On Thursday I trekked to the neighborhood of Prenzlauerberg in order to find the famous timber apartment building, E3. This building is a 7-story apartment building located in a residential neighborhood. The façade is covered in a stucco-like paint just like all of the other surrounding buildings in order to match the visual format of the area. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to get a guided tour of the building by the designer or engineer and thus appreciated the building from the outside. E3 is a “passive house,” meaning it is designed to specific regulations to be more energy efficient. A passive house, unlike LEED certification in the U.S., has more measurable performance-based metrics and is focused mostly on energy efficiency whereas LEED awards points for more varied aspects of the building. Wanting to meet the architects who designed the building, I called them that day and was invited to come by the office late afternoon the next day.

At the time of the design and completion in 2012, the architect company was Kaden + Klingbeil. Kaden is currently partnered with a different architect. They are located in Alexanderplatz (“platz” = “square” or “space”), one of the major shopping areas of Berlin. I met one of the employees on the elevator ride up to their office and she introduced me to one of the architects who I was able to talk to and ask questions about their projects. I was specifically interested in what the timber concrete composite (TCC) decking looked like, and especially in the way the slabs were connected to each other in order to resist lateral forces. My master’s thesis is concerned with similar issues. So I was interested in the connection comparison between cross-laminated timber floors panels and TCC (such as how strong and stiff the joints are between two panels). The architect I spoke to wasn’t able to answer some of my more technical questions, but he demonstrated that TCC floors were made from glue laminated beams turned on their sides. At the end of the meeting we exchanged emails as he asked for recommendations on timber buildings he could visit during his trip to Seattle in the near future.

 What timber buildings would you recommend to visitors of your town?

 

Mass-wood buildings are a relatively new development in the construction industry and have a lot of promising characteristics: better fire performance, faster construction, less expensive construction costs, safer construction, significantly smaller carbon footprint, and more.  Cross-laminated timber is the prominent engineered wood product that will be the answer to taller timber buildings, as it can effectively replace concrete and steel as the main structural material of a building.

 

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