The Monthly European Architectural Newsletter
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March 2010

division of Archi-Europe Group


Green living

When it comes to rethinking the way we live, it is only natural that architects should lead the way. Aren't they the ones expected to redefine priorities and divert constraints? From the pioneering of environmental design up to group housing, more space and energy efficient than the individual home, residential building is truly fertile ground for eco-architecture. Architecture which is proving to be extremely diverse. Experts assert that by 2050, 80% of the world's population will be residing in an urban setting. Accordingly, any discussion about sustainable architecture will inevitably lead to one about how to develop cities and inhabit them intelligently. But the answers are many, reflecting the complexity of the locations and challenges. In light of pressing social and climate factors, environmental principles are being discovered today as a possible way forward. Not as newfound energy-saving tricks, rather as the settling in of a global concept. The true art of building is what goes into the development of buildings which use no more than 30, 15 even 0% of fossil fuels, as a host of green energies gradually takes over. But this alone won't do. Building a living environment in harmony with all other demands of modern society means being mindful of nature, but also of social and geopolitical challenges. Last month, with Francis Kéré, we looked at African architectural concepts that are up against ongoing challenges to their existence. "The architect can no longer content herself with tapping into her own resources for new ideas," says Marie-Hélène Contal, author of the book Sustainable Design: Towards a New Ethic in Architecture and Town Planning", co-written with Jana Revedin and published by Birkhaüser (2009). In the northern countries, the project is replenishing itself with techniques. Elsewhere, we're seeing an overture towards social relationships and culture. There are faltering notions that need to be challenged. We must get out of the 'reconquest' mindset."

* in French: "Architectures durables - Une nouvelle éthique pour l'architecture et la ville", Editions Le Moniteur 2009

Marie-Hélène Contal also participated in the collective work Habiter écologique - Quelles architectures pour une ville durable? (Collective housing – Exploring architecture for a sustainable city) Published by Acte Sud 2009

The Archi-Europe team

Portrait of the month

Hermann Kaufmann

Coming forward as defenders of wood in construction, Austrian Hermann Kaufmann stands out for his unfailing determination to reconcile architecture and environment

In a few weeks' time we'll know the nominees for the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture. In the first edition in 2007, this international prize brought distinction to Hermann Kaufman, a specialist in passive housing, for his research on innovative contemporary architecture marked by improved performance in the areas of energy consumption, environmental friendliness, materials and technologies. It was in this context that he was awarded the order for the first "Collection Manifeste of sustainable architecture" built in France's Yvelines region*. A small town lodge and conference centre, this "wood on wood" built on 10x10 m piles on two levels of untreated wood, is a "super passive house" insofar as the architect is betting on consumption five times lower than that of a traditional passive house. Born in 1955 in Vorarlberg, Hermann Kaufmann spent his childhood in the family sawmills, where he learned first-hand about the possibilities of the wood medium and how to master the techniques related to wood. Let's not forget that Vorarlberg, the region in Austria that was traditionally the home of the wood industry, also played host to a movement that united architects and builders around unrivalled traditional know-how in the search for industrialised wooden structures. After studying architectures in Innsbruck and Vienna, Hermann Kaufmann returned to his native Vorarlberg. The central theme of the projects of the agency he created in Schwarzach with Christian Lenz is aspiring to meet a commitment to society: to produce environmentally-friendly housing accessible to all. Wood is his material of choice. Hailed for its energy performance and characterised by highly insulated façade elements made of natural larch, punctuated by coloured elements, the Mühlweg residential complex attests to the feasibility of constructing multi-storey wooden social housing. The community centre in Ludesh sets a passive house standard. The entire building process and all of the materials used were chosen for their durability (at an added cost of just 1.9%). Its "laboratories" are individual homes, such as the Mathis house, a wooden building with large windows, protruding on three sides with terraces protected by wide overhanging roofs. Good thermal insulation, a heat pump over vertical drilling and solar sensors allow for minimum energy consumption.

As a wood specialist, Hermann Kaufmann, who also happens to lecture at the Technical University of Munich, has landed an impressed deal in France: A collective habitat in Lyon, which he received after winning a contest. This project, consisting of 77 housing units, designed in cooperation with Hervé Vincent architects, is characterized by its resolutely compact and sturdily built architecture. Its uniqueness is manifested through the warm use of wood, directly or indirectly visible through a second glass shell. A noteworthy aspect of the project, the "Passivhaus" label is a first for collective housing in France. This performance is made possible by the innovative choice of a wooden frame, the exceptional water tightness of the envelope, and systematic triple-pane joinery. The overall energy consumption of the homes is thus lowered to 29.5 Kwh/m2/year.
In Austria or elsewhere, the work of Hermann Kaufmann is based on an ongoing quest for architecture that takes into account sustainable management of resources, optimisation of energy use and stunning wood construction possibility.

