Multi-storey Mass Timber

Wood Office Building


The project is the result of an invited competition that called for the refurbishing of, and addition to the administrative and logistical headquarters of the wood-building company Damiani Holz&Ko located in the light industrial zone of Bressanone along the Isarco River.

The competition brief outlined the need for a structure that embodied not only the company’s activity but also the company’s philosophy; the company designs and develops building systems in wood and pursues the use of environmentally conscientious wood-building products and techniques. As a result, the addition uses multiple construction systems in wood and showcases the use of ‘raw’, industry-grade wood as a finished material in many different forms.

The building is a compact, wooden monolith resting upon a black concrete base.  The façade is a vertically oriented wooden brise-soleil that is punctuated by the three large apertures of the main entrance, and the two large windows on the upper floor.  The irregular, jagged outlines of the wooden slats pull together the draping second skin in an undulating rhythm that wavers between an impenetrable, solid construction to then dematerialize into a light and airy volume depending on one’s vantage point.  This double reading and binary use of wood as heavy and light, robust and delicate, static and dynamic accompanied the design process in both its architectural and technical conception.

Moreover, the inherent dependency between the concrete base and the wooden building is also played-out in the technical and tactile symbiosis of concrete and wood.  For example, the inherent repercussions of conceiving wood as a prefabricated product is mirrored in the design approach to the prefabricated, sandwich concrete paneled walls of the underground functions of the garage and service spaces.  Similarly, the form-work used for the cast concrete of the base encode in the surface of the concrete the grain and type of the wooden formwork: OSB, wooden studs of varying dimensions, and sanded 3-ply panels.

The office addition is a five-storey building with two entrances split between the upper entry for visitors from the street side and the lower entry located in proximity to the production facilities and stockpile yard of the company.  The underground level houses a parking structure for 40 cars and a series of service and mechanical spaces while the ground level houses the commercial (purchasing and sales) department.

The entrance from the street gives onto a small reception area from which visitors access the design and engineering offices of the company that connects to the existing building with a glass pavilion housing the informal meeting point for the employees.  Administrative offices are found on the first floor followed by the open seminar and event-space of the top floor.

The wooden structure is comprised of two load-bearing wall systems:  a perimeter, light-frame construction and two cross-laminated timber structural cores (the central service spaces core and the stair and elevator core) that rise from the concrete base at the lower ground level 3 floors to the wooden roof.  The various floor constructions are characterized by one or more structural solutions, showcasing not only the versatility of wood engineering, but also the very malleability of wood itself.  All elements used in the flooring systems are strictly structural.

The structural concrete floor slabs are finished with a polished concrete floor while the wood floor systems are finished with a wooden subflooring and a naturally stained solid oak flooring.  Both the pre-fabricated concrete panels and the poured concrete remain exposed while the perimeter stud-walls are finished with the 3-ply sanded formwork panels painted white.  All the furniture was custom designed and built with the exception of the chairs with a careful chromatic study of the various surfaces.

Among various energy design strategies, the project uses a biomass heating and cooling system whereby energy production exceeds energy consumption and a mechanical ventilation system with a high coefficient of “recycled” heat.

The project obtained the highest category of energy efficiency awarded by the local green building council with the CasaClima Gold title along with the stringent certification of Casaclima Nature for the use of ecological materials and renewable energy sources.  The building has also been awarded the CasaClima Work&Life certification for sustainable workplaces.


Bressanone (BZ), 2013




Project Team

Sandy Attia, Matteo Scagnol, Angela Ferrari, Volkmar Schultz