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“House of cards” with smart materials wins Global Innovation prize

The significant potential for the innovative use of concrete as a building material is currently showcased at the International Building Exhibition (Internationale Bauausstellung) IBA in Hamburg. A team from Barkow Leibinger Architects developed a Smart Material House for the IBA Hamburg which was presented with a Global Holcim Innovation prize. The winning project in the newly-created “Innovation” category was selected from more than 6,000 entries in 126 countries that took part in the 3rd International Holcim Awards competition.

The Holcim Innovation prize honors projects that represent the leading edge of materials innovation and new approaches to building technology. Frank Barkow and Regine Leibinger of Barkow Leibinger Architects in Berlin, along with Mike Schlaich, Technical University of Berlin (TU Berlin), and Matthias Schuler, Transsolar Energietechnik in Stuttgart designed a Smart Material House that addresses the provision of low-cost housing in the City of Hamburg – that meets the needs for economic and ecological performance, as well as architectural aesthetics and social equity.

Adroit design techniques are combined with smart materials including infra-lightweight concrete and glued laminated timber (glulam) are stacked like a “house of cards” to create multi-level apartments of 90-225 m2. The pre-fabricated concrete used weighs only one third of conventional concrete: yet it delivers additional benefits to the building. The massive curved, precast elements are load-bearing walls, delineate space, provide thermal insulation, and also encase parts of the heating and cooling system.

Chairman of the Global Holcim Innovation prize jury, renowned architect and Professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Harry Gugger, considers the technology to be a quantum leap. “The project team has developed a simple, monolithic structure, while pursuing a formally ambitious concept for low-cost housing, that has created an aesthetically-pleasing environment with an architectural quality in terms of space, form, light, and ambiance,” he said.

The prize of USD 50,000 was presented at the IBA Hamburg by Werner Sobek. The eminent civil engineer and Director of the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design (ILEK) at the University of Stuttgart, was also a member of the Global Holcim Awards jury. Guests were welcomed by Uli Hellweg, CEO of IBA Hamburg.

Roland Köhler, Member of the Executive Committee of Holcim responsible for Europe, and Leo Mittelholzer, CEO of Holcim Germany focused their speeches on the commitment of Holcim in the area of sustainability. “As a producer of construction materials we are at the beginning of a value creation chain. Our intention is to build awareness of sustainable construction amongst professionals and the public and to strengthen its significance in research and development, and in practice,” said Leo Mittelholzer.

Prizes for sustainable construction solutions

The presentation of the first Innovation prizes is a highlight of the 3rd Holcim Awards competition. The competition seeks innovative, future-oriented and tangible construction projects to promote sustainable responses to the technological, environmental, socioeconomic and cultural issues affecting building and construction on a local, regional and global level.

The competition takes place first across five global regions, with prize-winners progressing to a global phase. All 53 projects that were awarded a prize in the regional phase of the competition in 2011 were eligible to compete for global Holcim Innovation prizes. Further Holcim Innovation prizes were presented to the High-efficiency concrete formwork technology project by Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler, Professors of Architecture and Digital Fabrication at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), and to a group of students of the AA School of Architecture in London, for their Cast on cast: efficient fabrication system for geometrically complex building elements.

Last Updated: September 12, 2012
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Hamburg, Germany
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