Lesena modularna gradnja / Modular Timber Housing: Q&A

Odgovori v slovenščini na dnu.



Chapter Competition brief: 1. Panel system

For separate sanitary facilities, we refer to the standards for the physically handicapped. The standard is given as an indication only and the decision is left to the competitors. This standard does not have to be taken into account in the case of different conceptual designs.

Chapter Materials and technology

Width is usually of particular importance for ceiling elements, which are usually (but not necessarily) transported lying down and are consequently limited by the width of the trailer.



1. What are you considering as a joint? Since it’s one of the most economical things to work in a CNC machine to get a quicker and cheaper final result.

As stated in the competition brief, the technology of the joint is not the subject of the assignment and will therefore not be the subject of the evaluation process. Regardless, when deriving the overall system, one should keep in mind the joints should allow for quick and simple connecting of elements. The use of CNC and other robotics can be employed for their manufacturing and assembly. Nevertheless, their load bearing properties as well as behaviour during nonlinear loading (i.e. seismic events) will need to be sufficient for design of appropriately large buildings.

2. What about panel size, is it a plain size such as 1.22 x 2.44m? Since the truck variable measure at the brief (1.25 up to 13.5 m x up to 2.95 m x 2.45m) doesn’t give a clue of each panel’s regular size.

The panel size decision is left to the competitors, the only requirement is to comply with the measurement constraints of regular road transport that you cited.

3. How about the panel system, must it use the very same solution of pattern/combination to both walls and floor and ceiling or could it change for each surface?

The wall and ceiling concept should enable easy assembly with wall elements. If the suggested system will allow so, a full pattern combination is not an absolute must. Nevertheless, a certain degree of compatibility will most likely be necessary.

4. Could you please explain what you consider a skeletal or a solid construction?

“Skeletal” or “skeleton frame”: a light timber frame system (also called “stick-frame” in the USA) or a post and beam system.
“Solid”: a massive wall construction system, such as CLT or LVL walls (also called “mass timber” in the USA). Glulam walls are not advised due to potential deformation issues.



1. Do independent modules (sanitary units, living rooms) have to be the same in all “residential spaces” or can there be minor variations between them?

The independent spatial modules inside the apartments are only sanitary units, while the rest of the spaces are solved with a minimum (the smallest) number of modular wall panels – i.e. planar, not spatial elements.

2. How many different modular units can be used?

The limit of 5 to 12 wall panels is representative. As stated in the competition brief, the goal is “to achieve as much architectural and typological diversity as possible, with as few different wall panels as possible (from 5 to a maximum of 12)”. There can thus be more or less panels, but the rule of thumb is “the less the better”. At the same time, independent (spatial) modules are also allowed: sanitary facilities, vertical communications, balconies, terraces.

3. Do the type pillars have a predetermined geometry and their external appearance? Is one component limited to a floor or to the entire building?

We leave it up to the contestants to decide on the type of columns, but they must match the set of panels. One component is limited to the entire building.

4. In the beginning, there is talk of modular panels, and later of independent modules, which would need special panels to perform their specific function.

Could it be:

  • already completely prefabricated modules
  • combinations of special panels + basic panels

Do the “specific” panels for these standalone modules also count towards the finite number of different modules?

For an answer about specific modules, see also answers B/1 and B/2; independent modules are therefore sanitary, vertical communications, etc. To build these modules, we do not necessarily need elements from the basic set of panels (they are not part of the set of 5–12 panels), but it is not forbidden to use them. We leave the decision to the contestants, both options are possible.

5. What do you define as a width of 2.45 m?

“Width” equals “Length 3”; the dimensions of the regular cube interior of a standard trailer could also be called “a”, “b” and “c”. The only condition is that your panels and special (spatial) modules can be placed inside the indicated cube. The width of the trailer is usually important especially for ceiling elements, which are usually (but not necessarily) transported lying down and are consequently limited by the width of the trailer.



Could you please explain how do you understand the term three bedroom in English language? Is it a bedroom flat which has in fact three rooms in total like e.g. in Germany or do you mean three bedrooms + an additional room which the lounge as people in the US/UK/Canada/Australia understand it?

What is meant is three rooms in total (the “German” system); that’s why we also listed the number of inhabitants (“a family with one child”) implying the number of the rooms (master bedroom, bedroom larger than 8 m², “living room”). For example, two-bedroom apartment is defined as one bedroom, “living room”, kitchen, hallway and bathroom.



