Despite development planning and building regulations, the settlement area in Switzerland is continuously expanding, seemingly unchecked. About 70% of the Swiss population now lives in urban agglomerations. Additionally, the average living area per person is constantly rising and has increased by 10 m2 between the year 1980 and 2000 to reach 44m2, according to the Federal Statistical Office. The projected population growth requires that the discipline of architecture develop and publicize new approaches for densified residential construction.

Timber, as a renewable material, appears to be outstandingly well suited for building in a sustainable and resource-efficient manner. Large town fires in earlier times, however, lead to very restrictive fire protection regulations and wood as a material was banned from urban areas. Many years of research as well as intensive collaboration between private companies and higher education institutions and research institutes have lead to the development of verifiable solutions for fire protection. In 2005, the Swiss fire protection regulations were adapted and timber buildings up to six storeys were again allowed. Ever since, there has been renewed interest in wood as a material in densified residential construction and timber is currently undergoing a renaissance.

Professor – Pascal Muller

University – Bern University of Applied Sciences

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