Natural, renewable, resource-saving: construction with wood is booming. In open spaces in the countryside or on the outskirts of cities, project developers are increasingly turning to environmentally friendly building material. In the urban context, however, wooden construction is only in its infancy. However, wooden buildings are getting taller and taller all over the world. Oona Horx-Strathern, trend and futurologist and renowned life expert at the Zukunftsinstitut in Vienna, calls this development the “age of timber” and writes in her most recent Home Report 2022: “During the timber boom, forests ( …) are increasingly migrating to our urban environments. In addition to the environmental aspect, the rather soft aspect of the material, in contrast to steel and concrete, is important for the popularity of wood in urban landscapes. in wood can loosen the urban landscape and bring nature into architecture “. With the VINZENT project in Munich, the developer of the Bauwerk project is one of the first in Germany to introduce hybrid wood construction in an internal city structure, thus actively contributing to environmental protection. “We have always managed our company on the basis of sustainable principles and we take responsibility for social and ecological developments. In Europe, residential and commercial buildings are responsible for around 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions. We want to make our contribution to reducing these numbers “, says Jürgen Schorn, Managing Partner of Bauwerk. With VINZENT, the first hybrid wooden assembly for living and working in central Munich, the company wants to prove that wooden constructions do not work. only on green areas, but also in densely built-up urban centers, thus becoming a pioneer for similar project developments.
Wooden construction in the spirit of neo-ecology
Already thousands of years ago, wood played an important role in European construction. Whole cities were partly built with the building material. In the course of industrialization, however, it fell into oblivion from the mid-19th century. Machine-made building materials such as brick or concrete were increasingly preferred because they could be produced cheaper, faster and in large quantities. They were also less susceptible to fire.
The fact that wood is making a comeback in metropolises as a trendy building material is driven by the megatrend of neo-ecology – the process of social change towards sustainable and resource-efficient management. Because wood is a renewable raw material that has a lasting positive effect on the climate balance. On the one hand, because during its production no energy has to be supplied and therefore no CO2 is produced. On the other hand, because wood not only binds carbon as a growing tree and therefore has a climate-relieving effect, but also when it is felled, for a period of between 40 and 100 years.
In the VINZENT project in Munich, for example, a total of around 800 cubic meters of spruce wood from Germany and Europe are used, and thus around 800 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere are permanently linked. For this amount of CO2 saved alone, a mid-range car could circle the earth 80 times or a person could fly from Munich to Mallorca 1,176 times. Furthermore, the wood used can be recycled according to the cradle to cradle principle following the demolition of the two residential buildings and the new office building.
In addition to social development, there is another important reason why building with wood is booming: the progress of digitization. The technical innovations make it possible to optimally test the load-bearing capacity and resistance of the wood to fire behavior. In addition, wooden facades can be protected in the long term from environmental influences by using new and sophisticated materials. “CNC technology and other digital revolutions are also quantum leaps. Because with them, wood can now be processed and pre-produced with millimeter precision. This takes place directly in a workshop, where the components can be dry prefabricated and in some cases already assembled “, explains Ludwig Wappner, whose Munich office allmannwappner (formerly Allmann Sattler Wappner Architekten) is responsible for the architectural concept of VINZENT.
Faster construction process, quieter construction site
According to Alexander Sälzle, project manager at Bauwerk, the high degree of prefabrication made possible by timber construction has two major advantages over conventional construction methods. On the one hand, it contributes to a faster construction process. The construction time for the VINZENT project is reduced from three to five months compared to conventional construction. On the other hand, fewer transport trips are required for building materials, as prefabricated modules are used for buildings. As a result, less space is required at the Munich-Neuhausen construction site and noise pollution for neighbors is significantly reduced. Alexander Sälzle: “Building with wood is much more complex and expensive than conventional building methods, and not just because of the current scarcity. However, project developers are worth rethinking because the environmental, social and construction benefits outweigh the negative ones and investors are increasingly turning to sustainable residential and commercial areas. ”