The Waldsee BioHaus is part of a larger effort by the Language Villages and Germany's Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt, Europe's largest environmental foundation, to create a "Transatlantic Green Bridge" between Germany and the United States. The BioHaus promotes a dialogue and exchange of sustainable building components and technologies as well as encourages cooperative work on the development of innovative educational curricula on the subject of sustainability with emphasis on sustainable building.
Designed by Stephan Tanner, architect with Intep, LLC, the Minneapolis-based architectural and consulting company specializing in high-performance and sustainable construction, Waldsee BioHaus is a cutting-edge environmental learning center. In tune with the Language Villages’ immersion learning philosophy, this project is based upon the German Passivhaus standards for efficient energy use. The building’s design facilitates language learning alongside environmental living.
The architectural design concept for the BioHaus is a compact, well functioning and beautiful structure. Built on an east-facing slope, the cubical building has two different structural elements. The base and back of the building, containing the dormitory and bedroom areas, are built with heavier materials. The front of the building containing the common, shared spaces is built with lighter materials and faces south for solar access. These two elements are reflected in the exterior wall techniques employed in the construction. The walls of the base element are constructed of traditional insulating materials and are juxtaposed to a wall system constructed with the latest thermal protection technology such as vacuum insulation. The design reveals new technologies through transparent siding material so villagers and students can learn about the green building materials.
As an environmental living center, the BioHaus showcases cutting edge approaches to energy conservation and innovations in sustainable building design. Features of this design include a Passivhaus standard building envelope, an extensive green roof, low impact and healthy building materials, simple building technology, use of alternative energy resources and low energy use appliances and equipment.
To learn more about the Waldsee BioHaus or to read the construction journal, please visit its dedicated Web site.
The Waldsee BioHaus was funded in part by a grant from the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU), with a design planning grant from the Kresge Foundation in Detroit, Michigan.