Digitally planned wood construction

Sixty sustainable apartments are being built on the rooftop of the LOKwerk shopping center in Winterthur. The use of building information modeling (BIM) is helping to shorten the construction time and reduce costs.

April 13, 2022

The potential for densification of this site, with its two-story shopping center, was not to be ignored, especially given the increasing demand for urban living. Adding a structure to the top of the building was the obvious choice.

Building 60 modern apartments on a rooftop in an urban area presented its share of challenges for builder-owner CS REF Green Property.

The shopping center would remain open during construction, and the new structure would have to take into account the roof's uneven load-bearing capacity. With a width of just eight meters, the access road provides only limited space for deliveries. And because of the proximity of residential buildings, construction noise needs to be kept as low as possible.

Because of weight and sustainability concerns, the three-story structure is being built with wood. The lower weight of this material means that the shopping center does not have to be reinforced structurally and can remain open during construction. The meandering design of the residential area is the result of the structure's uneven load-bearing capacity.

"BIM is helping to shorten construction time and reduce costs." Lorenz Weissenberger

Construction Management Project Manager at Erne Holzbau

BIM ensures efficiency and transparency

Erne Holzbau AG, the general contractor for the project, is using BIM to plan the new structure. The 3D models generated using BIM provide all the necessary information about the individual construction elements, eliminating the need for the time-consuming exchange of planning data.

If an architect moves a wall, for example, this affects the entire structure. Using BIM, such a change is immediately visible to everyone involved. The plumber sees on the computer that lines need to be rerouted, the electrician may have to move the cable ducts. The cost planner is sure to see how these changes affect construction costs.

Erne Holzbau is producing the floor elements and walls for the apartments in Laufenburg in the canton of Aargau. Starting in April 2022, the completed components will be transported to the construction site, where a crane will lift them onto the roof in a matter of minutes.

Lorenz Weissenberger, Construction Management Project Manager at Erne Holzbau, summarizes the advantages of BIM this way: "It simplifies and improves the dialogue among all parties. This results in fewer mistakes and shorter construction time," says the 32-year-old. In the case of LOKwerk, this means 14 months of planning and 21 months of work at the construction site.

Weissenberger underscores the importance of BIM beyond planning and construction. Owners should also provide the property manager with access to the building data, which includes, for example, information about maintenance cycles and which components need to be replaced when. This contributes to the economic efficiency of a property. Even at the end of the life cycle, BIM provides clarity – about which materials can be recycled and more.

Digitalisierung als Hauptpriorität von Vermögensverwaltern
Photos: Planned entirely digitally and prefabricated in wood: In the middle of Winterthur, sixty apartments are being built on top of an existing shopping center.

Short distances to the city center

The first tenants will move into the LOKwerk rooftop apartments in mid-2023. The 60 apartments comprise one- to four-room units and are designed with individuals, couples, and seniors in mind. For the latter group, the LOKwerk location is ideal, with short distances to the shopping center, public outdoor spaces, and the Winterthur train station.

As expected for a property fund that invests in sustainable projects, LOKwerk meets Minergie standards and the requirements for the greenproperty quality seal of approval.

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