Rotterdam-based architecture firm AEMSEN has recently unveiled BARBIZON, a design proposal for sustainable apartments built from prefabricated, cross-laminated timber modules. Created with the vision that cities need healthy buildings, BARBIZON’s timber construction would be integrated with shared green spaces to encourage neighborly relations and to offset the urban heat island effect. The concept was originally developed for Barbizonlaan in Capelle aan den IJssel; however, the flexible design could be applied in other parts of the world as well.

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rendering of trees growing on building made of several wood cube volumes

Energy efficiency, reduced building waste and sequestered carbon are among the many advantages of prefabricated, cross-laminated timber construction. AEMSEN’s BARBIZON proposal would comprise stackable and interchangeable CLT modules that combine to create 112 gas-free and bio-based apartments. The design includes 16 different housing types that vary in size from 45 square meters to 120 square meters to accommodate a variety of residents.

Related: Wedge-shaped Sideyard champions CLT construction

multistory building made from stacked wood cube volumes

“By modular design and building with prefabricated CLT modules, the balance between city and nature can be brought back,” Jasper Jägers of AEMSEN said in a press release, noting the fireproof and lightweight qualities of CLT. “Energy-neutral, modular and circular construction with wood really is the future. It is lighter than traditional construction, it has good insulating properties and it provides much less nitrogen emissions. It makes sustainability and circularity accessible to everyone.”

rendering of elongated wood building

To promote sustainable living practices, BARBIZON developments would be integrated with green roofs and urban farming initiatives along the roofs and terraces. The shared green spaces — known as a “green valley” — would be accessible to all residents to help build a sense of community while providing habitat for local flora and fauna to boost biodiversity, thus bringing back a “balance between city and nature.” Photovoltaic systems could also be installed on top of the building to generate renewable energy.


Images via AEMSEN