Gaia Architects

Innovative and economic timber manufacturing

Econo Project: Brettstapel

Client: The Northern Periphery Project, European Union

Following a successful European Project that identified and demonstrated the innovative use of Roundpole timber for construction, Gaia were part of a research project to develop the findings.

The term Brettstapel was conceived by its Swiss inventor Julius Natterer for an ecologically robust, dowelled and non-glued process of off-site manufactured timber components. The more frequently used term mass timber tends to infer simply log construction and is often neither benign nor able to deliver the performance of the more advanced Brettstapel.


The European Project involved assessment of the Brettstapel industry and downline buildings in Austria, Switzerland and Southern Germany. The underlying intention was to the viability of an industry and buildings in Scotland. A tour of projects in Austria identified the huge potential of the technique to deliver healthy, carbon sponge buildings.


The final presentation of the project was at a seminar in Birnam in 2006. At that time very little had emerged from the project, though Gaia were conceiving housing and schools using the technique. By 2009 interest has mushroomed. The Acharacle school is complete and two other Gaia projects are to be constructed using Brettstapel. Meanwhile three manufacturers are looking seriously at producing basic elements from Scottish timber.


The Acharacle school was pre-fabricated in Austria and transported to Scotland but is still a carbon negative building. Approximately 50,000kg of CO2 was emitted through the transportation of solid timber elements. However, approximately 1,000,000kg CO2 is sequestered in these same timber elements. And it is the UK's first passive school.


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