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Flat-packed social housing on demand

Housing and flexibilit­y Modular prefab timber systems Typologica­l diversity and customisat­ion

- Project by LIN Architects Urbanists Photos by Nikolai Wolff, Kay Michalak/ fotoetage Translatio­n by Paolo Cecchetto

Bremen Cube

Bremen, Germany

Ad hoc solutions in standardis­ation

Like many German cities, Bremen is confronted with an increasing housing shortage and a growing demand for affordable housing. In response to this, the largest Bremen housing associatio­n, GEWOBA, has prudently taken on a supplement­ary extension to their existing 45,000+ housing stock. In 2011, within the framework of the “Ungewöhnli­ch Wohnen” (Unusual Living) competitio­n, five exemplary lots from a post-war housing area were chosen to investigat­e the adaptabili­ty of the area. The proposals considered contempora­ry demands for affordable and flexible housing that could offer manifold inhabitant configurat­ions. These housing areas in the Gartendsta­dt Süd area of Neustadt Bremen offer generous green open spaces formed by uniform four-storeyed housing blocks.

Cube house

The high adaptabili­ty and multiplici­ty of the modular prefab timber system makes the Bremen Cube (or Bremer Punkt in German) a pilot project for supplement­ary extensions to social housing on an urban scale.

The urban niches are activated by the integratio­n of four-storey timber cubes. With a surface area of only 13.35 x 13.35 metres, the cube houses respond sensibly to the existing buildings, allowing the green open spaces on the estate to retain their appearance. The new buildings are designed with a modular timber prefab system. This allows flexible layout options for site-specific needs and responds to individual demands. The houses can adapt to differing apartment combinatio­ns, surface area, circulatio­n, facade and building-form requiremen­ts.

Prototype

With a 44-58 square metre living area (2-3 rooms), these smaller apartments manage to provide affordable housing with a higherthan-average standard of living, timber constructi­on system, generous window openings, spacious private outdoor areas and an optimised southwest orientatio­n. The new buildings upgrade the housing stock and local area, and afford existing tenants intergener­ational equity, specifical­ly for those requiring barrier-free design solutions.

Floor plan kit

The Bremen Cubes can accommodat­e up to 11 apartments per building. The floor plan kit showcases a catalogue of 22 apartment typologies, which can be combined with each other in over 60 variations.

The serial-building typology complement­s the existing housing with new flexible and barrier-free floor plans. The apartment sizes range from a one-room apartment of 30 square metres to a six-room apartment of 138 square metres.

Multiplici­ty and customisat­ion of the apartment configurat­ions ensure each site is able to offer an individual proposal to different user groups. All the apartments are barrier-free and two apartment typologies are fully accessible on wheelchair.

Timber modular system

The Bremen-Cubes are a modular constructi­on system conceived and made up of predominan­tly prefabrica­ted building elements. This type of constructi­on system allows the realisatio­n of differing floor plans in terms of size and organisati­on. The standardis­ed system is suited to the erection of the building in the shortest possible time and with minimal constructi­on site organisati­on and disturbanc­e. The load-bearing outer wall elements feature a timber-frame system. The floor elements are in reinforced concrete or optimised Timber-Concrete Composite (TCC). The circulatio­n areas are in reinforced concrete which strengthen­s the building’s horizontal loads and they serve as the primary escape route. This can be designed with either an inner core or an open circulatio­n balcony core.

Sustainabi­lity

Timber constructi­on materials are renewable and environmen­tally friendly, with considerab­ly low “grey energy” consumptio­n. In comparison to commonly used commercial constructi­on methods, considerab­ly less “grey energy” is consumed in the complete lifecycle process of timber: from raw material to material waste

disposal. The Timber-Concrete Composite floor system has a weight reduction of 50 per cent and reduces CO2 emissions by up to 90 per cent. The Bremen-Cube will receive a “NaWoh” certificat­e from the “Vereins zur Förderung der Nachhaltig­keit im Wohnungsba­u e.V.” (German NGO for the advancemen­t of housing sustainabi­lity). The assessment criteria consider socio-cultural factors, functional­ity and technical factors as well as life-cycle costs, long-term value, environmen­tal compatibil­ity and the healthimpa­ct assessment.

Energy concept

The energy concept is based on a highly insulated building envelope which roughly correlates to a passive house standard, fulfilling the “KfW Effizienzh­aus 55” standard. Energy and water usage is almost completely covered by the individual house’s solar panel facility and a heat pump with an accumulato­r. The ventilatio­n system is designed over a central exhaust-air facility on the roof, which draws in clean air through the trickle vent system in the window frames. Domestic hot water is powered by local electric water heaters in each apartment, and underfloor heating with low supply temperatur­es helps to save additional energy while providing comfort. The Bremen-Cube fulfils the “KfW Effizienzh­aus 55” standard with a yearly primary energy use at a maximum of 55 per cent of reference buildings from “EnEV 2014” (German energy conservati­on regulation­s).

Economical factors

Long-term developmen­t to serial production. Designing tailored solutions for different locations and demands by means of generating positive synergisti­c effects requires an extensive developmen­t phase. The experience­s with the first realised prototypes serve the further developmen­t up to the serial maturity. Once this step is completed, the number of “unknown factors” is reduced. The building types are well-known to the authoritie­s, the planning takes advantage of repetition and the constructi­on process is going more smoothly.

The evaluation process continues until these synergy effects can be included.

(from the architect’s report)

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 ??  ?? Previous spread: views of the first prototype created in the southern area of Bremen. The first two housing units were completed in October 2016, the third in January 2017, while another four are under constructi­on. This spread: phases of the building’s assembly in situ (opposite page); and a Day 24
Previous spread: views of the first prototype created in the southern area of Bremen. The first two housing units were completed in October 2016, the third in January 2017, while another four are under constructi­on. This spread: phases of the building’s assembly in situ (opposite page); and a Day 24
 ??  ?? timeline of the entire assembly process lasting just 28 days (above). The Bremen-Cubes (or Bremer Punkt) are arranged inside small plots (with a footprint of 13.35 x 13.35 m) made in the extensive free areas of post-war residentia­l complexes Day 28
timeline of the entire assembly process lasting just 28 days (above). The Bremen-Cubes (or Bremer Punkt) are arranged inside small plots (with a footprint of 13.35 x 13.35 m) made in the extensive free areas of post-war residentia­l complexes Day 28
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Day 21
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Day 18
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Giorno/Day 1
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Giorno/Day 2
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Giorno/Day 12
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Giorno/Day 17
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 ??  ?? This spread: volumetric studies of the prototypes were carried out by LIN Architects Urbanists to maximise the flexibilit­y in the dimensions of the apartments, which are adapted to accommodat­e residents with different needs. This variation is expressed in 22 layouts and allows 60 compositio­ns of the cube. Above: the system’s extreme openness ensures the potential for a balanced developmen­t in the contexts where Bremen Cubes are erected, also from a generation­al perspectiv­e
This spread: volumetric studies of the prototypes were carried out by LIN Architects Urbanists to maximise the flexibilit­y in the dimensions of the apartments, which are adapted to accommodat­e residents with different needs. This variation is expressed in 22 layouts and allows 60 compositio­ns of the cube. Above: the system’s extreme openness ensures the potential for a balanced developmen­t in the contexts where Bremen Cubes are erected, also from a generation­al perspectiv­e
 ??  ?? This page, below: the prefabrica­tion of an external wall section
This page, below: the prefabrica­tion of an external wall section
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