HomeNewsTimber-hybrid tower block: would-be architects at the University of Liechtenstein develop innovative concepts

Timber-hybrid tower block: would-be architects at the University of Liechtenstein develop innovative concepts

From September 2011, an eight-storey LifeCycle Tower (LCT) will be erected in Dornbirn, Austria. What is special about LCT One? The hybrid tower block consists mostly of wood. The project architect is Hermann Kaufmann; the client is a subsidiary of a Vorarlberg construction company. The flexibility of the LCT system is illustrated in sketches by architecture students at the University of Liechtenstein, supervised by Professor Dietrich Schwarz. They have come up with some highly creative solutions for the living and working spaces of the future.

Architect Hermann Kaufmann and the wood construction company Rhomberg, from Bregenz, started the LifeCycle Tower (LCT) research project in 2009. One year later, the building concept and the corresponding construction system were completed, and construction is now due to start in September.Additional buildings are intended for mass production in future. The LifeCycle Tower – the first unencapsulated timber-hybrid building – will be 27 metres high and have eight storeys. The tower block will consist mostly of timber; however, wood will only be used where it is sensible to do so. Another special feature is the load-bearing structure. The vertical loads are supported by wooden double supports in the facade surface. The storey ceilings consist of a wood-concrete composite. Since the LifeCycle Tower has no load-bearing partition walls, the building can be used very flexibly. The structural elements can be arranged as desired, just like in a construction kit. 

Lots of good ideas for flexible use

The 14 students enrolled on the Master’s degree programme in Architecture at the University of Liechtenstein have created their visions of future timber-hybrid construction. Using the LCT system as a basis, they developed additional buildings relating to the topics “Urban Density” and “Community”. The experts found it particularly striking that in all the work there was a recognizable trend towards multi-purpose buildings in future: living quarters, offices and a kindergarten all under one roof. “The LCT system is designed for today’s applications and is very innovative regarding the possibilities for using timber in a vertical, static concept. At the same time, it remains consistently true to the rational geometries of grids and towers. Our students have taken up the system and linked it with concepts for a vertical city. This results in spatial structures which opened up new perspectives,” says Robert Mair, scientific employee at the University of Liechtenstein.

“Those projects which were developed most systematically by the students challenge today’s ideas of living. Unexpected living concepts resulted from increasing urban density by comprehensively stacking surfaces and reducing the number of square metres per person. Between 2020 and 2060 – when energy begins to run short – the world will be a different place in many ways,” Professor Schwarz agrees with the visionary approaches of his Master’s students.