1. Competition brief: 2. Basic housing units

What exactly is a two-bedroom apartment? Is it an apartment with one bedroom and one living room or is it an apartment with two bedrooms without a living room? Just like in case of three-bedroom apartment (a family with one child): do parents have separate bedrooms or is there just 2 bedrooms and a living room?

This question is about all types of housing units.

A living room is also counted as a “room” (the “German” system); therefore, we imply that parents share a master bedroom.  A room is a space of at least 8 m² that is used for living and/or sleeping (a master bedroom, room larger than 8 m² and a living room). If a flat has an additional room smaller than 8 m², it is considered as half of a room. Additional spaces include a kitchen, hallway, bathroom, toilet …

2. Materials and technology:

“In addition to the wall elements, standard columns (one component) and beams (as many different lengths as the basic wall lengths) are allowed to enable competitors to provide larger open spaces.”

Are components of standard columns considered as components of wall panels and is the quantity of it counted?

No; the quantity of (one) standard column should be counted separately to the total of wall panels.

3. Materials and technology:

“The panels are manufactured in the factory and assembled on site. The dimensions of the panels must therefore meet the standards of regular road transport, which is limited by the following dimensions:
Length 1: from 1.25 m to 13.5 m
Length 2 (height): up to 2.95 m
Width: 2.45 m“

What is counted as “width“? If there’s 3 dimensions of the panels and “Length 1“ is length, “Length 2 (height)“ is height, then what is “Width“? Is it the thickness of the panel? Then how could it be 2.45 m?

Listed are the dimensions of a regular rectangular volume of the interior of a standard trailer, which could also be called “a”, “b” and “c”. “Width” therefore equals “Length 3” (or “c”). The only condition is that your panels and special (space) modules can fit inside that cube. The trailer width is usually governing the width of the ceiling panels which are commonly (but not necessarily) transported in a horizontal position.

4. Materials and technology:

“The technology of the joint is not the subject of the assignment. Any angle between the two walls is possible, but the recommended angles are 45° and 30°.”

If the rooms are rectangular then how can the angle between two walls be 45° and 30°?

Correct; what is meant is the “additional, i.e. non-rectangular angles”. Therefore, we could re-formulate the condition as “Any angle between the two walls is possible, but the recommended angles, if other than 90°, are 45° and 30°.”

5. Submission material:

“Sheet 2: Modular panels. Concept of building blocks – panels
View of each panel, scale 1:100, annotated with angles.”

If you say “annotated with angles”, you mean the angles could be not 90°, therefore the panels aren’t obligatory rectangular?

Exactly – the brief doesn’t restrict the geometry of the proposals in terms of angularity.



1. Should some of the panels be load-bearing or is it possible to plan an additional timber structure that will represent the primary structure, while the panels serve as space defining elements?

As stated in the competition brief (ch. Materials and technology): “The use of skeletal or solid construction (or a hybrid of both) is allowed. The choice must be technically and financially viable.” In principle, therefore, the additional timber structure is a possible solution, but you would need to justify your decision in terms of cost-efficiency and technology.

2. You mentioned that the building should be G+3 in height, however is it possible for some parts of it to be lower to create the cascade effect? Should the building be continuously G+3?

Certainly, we are looking for architectural designs that are at once effective and innovative, proving the versatility of the system proposed. As further stated in the brief: “We are interested in original typological ideas that can influence ways of living together in the society of the future.” Cascading is therefore possible; however, it also needs to satisfy the engineering demands.

3. In connection with the previous question, is it possible to add another floor just for the staircase/elevators, so that the roof be used as a walking terrace?

Yes – the access communications will not be counted as another floor. However, as stated in the ch. Materials and technology, “contestants are asked to provide a flat roof, which may be walk-on, but is not subject to evaluation.



Is the intention for the modular panels to be designed for structural loading or can we propose a structural frame (possibly in laminated Timber) for the panels to be attached to as an integrated system? 

See answer E/1.



Do all apartments have to comply with the restrictions for people with reduced mobility?

The standard for people with reduced mobility is given as an indication only and it is up to the competitors to decide. In the case of different conceptual designs, this standard does not have to be taken into account.


