Architecture

Carbon-neutral Woodcube apartment block made almost entirely from wood

Carbon-neutral Woodcube apartm...
Woodcube is on display at IBA Hamburg until November (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
Woodcube is on display at IBA Hamburg until November (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
View 12 Images
No glue or treatment was used in Woodcube's construction (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
1/12
No glue or treatment was used in Woodcube's construction (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
The wood offers excellent natural insulation (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
2/12
The wood offers excellent natural insulation (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
The building sports a heat exchanger-based ventilation system, which can be controlled via iPad (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
3/12
The building sports a heat exchanger-based ventilation system, which can be controlled via iPad (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
The building sports heat exchanger which can be controlled via iPad (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
4/12
The building sports heat exchanger which can be controlled via iPad (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
The apartment block measures a total of 1,479 sq m (16,000 sq ft) (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
5/12
The apartment block measures a total of 1,479 sq m (16,000 sq ft) (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
Woodcube is on display at IBA Hamburg until November (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
6/12
Woodcube is on display at IBA Hamburg until November (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
The building is part of the Smart Material Houses exhibit (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
7/12
The building is part of the Smart Material Houses exhibit (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
The elevator is fitted with a brake energy recovery system, reducing its energy consumption by an estimated 60 percent (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
8/12
The elevator is fitted with a brake energy recovery system, reducing its energy consumption by an estimated 60 percent (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
The building contains eight residential units (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
9/12
The building contains eight residential units (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
The apartment block measures a total of 1,479 sq m (16,000 sq ft) (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
10/12
The apartment block measures a total of 1,479 sq m (16,000 sq ft) (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
No glue or treatment was used in Woodcube's construction (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
11/12
No glue or treatment was used in Woodcube's construction (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
The construction of Woodcube began last November and was completed this April (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
12/12
The construction of Woodcube began last November and was completed this April (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
View gallery - 12 images

As we've previously reported, the use of wood as a building material for larger structures is gaining steam throughout the construction industry. In honor of this year's IBA Hamburg architecture festival, German architectural firm Architekturagentur has created Woodcube: a 5-story carbon-neutral apartment block constructed almost entirely from wood.

The vast majority of the building is wood, excepting necessary fixtures, along with the foundations and elevator shaft. However, no glue nor treatment of any kind was used on the wood during the construction of Woodcube, and the architects instead turned to simple wooden dowels in order to join the necessary pieces together.

Woodcube has a total floor area of 1,479 sq m (16,000 sq ft), and contains eight residential units, themselves measuring between 90 to 190 sq m (968 to 2,045 sq ft). The building's 32 cm (12.5 inch)-thick outer walls offer excellent natural insulation.

The construction of Woodcube began last November and was completed this April (Photo: IBA Hamburg)
The construction of Woodcube began last November and was completed this April (Photo: IBA Hamburg)

An efficient ventilation system based on a heat exchanger can be controlled via iPad, and the elevator is fitted with a brake energy recovery system, cutting down on its energy consumption by an estimated 60 percent. Woodcube also sports solar panels to produce all the electricity required for the building's systems.

The construction of Woodcube began last November and was completed this April. The structure will be on display at IBA Hamburg until November, as part of the festival's Smart Material Houses exhibit.

Sources: IBA Hamburg, Woodcube [German Translation] via Inhabitat

View gallery - 12 images
21 comments
Nick Aspinwall
If this was created using recycled wood that would be great. However, the building appears to use a lot of wood which results in more deforestation. Did they plant trees to help offset the natural resources used?
Jim Sadler
This is a termites wet dream.
Jon Smith
Wood as a building material, that's revolutionary! I'm so glad maybe now I can stop living in this dark dirty cave. What will they think of next maybe something round that helps move things? Maybe something hot that gives off light? Wait a minute what am I doing humans surely could not have developed a written language before building homes with words so... gfsdhjil aeuifhlzscvmbjhio sadikjdfgzl fgaop apui9grf
Rehab
Looking forward to seeing all wood structures reach 30 stories and more. Nothing beats wood, natures material!
Bob Flint
What percent of wood versus standard or traditional building materials, such as gyproc, plaster, paint. What is the expected life span? No mention of surface finishes, fire retardants, or treaments of any kind? What is wrong with using nails and screws, vesus wooden dowels. How long does it take versus other contruction styles? Still a lot of metal framing required for the glazing, elevator shafts in concrete, etc.
thk
You can get away with being carbon neutral building a block or two but if the idea catches on, how many more can you build before it becomes carbon negative as I doubt you can plant enough to keep pace. Won't protecting the wood from termites and fire neutralize any cost savings? Maybe, it for wood lovers only.
Mantion
How is building with wood green????? Cement last a long time, can be made by burning waste and steel can be made by electricity generated by nuclear power plants.
Slowburn
In the long run I think concrete would use less carbon assuming the building lasts that long. @ Nick Aspinwall Deforestation is mostly caused by subsistence farming. The people who own the land the harvested trees was on usually replant behind them.
Sam Sams
Makes me think Great fire of London...
Threesixty
Wood is carbon fibre, so where exactly does carbon become neutral? Underground carbon in the form of petrified oil will mutate sooner or later according to natural process. It will enter the atmosphere whether we burn it or let it rot...same as wood. Current priests offer prayers to stop the sky falling... backed up with earth money...yet the sky obeys natural process regardless of prayers nor supplications.