Construction of the world’s tallest wood high-rise will begin next spring in Vienna, Austria. When completed in 2017, the HoHo building will have 24 storeys. Today, the tallest wood high-rise is a 14-storey residential building under construction in Bergen, Norway.
According to architect Rudiger Lainer, technical and financial readiness of wood construction makes it possible to realise the project. “Our innovative goal is to realise synergy in architecture, ecology and the building’s usage value for its residents and other occupants. In addition, wood offers an important visual and tactile impact.”
“The starting point is to realise the building as efficiently as possible. We combine wood construction with concrete construction and with this synergy we strive for the best possible solution from the standpoint of building regulations, quality, cost-efficiency, fire safety and flexibility,” Lainer explains.
To ensure cost-efficiency, RLP Architects wanted to use wood structures as a starting point in the most effective possible floor plan solution. The towers are hybrid structures. Concrete stair towers reinforce their cores, where the lift and installation shafts are also located. Offices and other spaces around the stair tower are wood structures that bear their own weight.
The aim has been to utilise the best features of each material according to load-bearing capability, fire safety as well as comfort in households and other spaces. This has enabled meeting the important functional requirements for a tall building, including strict construction regulations. About 74 per cent of the structures above the foundation are wood.”
“Wood is a natural choice in Austria, because more of it grows than is used. Wood is cost-effective, it saves resources, it has high acceptability and wood surfaces create a natural atmosphere in indoor spaces. We have developed a technical wood construction system that enables construction of tall buildings,” Lainer stresses.
Goal is a long life-cycle, ecology and economy
The wood high-rise is located in Seestadt Aspern northeast of Vienna by the Seepark park. RLP Architects Rüdiger Lainer+Partner is developing a new city block in a central location. Lakeside buildings are lower and those farther away are taller, which Lainer says is an important element in the lake’s silhouette. “Of course it’s not just a question of how the area looks from farther away, but also of what everyday life is like in a tall wood building in the block.”
“Solid wood, prefabricated modules enable a facade design with very diverse expressions. Alternating open and closed surfaces offer both views and privacy. The appearance of the facade is reminiscent of bark, and fits in well with Vienna’s Seestadt Aspern,” Lainer says of the project.
According to Lainer, the building’s multifaceted uses and the flexibility of its structures complement each other. In addition to flats, the building will house a spa, offices and restaurants. “Structures that can be combined and diversity of room spaces created the building’s high usage value. We can make changes later to how the building is used, depending on the market situation and occupants’ needs.”
“The flexible and user-friendly floor plan division gives the building a long usage life. A long life cycle is an important factor in efficient sustainability when the aim is to find a balance between economy and ecology,” Lainer says. “Use of room space is usually inflexible due to fixed, massive walls. We want a flexible construction system and passive building status.”
Lainer’s goal is to construct a building where people can experience wood. “Wood is part of the space’s atmosphere, which promotes the occupant’s well-being. The fundamental idea of the building is that we don’t want to follow a trend, and materials’ basic characteristics are emphasised. For occupants and passers-by, this tall wood building will become part of everyday life. Our goal is for the building to be experienced as humane, and the lights there won’t go out at six p.m.”
RLP Rüdiger Lainer+Partner Architects was established in Vienna in 1985. With more than 30 completed projects, the office has broad-ranging experience with office and residential building construction, renovation of old buildings, converting loft space into flats, industrial construction, entertainment centre construction as well as school and kindergarten construction. RLP has realised leading projects in urban development, structural concepts, served as the primary designer in projects and as a construction coordinator.
The HoHo building’s primary contractor is Cetus Baudevelopment GmbH, whose chief engineer is Caroline Palfy. The Kerbler group is investing about 65 million euros in the project. The total surface area of the building is 25,000 square metres, of which 19,500 square metres will be rented.
Article Service Markku Laukkanen