Innovative Wood Construction System made of Sengon Lightweight Timber for Subtropical Climates has Passed KIT Tests

Sengon (Paraserianthes Falcataria) is an extraordinary tree species. It grows incredibly fast, can be planted on degraded soils and has material properties that lend themselves well to engineered timber products. The combination of reforestation and timber construction is one of the most promising approaches to combat climate change.

Fairventures Worldwide has partnered with Löffler_Schmeling architects and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) to pilot lightweight timber construction based on wood from forested areas. The project is funded by the German Federal Environment Foundation (DBU).

Andreas Löffler, who is  professor of architecture, couldn’t let go of the idea of developing sustainable houses for the use in tropical countries made with locally available materials. His Karlsruher office Löffler_Schmeling Architekten aims for climate-friendly architecture and a simple, ecological use of materials.

Indonesia was selected as the site of the pilot, as it has readily available materials and a climate favourable to grow trees. The country has also been experiencing a steady increase in construction activity for years, with the use of energy-intensive products made of concrete, aluminum and steel on a large scale, as Andreas Löffler explains. This means that neither construction methods nor materials meet the climatic, ecological and hygienic requirements. Moreover, these materials are expensive.  

“Against this background, we have made it our research task to develop a complete construction system from light-wood multilayer panels,” explains Löffler. This should be easy to join and easy to transport. It should adapt the traditional construction method in a contemporary way and thus meet the climatic conditions of the rainy, humid and warm climate zone.  

Since it was not clear whether Sengon Lightweight Timber is stable enough, experts at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) subjected the glued lightwood panels to various load tests over the past weeks. They were pulled and pressed – with excellent results. Based on these results, Fairventures and Löffler_Schmeling will now construct a pilot building in Indonesia. The results of the pilot will be published here as well.