40 502 Low-rise high-density prefabricated timber housing


Completed basic education / admitted to master level.

Recommended prerequisite knowledge

It is not mandatory, but an advantage to have attended a timber course of the WoodBeBetter series. The students should be able to develop and communicate their concepts and projects by hand sketching, model building and using digital tools for architectural drawing.

It is an advantage to have worked with a housing project before, and to know about general requirements for room sizes, functions, and outdoor areas. We are not going to question or reconsider basic needs a home has to satisfy, but to experiment with established requirements.

Course content

As Oslo’s urban planning for the coming decades is based on densification, a broader range of typologies than traditional blocks of flats and single-family houses needs to be considered. Low-rise high-density housing with 3 to 4 floors could fill this gap and will be the topic of this course. In the context of increasing focus on a building’s environmental impact, timber as a construction material is of great relevance. Additionally, new building codes and updated production methods enable an extended use of timber in urban areas. We are going to explore the opportunities that prefabricated timber solutions can offer to low-rise high-density housing. The project development will span from a conceptual approach via an urban strategy to an architectural project with technical solutions and key details.
Collaboration with OBOS, lectures by various experts and reviews by recognized architects will contribute to the learning results and to a practice-oriented framework in the studio. Input from ongoing academic research will be included, and elements of the students’ work might feed back into an on-going PhD thesis.

End results will include a detailed presentation of each project in drawings, models and text, and a catalogue showing the full range of experimental studies and research.

Learning outcomes

There will be a focus on identifying important criteria for the concept development, on the clear articulation of a concept in words, drawings and models, and finally on the synthesis of several aspects into a full project on a real site. The students will also learn to negotiate and discuss their concepts and projects with a potential client and an acknowledged architect.

a. Knowledge: Basic knowledge about low-rise high-density housing and specific knowledge related to timber as a building material, especially in an industrial context.
b. Skills: To develop concepts and solutions for low-rise high-density housing in prefabricated timber and to communicate these via drawings, models and text. 

c. General competence: To turn knowledge into a specific solution. To transfer conceptual ideas into a realistic project with a distinct program and site.

Working and learning activities

Lectures, studio project work with group meetings and individual tutoring. Groups of 2 - 3 max. in the pre-projects, individual work or groups of max. 2 for the full projects. Collaboration with OBOS: initial lecture about how they work, then guest critique. External examiner.
Lectures by experts on wood in general, timber construction, issues related to fire and acoustics, the building envelope, examples of low-rise high-density, housing.

Work effort.
Presence at lectures is mandatory. Participation in individual tutoring is mandatory. Its amount and character may be adapted to student needs. Participation in workshops and reviews / critiques is mandatory for passing the course. Development, delivery, plenary presentation and critique of project task are mandatory for passing the course.

Students are expected to use the workshop if necessary for their working models, and for the production of final models.

Professor in charge

Marius Nygaard and Ute Groba