the IBA timber prototype house is a ‘log cabin turned on its side’

the ICD institute for computational design has built a prototypical timber house that offers a new take on micro-architecture. described as a log cabin turned on its side, the ‘IBA timber prototype house’ combines the benefits of traditional low-cost timber construction with advances in computational design and fabrication technologies. according to the design team, the project explores a novel solid timber building system to economically create environmentally sound, architecturally expressive, mono-material building envelopes.

IBA timber prototype house
all images © IBA thueringen, thomas mueller



in contrast to the horizontal stacking of typical log construction, the ICD has here arranged the solid timber elements as staggered upright frames. thus the vertical elements are oriented in the strong direction of the wood which allows for sawing slits in the solid timber without comprising its structural capacity. these thin slits serve as stress-relief cuts, which prevent the solid timber from splitting.

IBA timber prototype house



in turn, this ensures dimensional stability and airtightness, both significant issues in traditional log construction. at the same time, the slits are utilized as dead-air chambers, reducing thermal conductivity and increasing the insulation values of the material. digital fabrication is employed to produce high-precision, airtight joints for connecting the timber elements without the need for any metal fasteners or adhesives.

IBA timber prototype house



the resulting, highly sustainable, mono-material building system acts as structure, enclosure and insulation, achieving compliance with stringent german energy saving standards. the fully integrated computational design and fabrication approach allows for gently twisting and curving walls and ceilings. they not only offer the possibility to maximize the ratio between available space and envelope surface, but also intensify the architectural experience of this unique micro-house.

IBA timber prototype house



the timber prototype house is part of the international building exhibition (IBA) thueringen and is on show now following the opening on may 24, 2019 in apolda, thueringen. read more about the project here.

IBA timber prototype house

IBA timber prototype house

IBA timber prototype house



project info:


name: IBA timber prototype house —
log cabin digital – international building exhbition (IBA) thueringen, germany 2019


project team:
ICD institute for computational design

prof. a. menges (PI), oliver bucklin, oliver david krieg, victor rodriguez


jade hochschule oldenburg

hans drexler, marie deilmann, geronimo bujny, anna bulavintseva


internationale bauausstellung: thueringen

dr. marta doehler-behzadi, tobias haag


project funding:
bundesinstitut für bau-, stadt- und raumforschung
forschungsinitiative zukunft bau


main sponsors:
rettenmeier holding AG


co-operation and industry partners:
klima und umweltlabel holz von hier, 
georg ackermann GmbH, 
universal holzbau GmbH, glaskontor erfurt GmbH, bauhaus-universität weimar
, ingenieurbüro matthias münz
, nils holger moormann GmbH, 
hofmann+löffler creativeinrichtungen GmbH, stadt apolda

philip stevens I designboom

jun 02, 2019

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