Social, sustainable togetherness: Berlin’s Weissensee district

Berlin is advocating timber construction. In March 2019, parliament unanimously decided that wood should be used significantly more often in building construction as part of the Berlin Energy and Climate Protection Programme (BEK). The residential district “WIR” in Berlin-Weissensee impressively shows what this can look like in practice. The residential idea: social, sustainable togetherness.

Life in cities is changing. Architects are faced with the challenge of creating living space that makes life in big cities as pleasant as possible. The architects Deimel Oelschläger have designed an urban district consisting of five four-to-five storey buildings with different sized apartments, communal rooms, a day-care facility, a swimming pool and a café and kiosk. Four cooperatively organised buildings form a large, green courtyard. The fifth building is a house divided into owner-occupied apartments. The aim here is for old and young, families and singles, native Berliners and newcomers to find a home and a strong community.

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In 2019, the KlimaSchutzPartner Berlin (climate protection partner) initiative awarded the design by architects Deimel Oelschläger for “promising innovative planning”. The jury were won over by the positive ecological assessment thanks to the timber construction, excellent U-value, insulation made of recycled material, economic operation due to low heating requirements and reduced CO2 emissions.

The construction idea: saving resources and energy. Uwe Jöst, Head of Sales OSB SWISS KRONO Group, says: “With projects like the district in Berlin-Weissensee, the industry is demonstrating what is possible with timber construction. We need more of these examples so that construction using wood is increasingly considered for multi-storey buildings – especially since both costs and construction time speak in favour of wood as a building material.” All five buildings are hybrid designs: cellar and staircases made of concrete/reinforced concrete, exterior walls with timber panel construction using SWISS KRONO OSB/3 EN300 and solid wood ceilings. The KfW-40 standard is achieved together with cellulose insulation and a ventilation system with heat recovery. For the wall elements, the company Terhalle processed 4,550 m2 of SWISS KRONO OSB/3 EN300. The prefabricated elements considerably shorten the assembly time on site. Even the windows are already built in – a Terhalle speciality. The prefabricated wall elements also reduced the storage space on site.

This was a considerable advantage considering the prevailing lack of space on site. The economic impacts of building with wood are also emphasised by the architects. Standardising house types, support grids and façade elements reduce both construction time and costs.

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