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Eco timber housing estate Meerleben

A construction consortium is building a village of fully ecological timber frame houses on the Baltic Sea. The holistic design without pollutants sets an example for both raw materials and society as a whole.

agmm Architekten + Stadtplaner
Matthias Arndt
Wismar, Germany
  • Lignosil-Verano

In order to realize their alternative ideas of building, living and housing, people of different ages and lifestyles have joined together to form a building community. For the 7,700 mยฒ site near Wismar, which is located only 800 m from the Baltic Sea beach, the development plan envisaged a village-like vacation home settlement that can be used by the owners themselves as well as rented out. There the building community with name sea life (www.meerleben-baugemeinschaft.de) establishes in three sections altogether 14 vacation houses in energy-saving, full-ecological timber frame construction method, the first seven are now ready for occupation. The acquisition, the planning and the conversion of the project took place in the collective. The ensemble will later also include a community house and a green area for leisure activities. 

Urban development quality versus new building uncontrolled growth

All the vacation homes built in the first construction phase received a floor slab including base made of fiber cement. Their perimeter insulation was done with environmentally friendly foam glass panels made from recycled waste glass. The architectural basis is a prefabricated house developed by the architects, with uniform standards for the building envelope, windows and roofs, with corresponding cost advantages. Thus, the roof pitch may be a maximum of 45 degrees, the eaves height a maximum of 3.80 m and the ridge height a maximum of 8.60 m. Bay windows, turrets, columns and dormers are excluded, and roof recesses for e.g. roof terraces may not exceed 1/3 of the total eaves length of the respective building. Members can live out their individuality in the floor plans, with variable patios, terraces and atriums. The building window of the houses measures 11 m x 13 m, whereby the actual floor areas vary. The character of the settlement is characterized by the diversity of the houses, and at the same time by their unity of material and design framework. The viewer is immediately aware of the relationship between people and architecture, which formulates an urban planning claim and consciously opposes the incoherent proliferation of German new development areas with high qualities in design and execution. 

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Pre-graying with KEIM Lignosil-Verano

The timber frame houses, constructed from prefabricated wall elements with a KVH frame only 16 cm deep, have all received 24 mm vertical Douglas fir cladding as facade cladding. The boards, treated with a silicate-based glaze, sit on counter battens and load-bearing battens screwed to softwood fiberboard with a 7-cm back-ventilation level. "We decided to pre-grey with KEIM Lignosil-Verano because we wanted to avoid the unsightly spotty aging of the wood. In order to remain as close as possible to the natural wood look, we deliberately decided against an opaque coating," explains Patric F.C. Meier of agmm Architekten + Stadtplaner. The settlers were able to choose from three KEIM Lignosil Verano color shades. The kiln-dried and planed Douglas fir boards were coated twice at the factory using a so-called Impregmate in a vacuum mat process. This causes the graying of the weathered wood formwork to proceed more evenly, making further treatment, sanding, painting, etc. unnecessary. This is an important factor, since this first silicate paint for wood facades on the market not only ensures lasting protection against rain, sun and frost, but at the same time keeps the appearance even for about 20 years. This is because KEIM Lignosil-Verano guides fresh wood formwork into a stain-free aging process. Over the years, it then gradually approaches the desirable, silver-grey patina of age-old log houses. In the process, the basic structure of the wood as well as its diffusibility is not impaired, because the silicate glaze is plasticizer-free and without the addition of preservatives and solvents 700 mยฒ of facade formwork was pre-greyed from around 19 mยณ of Douglas fir wood for the first construction phase.

GFM plate simplifies and optimizes construction process

The construction of the building envelopes is repeated in all seven houses - and will also be used in the following construction phases. The wall construction impresses with its simplicity, due to the multivariable construction qualities of one and the same component. This construction revolution is made possible by the 3 cm thick, glue-free GFM board (GFM = gluefree massive) made of VOC-free, Black Forest silver fir. As a pollutant-free OSB substitute, it not only stiffens the timber framework, but also acts as an airtight layer in a single operation, and also forms the natural vapor barrier in both directions, and on top of that forms the final interior surface. In addition, the KVH frame can be narrower due to the insulating effect of the 3 cm thick, airtight solid wood layer, which reduces construction costs. This simple construction principle, which satisfies both structural and room-climate requirements as well as building-physical and visual demands, saves time, money and precious material input. The diffusion-open wall structure requires no foils, no taping, no filling, no wood-based panels and no gypsum boards. The GFM board is stapled to the KVH frame - done. Finally, the sanded wood surfaces were even left exposed in parts. As a result, the GFM panel has ushered in a new era in timber frame construction: shell construction is equal to interior construction. And at the same time, more natural wood is returning to timber frame construction. For the insulation of walls and roofs, the construction community relies on blown-in wood fibers made of untreated fir and spruce wood.

Community building and living on the rise

The trend from individual to communal building and living has increased. Doing everything alone requires more time, money and nerves than many people can or want to spend alone. Together, however, the diverse requirements can be better managed. In addition the building costs sink completely substantially, since the margins of the developer and the brokerage of the real estate agent are void. The members of the building community Meerleben act themselves as responsible entrepreneurs, who want to live in their future dwelling in a dignified manner and not speculate with it. The people understand themselves as part of a village, in which one refers to one another, with one another engaged and interested lives. No wonder that the holistic settlement concept has already found a successor: the 'Holzbaugemeinschaft Eifelleben' (www.holzbaugemeinschaft-eifelleben.de).

Author: Marc Wilhelm Lennartz - Independent journalist, speaker & book author
Contact: www.mwl-sapere-aude.com 

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