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The eco-friendly Active House construction of tomorrow is here today

The newly-formed Collaborative Research Centre at Stuttgart University is currently exploring ways to create sustainable and eco-friendly construction for the future.

The aim is to significantly reduce the amount of resources used in the construction industry step by step within just a few years.

“Entirely new types of buildings are being created – our research is entering completely uncharted territory in many areas”, said the renowned architect and engineer Werner Sobek, founder of the Collaborative Research Center.

Sobek also coined the phrase “Triple Zero”, which is a formal description of the characteristics that buildings must have to be sustainable.

Now as the newly-appointed voice and founder of the Collaborative Research Center at Stuttgart University, he predicts a significant reduction in resource consumption in the construction industry over the next few years, particularly in the construction of high-rise buildings and bridges.

The research is focused on adaptive systems that “interact” in a targeted way with building residents and the environment.

“The building environment of tomorrow will be very different from today’s static and passive constructions, featuring interactive rooms and adaptive structures,” Sobek says.

An example of Eco-friendly yet more efficient construction is the “Stuttgart SmartShell”, developed in 2012 and consisting of an ultra-thin wooden shell measuring only 4mm in thickness yet with the ability to span a surface of 100 sqm.

The adaptable supporting structure can react in milliseconds to changes in load thanks to a special control system, resulting in the effective prevention of material fatigue and producing a considerable increase in the performance of supporting structures in high-rise buildings, wide-span façades, bridges or stadium roofs.

The Stuttgart SmartShell follows the B10 Active House designed Sobek which was built in a Stuttgart housing estate in 2014. This completely future-oriented house still serves as an innovation lab, giving visitors impulses for energy self-sufficient, sustainable future living combined with the use of electric vehicles.

“B10 is a prototype designed to show how the Active House principle can be applied to high-density residential city buildings”, explains Sobek.

“Faced with a continual increase in world population and an expected scarcity of resources, we urgently need new methods that will allow us to build more with less – and help us to fully return materials used in construction back to their natural or technical material cycles. This is the guiding principle behind the work of the Collaborative Research Centre,” he says.

An updated version of the B10 prototype is currently under development, and when complete, will be a 10-storey building that will facilitate the analysis of practical applications for adaptive façades and supporting structures.

The B10 build will be completed by November 2017, with the official inauguration scheduled for January 2018.

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