Odgovori na vprašanja v slovenščini:



Pogl. Natečajna naloga: 1. Panelni sistem

Pri ločenih sanitarnih prostorih navajamo standarde za gibalno ovirane osebe. Standard je podan zgolj okvirno, odločitev pa je prepuščena natečajnikom. Ob drugačnih idejnih zasnovah tega standarda ni potrebno upoštevati.

Pogl. Materiali in tehnologija

Širina je po navadi pomembna predvsem za stropne elemente, ki se navadno (ne pa obvezno) transportirajo leže in so posledično omejeni s širino priklopnika.



1. Ali morajo biti samostojni moduli (sanitarne enote, dnevni prostori) po vseh »stanovanjskih prostorih« enaki ali so lahko manjše variacije med njimi?

Samostojni prostorski moduli znotraj stanovanj so samo sanitarne enote, medtem ko se ostale prostore rešuje z minimalnim (kar najmanjšim) številom modularnih stenskih panelov – torej ploskovnih, ne prostorskih elementov.

2. Koliko različnih modularnih enot je lahko uporabljenih?

Omejitev 5 do 12 stenskih panelov je reprezentativna. Kot piše v natečajni nalogi, je cilj »s čim manj različnimi stenskimi paneli (5 do največ 12) doseči kar največjo arhitekturno in tipološko raznolikost«. Torej je lahko panelov več ali manj, vendar velja pravilo »čim manj, tem bolje«. Ob tem so dovoljeni še samostojni (prostorski) moduli: sanitarni prostori, vertikalne komunikacije, balkoni, terase.

3. Ali imajo tipski stebri v naprej določeno geometrijo in svojo zunanjo podobo? Ena komponenta je omejena na nadstropje ali na celotno zgradbo?

Odločitev glede tipskih stebrov prepuščamo natečajnikom, vendar morajo ustrezati naboru panelov. Ena komponenta je omejena na celotno zgradbo.

4. Na začetku je govora o modularnih panelih, kasneje pa o samostojnih modulih, ki bi potrebovali posebne panele, za opravljanje svoje specifične funkcije.
Ali so to lahko:

  • že v celoti prefabricirani moduli
  • kombinacije posebnih panelov + osnovnih panelov

Se tudi »specifični« paneli za te samostojne module štejejo pod končno število različnih modulov?

Za odgovor o specifičnih modulih glejte tudi odgovora B/1 in B/2; samostojni moduli so torej sanitarni, vertikalne komunikacije itd. Za sestavo teh modulov ne potrebujemo nujno elementov iz osnovnega nabora panelov (ne štejejo se v nabor 5–12 panelov), ni pa jih prepovedano uporabiti. Odločitev prepuščamo natečajnikom, možni sta obe varianti.

5. Kaj definirate kot širino 2,45 m?

»Širina« je enako »dolžina 3«; dimenzije pravilnega kubusa notranjosti standardnega priklopnika bi lahko poimenovali tudi »a«, »b« in »c«. Edini pogoj je, da se vaši paneli in posebni (prostorski) moduli lahko umestijo znotraj navedenega kubusa. Širina priklopnika je po navadi pomembna predvsem za stropne elemente, ki se navadno (ne pa obvezno) transportirajo leže in so posledično omejeni s širino priklopnika.



Ali morajo vsa stanovanja upoštevati omejitve za gibalno ovirane osebe?

Standard za gibalno ovirane osebe je podan zgolj okvirno, odločitev pa je prepuščena natečajnikom. Ob drugačnih idejnih zasnovah tega standarda ni potrebno upoštevati.

4 Responses

  1. My team has some questions about the Modular Timber Housing competition.
    As stated in the brief, the number of dwellings is left to the competitor, but an equal number of dwellings for each kind of unit is required (a difference of up to ±1 unit is allowed).
    Is this rule applied to all buildings in the area or for each building only. For example, if we build a total of 3 buildings in the site, each has 3 studio apartments, 4 two-bedroom apartments, 3 three-bedroom apartments, 3 four bedroom apartments and 2 duplex apartments, is this allowed or not?

    1. Thank you for your question. The short answer is “yes”. As stated in chapter 3 “Building typology and spatial application”, the competitors are expected to design 1 (one) multi-apartment building. If you nevertheless choose to propose a complex of 3 buildings, you should comply with the rules as you have indicated in your question.

  2. Respected,

    Is the area of the terrace included in the square footage of the apartments? You did not mention that in the competition announcement.

    1. Thank you for your question. Area of the terrace or balcony is not included in the square footage of the apartments.

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