Photo © Benjamin Anthony Monn
Photo © Benjamin Anthony Monn
Photo © Benjamin Anthony Monn
Photo © Benjamin Anthony Monn

Living naturally

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Living naturally
A wooden building in the heart of the metropolis

Innovations are not always to be found where they might be expected – in the media, at trade fairs, or in the heads of visionary thinkers. Sometimes they are already in our midst, in our daily lives. More precisely: in Rheinstrasse, in Munich’s popular quarter Schwabing. Here, in the inner courtyard of house number 14, a piece of the future has been created in only eight months of building – the residence of tomorrow. The first urban passive wooden house in Germany – an innovation with emotion. This project of the GBW Group brings wood as a building material back into the city – one of the oldest building materials has been used once again to spectacular effect in a German metropolis.

Entering the inner courtyard, one is dominated by one feeling in particular: one has finally arrived. Wood as a building material is not only extremely versatile, flexible and robust: it has accompanied mankind from the dawn of time. Wood creates an intense feeling of wellbeing, an often neglected emotional connection in urban planning. Humans want to live, not just to reside.
The warmth that the object with its ten units radiates is ubiquitous. Floor-to-ceiling windows, two roof terraces and untreated softwood harmonise with the inner courtyard as if the building had been here forever. A striking factor: the living rooms all face south and most have windows around a corner. This means that the rooms are flooded with daylight, and passive heat production is guaranteed in winter.

The advantages of wood as a building material are particularly obvious when compared with the classical solid masonry construction method. Local woods have short delivery distances, are natural insulators, and are easy to replace and recycle when necessary. “Whereas metal or cement have only one property, wood has both tensile and compressive strength – an unbeatable advantage,” says the architect Michael Ziller from the architectural office zillerplus.

The wooden elements are preassembled in factories by skilled carpenters and fitted exactly with doors and windows and electrical supply lines. The parts are delivered and assembled on the construction site, and no painting is required. There is no bricklaying or cement-mixing, and no building materials that first have to be produced in a complicated mixing of materials to fulfil their aim and then separated from each other with great effort. Another massive saving is in heat energy. For all other building materials, a lot of heat is required to produce them – steel has to be melted, bricks have to be fired. Wood needs none of this energy expenditure, and building time is considerably reduced. Neighbours are far less disturbed by building activities, and the high degree of fitting precision guarantees smooth construction.

The basic substance, including for the supporting walls, is spruce, and the cladding is fir from Bavarian and Tyrolean forests. This traditional wood can be seen clearly on the ceilings of the interiors. From here, it spreads its soothing effects to all other rooms.

A total of 360 cubic meters of wood were used in the inner courtyard in Rheinstrasse. Up to the day they were felled, these trees consumed 264 tonnes of CO² in the atmosphere, so it is not only an emotional but also an ecological project.

GBW Management GmbH

Gross floor space: 1,230 m², 10 units

Architectural service
Phases 1-5, partly 6, 8

Preis für Baukultur der Metropolregion München 2016, recognition
Nomination, BDA Prize, Bavaria 2016
GEPLANT + AUSGEFÜHRT 2015, special award for sustainable construction
German wooden building award 2015, shortlisted
Prize for quality in housebuilding 2015, acknowledgement
Award for good housebuilding 2015

Outros projetos por zillerplus architects and urban planners

Mühlbach district
München Freimann, Alemanha
Osterbrook Courtyards