Climate protection, energy system transformation and resource conservation are increasingly drawing the public’s attention to contemporary timber construction. Timber is both a renewable raw material and an efficient building material. Thanks to recent technical and structural advancements, new uses are becoming possible, particularly for building in urban areas. weberbrunner architekten is a pioneer in urban timber construction. Founded in 1999, the practice is based in Zurich and Berlin. Timber Tales presents a selection of completed and planned projects by the architects, offering new, well-designed perspectives for a sustainable and future-oriented approach to building. These range from a small house to central Europe’s largest timber housing complex. Complementing the exhibition, a series of events focuses on the many positive aspects of timber buildings and is dedicated to telling the stories about the people who plan, implement, and ultimately dwell in them.
As a building material, timber comes in many forms – from solid wood, glue-laminated timber and plywood used for floor slabs, roof structures, interior walls and partitions, and firewalls, to complex prefabricated modules used in facades. Because of its manifold properties and as a result of recent technical and industrial advancements, timber construction can accommodate considerable loads and spans.
Multi-generational housing estate Hagmann-Areal in Winterthur. © Georg Aerni
In its various forms timber construction offers a high degree of flexibility and a systematic construction process. Prefabricated systems mean shorter construction times and a dry construction process – as opposed to on-site concrete mixing – guarantees a high degree of cost and schedule security. As a result, timber is increasingly preferred for multi-storey structures. Its use opens up new possibilities for contemporary architecture, in particular by providing compatible solutions for sustainable urban densification.
Timber provides ideal insulation against both heat and cold. As a natural building material it is also breathable, supporting a healthy and comfortable indoor environment. Apart from rustic associations with half-timbered houses and Alpine chalets, timber can be well combined with other building materials – such as aluminium, concrete, or stone – resulting in remarkable contrasts.
sue&til housing complex in Winterthur; Wood as construction material. © Beat Bühler
The exhibition Timber Tales presents urban timber buildings by weberbrunner architekten located across Switzerland and Germany in a variety of scales: the Freie Waldorfschule Kindergarten in Werder an der Havel; the multi-family house Im Amt in Gutenswil; the single-family home Bruderberg in Weiningen; the multi-generational housing estate Hagmann-Areal in Winterthur; and the sue&til housing complex, also in Winterthur, which is the largest timber residential project in central Europe.
Multi-family house Im Amt in Gutenswil. © Beat Bühler
Photographs by Beat Bühler, Georg Aerni, Dominic Büttner and Volker Schopp depict the buildings and their details inside and out, giving insight into building processes and the various uses of timber. Drawing on five projects by weberbrunner architekten and narrative project statements, the exhibition at Aedes presents three theses on timber as a building material of the future:
• Sustainable load-bearing structures – timber as a building material with built-in CO2 storage
• Timber as a political statement – wooden attire for sustainable awareness
• The quality of the interior – timber’s emotional impact
Freie Waldorfschule Kindergarten in Werder an der Havel. © Beat Bühler
About the architects
weberbrunner architekten have been working in Zurich since 1999 and in Berlin since 2016. The team of 30 comprises architects, site managers, drafting technicians, student trainees and apprentices. In addition to working across a wide range of building typologies including urban development, public buildings, housing, and health care as well as conversions and extensions, weberbrunner pursues a holistic design approach; accompanying projects from start to finish. The offices undertake projects in which urban opportunities, architectural quality, and the approach to construction and its social relevance are continually investigated and implemented. Urban timber construction has increasingly become a central focus of weberbrunner’s repertoire.