multi-storey buildings received a subsidy of up to two euros per kilogram of “Nawaro”. In some buildings, more than 250 kilograms of timber are used per square metre.

In the model settlement, at least 12,500 tonnes of CO₂ are stored in the long term.

Ulrike Klar, Head of Munich’s Urban Planning and Building Regulations Department

According to the Head of Munich’s Urban Planning and Building Regulations Department, multi-storey timber apartments currently still cost between 5% and 25% more to build than conventional solid construction. Ulrike Klar: “However, this can change once serial construction increases, more apartments are being built, and demand goes up.”

Aerial view, WA 16 East, Prinz-Eugen-Park
The City of Munich is developing four more timber construction projects based on the ecological model settlement.

A worthwhile investment

For residents, this is a wise investment. Apart from the cosy indoor climate, timber buildings use far less energy thanks to their high energy standards. Citing a survey of residents in the Munich model settlements, Ulrike Klar says: “Of course, residents are also eager to support sustainable and resource-friendly construction and, in turn, to make an active contribution towards climate protection.”

WA 15 East, Prinz-Eugen-Park
Residents in timber houses benefit from a cosy indoor climate and low energy costs.

While the City of Berlin is aiming for its WoHo project to be the tallest timber high-rise in Germany, Munich’s ecological model settlement is the largest integrated timber settlement anywhere in the country. Here, the City of Munich is playing a pioneering role which, as Ulrike Klar reveals, is to be further stepped up over the next few years: “Following our experience with and positive feedback from the Prinz-Eugen-Park project, we are now developing four new timber construction projects.” And a new funding programme for multi-storey timber buildings is also in progress.

Text: Gertraud Gerst
Translation: Rosemary Bridger-Lippe
Photos: Ulf Rössler, Stefan Schott / Dressler Mayerhofer Rössler Architekten und Stadtplaner, Michael Nagy / LHM, Bavarian State Capital of Munich

Other articles
that might interest you

The tessellated pavilion
#greenbuilding
The tessellated pavilion

Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and Australian artist Geoff Nees teamed up to design the Botanical Pavilion – a wooden pavilion that is constructed like a 3D puzzle – without using any kind of glue or screws.

The house made by 3D printers
#greenbuilding
The house made by 3D printers

The round construction known as TECLA has created quite a stir. Having teamed up as 3D printing pioneers, WASP and Mario Cucinella Architects have produced the first CO₂-free housing prototype printed entirely from raw earth.

Origami in wood
#greenbuilding
Origami in wood

Japanese architectural firm UENOA has created a wooden office that has no need for bearing walls. Folded origami-style, the ceiling construction gives a whole new lightness to cross-laminated timber.

“Climate change changes everything”
#greenbuilding
“Climate change changes everything”

Sustainability is a top priority for the Powerhouse Company. In an interview, partner Stefan Prins explains why this means more than just a careful choice of materials and energy efficiency, and how essential it is to consider all the changes brought about by climate change when building.

A timber high-rise goes into production
#greenbuilding
A timber high-rise goes into production

The Life Cycle Tower One was the first timber high-rise in Austria and the prototype for a new type of serial construction. CREE founder Hubert Rhomberg explains the green building concept and why we have to learn to think in lifecycles.

Wood on London’s skyline
#greenbuilding
Wood on London’s skyline

Researchers at Cambridge University are helping to turn London’s spectacular vision of a wooden skyscraper into reality. The Oakwood Timber Tower is to rise 300 metres into the sky, almost level with the tallest building in the city.

Timber housing on a modest budget
#greenbuilding
Timber housing on a modest budget

Most people looking for a new home with a sustainable design need to have deep pockets. Rotterdam’s Pendrecht district aims to buck this trend courtesy of timber building Valckensteyn, the brainchild of the architects at Powerhouse Company.

All in the name
#greenbuilding
All in the name

In Düsseldorf, The Cradle is gradually taking shape. The timber hybrid office building is being constructed according to circular economy principles, and these will also govern its future use.

Twin peaks for the Netherlands
#greenbuilding
Twin peaks for the Netherlands

The Dutch city of Eindhoven will soon be home to the world’s highest “plyscraper”. The two towers – 100 and 130 metres high and known as the Dutch Mountains – are to set new standards in high-rise timber construction.

New Kiez on the Block
#city planning
New Kiez on the Block

An entire residential complex in Berlin-Kreuzberg is to be built out of timber – vertically. With a planned height of almost 100 metres, WoHo is set to be Germany’s tallest timber building.

Crowned with timber
#greenbuilding
Crowned with timber

A mixed-use project in Sweden’s Gothenburg is being crowned by star architect Dorte Mandrup. The jewel in this crown is its use of timber. The new eco construction is intended to become an icon in sustainable urban architecture.

Feel-good furniture
#interior
Feel-good furniture

Designed by US architect David Rockwell, built according to WELL Building Standard principles. The Sage Collection by British furniture maker Benchmark is good for humans and the environment.

Plyscraper on Lake Geneva
#city planning
Plyscraper on Lake Geneva

Swiss urban planning combines prominent architecture with ecological timber construction. Lausanne’s Tilia Tower is setting a high standard in future-proof urban development.

Gare Maritime restored in timber splendour
#greenbuilding
Gare Maritime restored in timber splendour

Once Europe’s largest freight station, Brussels’ monumental Gare Maritime is now the largest European CLT project. Neutelings Riedijk Architects have transformed the historic structure into a covered district, giving it a sustainable new lease of life using cross-laminated timber.

Sydney hosts a timber innovation
#greenbuilding
Sydney hosts a timber innovation

The plans just unveiled for the new, 180-metre-high timber tower designed for the Sydney-based software giant Atlassian represent a milestone in environmentally friendly construction using this renewable raw material.

Baptism of fire
#greenbuilding
Baptism of fire

Charred is the new black. An ancient Japanese technique for conserving wood is all the rage in contemporary architecture. As well as looking sophisticated, this building material scores top marks when it comes to sustainability.