Apartment building on Esmarchstrasse
First seven-storey timber building in an urban context in Central Europe
Baugruppe e3 Gbr, Berlin
Kaden Klingbeil, Berlin/D
Bois Consult Natterer SA, Etoy
In the Berlin district of Prenzlauer Berg, a group of residents came together in 2005 with the common desire to create additional,affordable living space suitable for families. They asked the architects if it would be possible to build a high-quality, ecologicallysound timber building. An empty site was available amidst late nineteenth-century buildings. For reasons of fire protection, Berlin’s building code allows timber to be used as a load-bearing construction material only for buildings whose highest floor is a maximum of thirteen metres off the ground. In this case, however, the architects managed through compensatorymeasures to receive permission to build a seven-storey structure. The design unites cleverly conceived circulation routes as a bow to fire protection requirements with the clients’ demands for individual apartment layouts: the free-standing, unenclosed stairway of reinforced concrete is set apart from the building and hence will remain smoke-free in case of fire. Each storey contains just one flat. Two concrete shafts for service installations that take on both load-bearing and bracing functions are the only stipulations for the arrangement of groundplans. The positioning of the glulam posts on the facade plane keeps the apartments free of interior load-bearing walls and hence flexible with regard to room divisions. Solid wood walls fill in the skeleton structure, their nodes connected by steel elements. The floors of vertically stacked planks are supplemented with a layer of concrete, but the bare wood remains visible on the ceilings. To conform with fire prevention regulations, the supports and walls are clad in gypsum fibreboard. The ceiling-high windows are offset from storey to storey so that the skeleton structure of the building shines through its facade, while the rendering of different textures distinguishestimber support structure from infill. The project is the first seven-storey timber building to be built in an urban context in Central Europe.