Berlin plays host to Germany’s most sustainable office building project

An ensemble of two office buildings close to the Südkreuz station in Berlin demonstrates the  potential of large-scale timber construction that is modular and highly sustainable

Demonstrating the sustainability potential of large-scale timber construction, a new two-building office ensemble in Berlin is reported to be Germany’s largest freestanding wood-hybrid project, and one of the biggest in Europe.

Called EDGE Suedkreuz Berlin, the project consists of two seven-storey buildings: the larger Carré and the smaller Solitaire. A modular wood-and-concrete system was used for construction, comprising timber columns and prefabricated timber-hybrid slab panels.

Located opposite the Südkreuz station, one of Berlin’s major transport hubs, the project is part of a new urban development that integrates sustainability with liveability.

Towards carbon neutral

Buro Happold provided structural engineering, building services and sustainability consultancy for the project, and its work is described as proposing a new standard for working towards carbon neutrality with renewable and sustainable materials.   

The Carré building houses office spaces for the energy company Vattenfall. An atrium forms the heart of the building and contains 1,600 square metres of space under a soaring timber-lattice skylight roof.

The atrium is punctuated by four large columns that mimic the trunk and canopy form of a tree, supporting a network of staircases and upper-level walkways. The roof is constructed from timber, steel and lightweight ETFE cushions, which regulate temperature and filter daylight into the atrium and the surrounding offices, creating a warm, comfortable working environment in all seasons.

The building’s fifth floor features a solid wood loggia, supported by 1.5-metre-high trusses and a cross-laminated timber ceiling. Interior architecture was provided by de Winder Architekten.

Holistic approach

An holistic approach to sustainability was key to the development from the outset. This approach encompassed a reduction of the upfront carbon costs involved in construction and in the building’s overall footprint, as well as careful consideration of the wellbeing of users. The project combines modular construction with a reliance on timber, two elements considered essential to building sustainably at a large scale.

Tchoban Voss Architekten and Buro Happold worked with a modular timber system developed by CREE Buildings, a firm specialising in wood-hybrid construction based in Dornbirn, Austria. According to Buro Happold, the use of this system means that the timber-hybrid structure weighs as much as 50 per cent less than a standard structure. This approach kept the foundation requirements low.

Award for design quality

The buildings received an overall DGNB compliance rating of 95.4 per cent, a score that positions it as the most sustainable architecture project in Germany. It also received the DGNB Diamond award for design quality.

Sergei Tchoban, partner at Tchoban Voss Architekten, explains: ‘EDGE Suedkreuz Berlin is not just an ensemble of buildings. For me, the project is and remains a prototype of a new way of thinking. In the construction of the buildings, the focus was on reducing the weight and thus the CO2 footprint as much as possible, while, at the same time, combining the aesthetics of the building with an ethical approach to nature. Special emphasis was placed on using materials that can be recycled according to the cradle-to-cradle principle.

Tchoban  adds: ‘The prefabrication of the building components and their possible repeated use ensure a sustainable building system that makes it possible to create impressive spaces and future-oriented working environments.’

Andrew Sansom is editorial director of SALUS Global Knowledge ExchangeSalus is a content partner of WORKTECH Academy.
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