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100-SF Student Housing Prototype by Tengbom

Tengbom's 100-sf student house. All photos in this post  are by Bertil Herzberg and courtesy of Tengbom.

Tengbom’s 100-sf student house. All photos in this post are by Bertil Herzberg and courtesy of Tengbom.

There’s a new, all-wood prototype for student housing on display at the Virserum Art Museum by the Swedish firm Tengbom  (self-proclaimed as the country’s oldest architecture firm). According to the firm, the project is the result of a collaboration between students at the University of Lund, Martinsons, a wood manufacturer, and A.F. Bostäder, a real estate developer.

The 100-s.f. studio loft will be a piece of a 22-unit development ready for students in 2014. I’m not sure of the context for this development, but this concept sketch suggests a kind of military camp-in-the-field. That seems kind of strange and anti-social, or at least suburban, but I couldn’t find anything more about the plan.

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The plan and section are pretty tight and reminiscent of Tiny Houses, where lofting a sleeping area above the utility space to free up living space is a common strategy.

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Financial viability and sustainability appear to be strong design factors. Tengbom writes of the project:

“To successfully build affordable student housing requires innovative thinking and new solutions. The area in each unit is reduced from current requirement, 25 square meters to 10 square meters through legal consent. This truly compact-living flat still offers a comfortable sleeping-loft, kitchen, bathroom and a small garden with a patio. Through an efficient layout and the use of cross laminated wood as a construction material the rent is reduced by 50 % and the ecological impact and carbon footprints is also significantly reduced.”

However, the exciting bit (for me) is the use of routed Cross-Laminated Timber CLT panels to create something that is ostensibly mass-produceable yet materially efficient. The furnishing elements, including the ladder, shelves, desk, sink, etc. are all routed from panels, and many of them are taken from other panels where the material isn’t needed. In addition to making the pieces easily reproducible, the CNC routing allows the space to get away from rectilinear rigidity. Many pre-fab houses rely on that utilitarian aesthetic for practical reasons of assembly, but this is a great way to break away for that (being for students and catching a dorm-room aesthetic helps push that to the extreme).

I’m just learning about CLT, as it’s pretty new to North America, but it’s common in Northern Europe. It consists of glued layers of wood in alternating directions, making the panels (typically 4″ or 6″  x 8′ x 40′) structurally rigid. The panels can then be used in situations where concrete would normally be used. The cross-laminations allow relatively large  punctures to be cut without compromising the structural integrity of the panel. This means a panel can easily be carved on the bed of a router. See StructurLAM for more info.

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The mass-procuction and the pre-fab aspect of a CLT system is alluring for the above reasons. I hope this project inspires other proposals for small, repeatable homes.

One thing I’m trying to figure out: they architects claim the house is extremely efficient, so I assume there’s lots of insulation in the walls. However, my understanding of CLT is that it’s solid, so where is the insulation? Perhaps it’s sandwiched in between two panels? Or is there a veneer on the outside (or inside)?

I also would like to know about the window system and how it’s fitted. These window details look sleek, but I’d imagine for real energy performance, the Swedes would ultimately use some triple-paned system. That would likely be much bulkier.

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One Response

  1. […] housing, combined with a shortage of land, has led to innovative small-house construction (see this project from Sweden too). According to Wikipedia, the demand is so high in larger cities that waiting lists […]

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