B-Part – the timber building in the park

Bpart_Berlin Urban Ideation Lab am Gleisdreieck

Given that B-Part will itself be home to an experimental lab dedicated to the development of the ideal city quarter, it’s no surprise that the building will play its own role. This has been made possible with timber-based construction.

While buildings made from wood are generally associated with huts, holiday homes, or quaint Swedish homes, this development took a very different – upwards – direction long ago.

It was only a few years ago that wooden skyscrapers were something not only unthinkable, but not even permitted. Today, an 18-storey timber building is reaching high into the Vancouver skies. Even industrial buildings are now being built with this ancient building material, such as the hundred-metre-high “Timber Tower” wind power plant in Hannover.

Timber has been used in construction for thousands of years, and naturally carries with it a wide assortment of advantageous properties. But it is only in recent years that production technology has developed to such an extent that these benefits can also be enjoyed in larger buildings.

The key lies in industrial production technology and modular construction methods. Indeed, such buildings are not so much constructed on the site where the finish building stands, but rather supplied as ready-to-assemble modules manufactured elsewhere. In the case of the B-Part, the wooden elements come from Switzerland. Swiss specialists Renggli are leading the way in high-precision wood processing.

Renggli operates a highly automated production plant on an area of 50,000 m² in the Lucerne district of Schötz. Just like in the automotive industry, this facility is set up for just-in-time production. Each stage of manufacturing is clearly defined and recorded in 3D models. The high-precision machines are computer-controlled for maximum accuracy: the maximum deviation for elements 12 metres in length is just one millimetre at Renggli. When production is complete, components weighing up to 5 tonnes and up to 16 metres in length leave the shop floor. At Renggli, traditional and highly trained joiners and carpenters increasingly work alongside IT specialists, engineers, and building technicians.

In contrast to the wooden skyscrapers that can be realised using these methods, the B-Part will remain a little more grounded with its two storeys.

It isn’t height which matters here – but the contribution the space will make to the future of life and work in our city. After all, wood and timber constructions will with good reason quite literally play a growing role in the years to come. It’s a material that both looks good on the outside and feels warm and cosy on the inside. Wood has always provided a feeling of comfort. It helps to create a pleasant oasis in the middle of an urban concrete landscape. As a building material, wood also offers major ecological advantages over concrete. This renewable building material stores carbon dioxide, while the production of cement unfortunately continues to emit enormous amounts of the greenhouse gas.

Last but not least, the modular wooden elements also offer structural advantages. Firstly, the building material is much lighter than usual, which saves energy during transport. Secondly, timber buildings can be erected much more quickly, which makes a major contribution to meeting the requirements of a densely populated city.

The temporary B-Part has another plus: at the end of its four to six years at Gleisdreieck Park, the timber building can be completely dismantled and rebuilt elsewhere. Right now, however, the focus is on erecting the structure. Anyone curious about how B-Part is coming together is welcome to join a tour of the building shell in November 2018.

More details on the exact date to follow.