Thinking sustainably about school construction

An expert project of Holzbau Brockhaus GmbH

Pfleiderer in conversation with Mr. Andre Brockhaus

Pfleiderer: Mr. Brockhaus, what made you decide to build a school in wood?

Andre Brockhaus: The concept originally came from Baumgarten GmbH in Ebersburg in Hesse. Here, a modular system was developed to provide an interim solution of the required size for school refurbishments with comparatively little effort. The system can be completely dismantled so that it can then be moved to the next site in the desired configuration. This enables municipalities to make the refurbishment of their school sites more flexible in the long term. Starting in 2016, we cooperated with Baumgarten, especially in terms of capacity utilization and assembly. Since then, we have modified the system on our own and further developed it according to our requirements.


Pfleiderer: But you didn't build a temporary facility in Braunschweig, did you?

Andre Brockhaus: The original plan was for an interim solution. But in the meantime, another building was added in 2022 to the one completed in 2020 in 2022. In the first phase, 11 classrooms, a staff room, the all-day area and one WC facility per floor were built on a total of 3 floors. The second phase of construction consists of 9 more classrooms.

Pfleiderer: And you used the same company for both phases?

Andre Brockhaus: Both construction phases were, of course, put out to tender - and, interestingly, were planned by different architects. After we were successful in the first bid for the concept by architekten from Darmstadt, the city of Braunschweig opted for a local partner for the second phase. But we were also able to convince with our system in the design by Sabi Architekten.

Pfleiderer: What exactly distinguishes the construction method of the Neue Oberschule Braunschweig?

Andre Brockhaus: The base is a strip foundation of concrete, on which we build the floor slab of the building with cement-bonded particleboard. Thus, the structure is protected from moisture. On top of it, the walls are erected in wooden panel construction, with external insulation board, insulation and curtain wall. The interior walls are constructed as two single-sided elements in timber frame construction, which are mirrored - i.e. back to back - to form the walls.

Pfleiderer: So far, it sounds rather ordinary at first. What is the special feature of the project?

Andre Brockhaus: Quite clearly: in the floor elements. We work with components that are fastened to the wall structure with wooden dowels. This means we can do without glue and the construction is both more sustainable and - if necessary - completely deconstructible. The elements are xx mm long, yy cm wide and 497 mm thick. They are built ready for assembly at our plant and transported to the construction site as a whole. Quite a challenge with a weight of 3 to 4 tons per element - but the advantages outweigh them.

Pfleiderer: Can you please elaborate on that?

Andre Brockhaus:Construction is always time-critical - this is particularly true for school construction. Thanks to prefabrication, we were able to reduce the time from laying the foundation stone to occupying the building at the Braunschweig school to around 5 months. The topping-out time in operation was around 4 months. Added to this is the particularly sustainable construction method. By dispensing with adhesives and using appropriately suited materials, our system easily complies with the specified VOC guideline values. The quality of the materials used and the self-contained design of the elements also contribute to this. For example, we use LivingBoard P5 in 13 mm thickness for the top closure. The board combines excellent emission values with very good structural-physical properties that support the stability and stiffening of the structure. In addition, it is very useful for us that the final floor covering can be glued directly onto the even surface.

Pfleiderer: Classrooms are used intensively in parallel. What about sound insulation?

Andre Brockhaus: In addition to impact sound insulation, the floor elements have 50 mm split fill, which increases the dead weight and significantly reduces structure-borne noise. The areas between the load-bearing beams are also insulated with cellulose. Overall, the elements are designed as floating systems; screws are used only for transportation to fix them in place. On-site assembly is carried out in such a way that the elements are laid flush on the load-bearing walls on the respective long sides and are only secured against horizontal movement by studs. The walls of the next floor are then installed over the seams. This results in an extremely stable construction that is easy to dismantle.

Pfleiderer: Are you surprised that the buildings are now in permanent use?

Andre Brockhaus: In any case, our solution can still be dismantled if necessary. I am not in a position to say what is the decisive factor for permanent use in a specific case. In any case, in addition to the deconstruction capability, the benefits are still time savings, outstanding quality and sustainability. In our experience, even the price is not a particularly critical aspect in view of these advantages - even with public-sector clients such as in school construction. This explains why we were able to convince with our offer in no less than two construction phases with changing architects.

Pfleiderer: Mr. Brockhaus, thank you for the interview!

Profile Andre Brockhaus

ProfessionWoodworker & General Manager
MottoPrecision in wood!

The facts about the project

ProjectNew Secondary School Braunschweig
Mendelssohnstraße 9
38110 Braunschweig

LivingBoard face contiprotect P5, 12 mm

Application area:Special structure floor (2-ply)
Architect: architekten GbR
Rheinstraße 99.4
64295 Darmstadt
Tel: 06151 81 2970


Sabi Architekten GmbH 
Ölschlägern 29
38100 Braunschweig
Tel: 0531 2257317

Execution:Holzbau Brockhaus GmbH
Auf dem Hövel 36
49413 Dinklage
Builder :Stadt Braunschweig, Hochbau- u. Gebäudemanagement
Completion:Phase 1: 2020
Phase 2: 2022

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