Apolda, Timber Prototype House

Apolda, Timber Prototype House

Solid timber experimental prototype: Parametric design and digital fabrication

“Digital methods have the potential to unlock the climate-neutral resources of the Thüringer Wald for the future. Robotics can turn wood resources into custom-produced, optimised forms, transforming a regional tradition into a high-tech industry and traditional landscapes into new, beautiful architecture.”
Prof. AndreasWolf, former member of the IBA Thüringen Advisory Board

Together with the teams led by Prof. Achim Menges at the University of Stuttgart and Hans Drexler at the Jade University of Applied Sciences Oldenburg, the IBA Thuringia has completed a small but compelling experimental building in the grounds of the Eiermannbau in Apolda. The Timber Prototype House has been constructed using wood sourced from the region and processed using the latest technological design and fabrication methods. The approx. 15m² solid timber construction was designed to trial the practical feasibility of this construction method.

The entrance to the Timber Prototype House has a generous glass front. Its novel vertical laminar structure made it possible to produce a free-form structure.

The Timber Prototype House in front of the Eiermannbau. Designed as an example of innovative building culture “Made in Thuringia”, the model building can serve many purposes, e.g. as an exhibition space or meeting room.

The continuous computer-based design and fabrication process makes it possible to gently vary the orientation of walls and ceilings to optimise the ratio of floor space to envelope and to achieve a more dynamic architectural expression.

The Timber Prototype House demonstrates the potential of using advanced digital design tools and fabrication technologies to make optimum use of wood as a regionally abundant building material. The construction concept takes traditional log construction as its starting point and develops it in a new direction. The result is a solid timber construction method comprised of vertically oriented timber elements that can be arranged freely. Digital fabrication makes it possible to optimise the insulation capacity of the structural element and to realise high-precision joints and connections. These joints are articulated in such a way that no metal joining components or adhesives are required. The resulting mono-material elements serve as structure, skin and insulation in one and can be used to create environmentally friendly and economical building envelopes that are also architecturally expressive.

As an example of building culture “Made in Thuringia”, the Timber Prototype house can serve as a model for a variety of building projects in Thuringia.

The insertion of the glass front plane rounds off the construction of the Timber Prototype House. The building was first presented to the public as part of the IBA interim presentation “StadtLand” in May 2019.

The R&D project for the highly insulated solid timber construction was realised as part of the federal government’s BBSR ZukunftBau research initiative with additional funding and support from ThüringenForst and Rettenmeier Holding AG.


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Tobias Haag
Project director
Phone +49 3643 5831-67