Design Studio WS 07/08

LEGO for Professionals

LEGO for Professionals


In the course of this exercise, contemporary visions around the so-called room cell construction in solid wood construction are required. Questions about prefabrication as well as mass production of prototypical basic modules are confronted with the demand for spatially varied living situations. It is necessary to sound out the design qualities as well as the constructive peculiarities of the solid wood construction method accordingly and to transfer the developed approaches into an individual solution. In doing so, however, principles are to be developed that could also be applied elsewhere. In the course of this, a specific location as well as a concrete use is to be chosen and this is to be worked through to the area of interior design. The exercise refers to the project realized in 1967 by architect Moshe Safdie: “Habitat”, which is the result of a modular building system development. The structure, made of reinforced concrete, despite the repetition of the same elements, shows an amazing diversity in terms of spatial offer. The project initially functioned as the main pavilion at the Expo in Montreal and was only then put to its actual use as a residential building. In the context of the ggst. Exercise, a three-dimensional spatial structure is to be developed with the help of large-format solid wood panels, which is to be suitable both for living and working. This structure can be located in urban space, as well as within a freely chosen natural environment. In connection with Moshe Safdie’s project, the question arises to what extent a conceivably diverse spatial offer in solid wood construction can be achieved by using repetitive elements. In order to get closer to feasible solutions, the exercise will be carried out in close cooperation with the Austrian company KLH.


Looking at the results of the course “Lego for Professionals”, the first thing that stands out is the wide range of different approaches and their formulation. Based on the task of building with prefabricated elements made of solid wood, a multitude of differently modularly conceived application possibilities emerged. These range from the obvious field of application of residential construction to innovative hotel accommodations at sometimes no less spectacular sites. In almost all cases, the transportability of a single prefabricated unit, or its individual elements folded or merely packed together, formed the starting point for strategic considerations surrounding a new form of modular construction with solid wood panels. However, it is not exclusively the economy that ultimately determines the appearance of the respective result, but rather the relationship between effort and benefit in interaction with a variety of other criteria or shape-giving parameters. Spatial diversity in connection with the addition of a large number of identical or similar elements, or simply the atmosphere that can sometimes be achieved with wood as a building material, often interact with the aforementioned economy to measure forces. In this context, it is necessary to weigh from case to case which parameter is given preference and which is sometimes subordinated, as it were. In a large number of the designs presented here, the “natural” KLH surface was also left visible. This approach corresponds entirely to the classical “architectural thinking” of making a construction readable and its inherent aesthetics visible. However, in the case of solid wood, it is also necessary to take into account its wear and tear, graying and soiling, especially if the material is to be used not only on walls and ceilings, but also in the walk-on floor area. Similar considerations apply if the material is to be used outdoors without a further protective layer. In some cases, students have therefore decided to use a protective cladding, while in others they have consciously accepted these signs of wear and tear. Even if, at first glance, one would hardly think of moving objects in connection with solid wood constructions, many a building designed in this context is characterized by unexpected mechanisms of mobility. Sometimes wall elements are moved and in some places even the entire corner of the room is pushed out of the building. In this way, compact structures are sometimes created, which are able to increase the usable space decisively when required. Regardless of the direction taken by the individual students, the results show that building with solid wood still holds considerable potential, which must be worked on and ultimately exploited in the near and distant future. This is all the more true since this is a building material that must be regarded as more than promising for the future, not least in terms of its ecological attributes.