Karlsruhe Institute of Technology: Colored facades increase acceptance

The building material wood is deeply anchored in the memory of numerous cultural landscapes. A study by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) now shows how much future building with wood will open up. It examines how timber construction can return to the city from a building culture, structural engineering and design point of view. According to the thesis, more color is the key to greater acceptance. The reference project for the study is the “Vinzent” residential and office building in Munich’s Neuhausen district, which has been designed with colored, green wooden facades.

The study “Colored wooden facades in an urban context” commissioned and financed by the project developer Bauwerk, carried out at the Professorship for Design and Building Construction at KIT, identifies three megatrends, among others, which are driving the new wood construction boom: Wood scores points in the “Ecology and Environment” megatrend its natural CO2 and energy balance, high circularity, emission reductions and a comparatively good availability. With regard to “mechanization and digitization”, timber construction is experiencing massive further development, for example through the coupling of the design process (CAD) and the manufacturing process (CNC) as well as new possibilities for surface processing.

Finally, in the third megatrend, “creating living space”, wood proves to be superior to other building materials in that it can often be prefabricated in a modular manner and installed accordingly efficiently – for example in the case of densification of existing quarters. “Precisely because timber construction is taking up more and more space in the current social discourse, it has to reinvent itself in its expression in order to be able to assume and hold a new position, especially in the city,” emphasizes Professor Ludwig Wappner from the Institute for Design and Building Technology (IEB). of the KIT. “We believe that this should be done on the basis of the design potential of material honesty, the latest production options and building culture continuities.”

Colorfulness pleases the eye and protects the wood

According to the architects and researchers at KIT, this return of wood as a building material to urbanity is linked to technical knowledge and aesthetic laws from the pre-concrete and pre-steel times, but does not mean a renaissance of village or small-town half-timbered idylls. In fact, the urban planning requirements of the present enter into completely new connections with the constructive logic of timber construction. The focus of the publication, which is aimed at planners, those willing to build and renovate as well as interested laypeople, is the wooden façade. The authors describe the change from rod-shaped to flat building elements and plead for plywood surfaces and stacked boards (e.g. in the form of cladding), for constructive, i.e. non-chemical wood protection,

“Color is the entrance ticket for timber construction into the city,” says architect Dr. Falk Schneemann from IEB, next to Ludwig Wappner and Peter Hoffmann, IEB, third author of the study. “Color creates acceptance and facilitates the contextual integration of wooden buildings into established urban districts.” In addition, modern, non-hazardous colored glazes protect the wood from harmful environmental influences such as exhaust fumes, UV radiation or fungi.