In 2058, 51 creations will make up an open-air museum on the habitat of the first part of the 21st century.

Project of the month

A very meticulous and particularly demanding project, this stunning home in the heart of Paris is placing its bets on environment

This rare project came about following the sale of a small corner lot of 120 m² a stone's throw from Porte de Bagnolet. Playing off the difficulties caused by its smallness, Franco-Argentinean architect Pablo Katz constructed a five-storey building on the site. Fiercely opposed to any thoughtless design, he favoured working with light, employing natural and recyclable materials and the visual relationship between spaces. At the same time he used strict geometry and dynamic connections. Paying great attention to the project's equilibrium, the capacity of flexibility makes it possible to meet the inhabitants' current demands and their needs as they evolve over time. The architect supplied the tools to permit the habitat to accompany changes in the family structure. The handling of each façade requires a specific role and an aesthetic contingent upon demands. Most of the street side is open, and the lateral side, which is made of wood and is more closed, protects against the gaze of passers-by. In the back, on south-facing side, the wall with a large window accommodates pleasant weather while still sheltering the outside space. However, a contemporary Arab mashrabiyya protects the inhabitants' privacy in the bathrooms.

The architecture is certainly a product of today, but it is forward-looking, without giving in to ephemeral trends or making compromises. The structure is environmentally friendly. To limit energy loss, the owner and designer opted for an effective insulation, a solar-powered water heater, a condensing gas boiler, low-temperature heating, and double flow ventilation. These elements reduce costs while delivering true comfort. For example, the solar panels cover a little over half of the annual needs in domestic hot water at a reasonable investment and amortisement. The house is environmentally-friendly yet intelligent. There are multiple integrated controls and touch screens. This project is a rather experimental case. The architect was not preoccupied with classifications, which would have forced him into a standards-oriented mindset. The performance was not an end in itself but rather at the service of an overall project, without compromising architectural consistency.

Product of the month

DomoDeck of Echo
Unlimited design

The new floor solutions of Echo. A steady answer to the trend of the present residential construction market. This pre-stretched floor solution of Echo is a blessing for everyone who deals with it: architects, traders, contractors and certainly also the building contractor. DomoDeck represents a new step in the construction, to which superior quality and an unknown service are of decisive interest. That’s why you should choose DomoDeck. The floor solutions of today and tomorrow.

The advantages of DomoDeck:
» Available in 24h
» unlimited design freedom
» Slim implementation at large lengths
» Customization possible
» Better Customization
» Higher return
» 500 kg of useful load

DomoDeck exists of pre-stretched concrete. The reinforcement will be put under tension during the production process. For an identical capacity and lifting power , DomoDeck is thinner than a traditional flooring in concrete. A less thick solution that garantees the loading capacity on the total surface. A gigantic trump. Also in the residence construction!

Echo is convinced that floor elements out of pre-stretched concrete will make a differents in the future. The advantageous of these products are visible on different territories. They allow fast constructing, durability and offer al lot of finishing opportunities.


(11/04 – 16/04/2010) - Frankfurt (DE)
(26/03 – 29/03/2010) Namur (BE)
(16/03 - 19/03/2010) - Cannes (FR)
Made in Holland. Uitvindingen en innovaties
(> 21/03/2010) – Rotterdam (NL)
(> 07/03/2010) Vienna (AT)
Green Life: Costruire città sostenibili
(05/02 - 28/03/2010) - Milan (IT)
The Brno Building Fairs 2010
(13/04 - 17/04/2010) - Czech Republic (CZ)
>> read more


The 2010 AIA UK Chapter: Excellence in Design Awards Programme
Deadline : 12/03/2010
Daylight Spaces 2010
Deadline : 26/04/2010

The Schindler Award
Deadline : 30/04/2010

World Habitat Awards
Deadline : 01/06/2010
>> read more


1. Petit manuel de la conception durable
Françoise-Hélène Jourda
96 pages | € 39.95
Editions Archibooks
ISBN 978-2-35733-075-7
>> read more

2. Hi-Tec Architecture
384 pages | € 28.00
Daab Publishing
English/ French/ German/ Italian/ Spanish

ISBN 978-3-86654-020-0
>> read more

3. Green living
Àlex Sánchez Vidiella

619 pages |
Booqs Tectum Publishers
English/ French/ Dutch/ German

ISBN 978-8492463-99-2
>> read more

Copyright 2010 Archi-Europe Group nv/sa
Responsible Editor: Jacques Allard | Chief Editor: Marie-Claire Regniers

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