Residential quarters ’Nordlichter III’ in Jena

The residential quarters ‘Nordlichter‘ in Jena with a total of 343 apartments belonging to the Housing Cooperative Carl Zeiss eG fulfills all demands for modern living in every aspect. With ‘Nordlichter III’ a further building section with nine houses was completed in 2021. The 135 apartments are all equipped with a balcony or patio. In cooperation with the landscape architects from ‘plandrei’ from Erfurt, the architectural office Schettler & Partner from Weimar was responsible for planning the project. On the balconies and patios, the upper surface was covered using NATURinFORM’s COMPACT massive deck in the special colour black brown. A total of 750 square metres of this deck from the Bavarian specialist for wood composite materials portfolio was used.

Patio decks
COMPACT in black brown

Type of construction
Balconies and patios

Building owner
Wohnungsgenossenschaft Carl Zeiss eG, Jena

Construction year

Balconies and patios in residential quarters ‘Nordlichter‘ in Jena

Lifelong cooperative living in the ‘Nordlichter’

Under the Housing Cooperative (WG) Carl Zeiss the three ‘Nordlichter’ were created between 2008 and 2021, living quarters designed to be urban yet close to nature. The first cooperatives were founded in Thuringia in 1862 and the WG Carl Zeiss focuses on good, safe, as well as socially responsible residential care for its members. The tenants do not sign a rental contract, but a permanent lease with cooperative protection of the status quo. Due to diverse layouts and apartment sizes, it is possible to reside in the ‘Nordlichter’ for life. There are four- and five-storey buildings around the traffic-free and green courtyards. The mixture of different-sized apartments allows for absolute independence, but at the same time a communal living experience according to the cooperative approach.

Architectural concept: Residential quarters as a combining element

‚The development of the project ‘Nordlichter II’ and its urban structure as an interchanging motive of individual and terraced houses was developed further as an idea of ‘living around a courtyard’, explains Dr. Anke Schettler, partner in the architectural office Schettler & Partner. Compact town houses and stretched out, long buildings in mainly four- and five-storey construction are grouped around a semi-public pathway across connected courtyards. Apartment typologies, apartment sizes and facilities are oriented towards the needs of families.

The courtyards are the combining element of the residential quarters. The outdoor facilities are divided into traffic areas, areas for communal recreational use, as well as private patios and front gardens. When designing the buildings, the quarter ‘Nordlichter II’ was taken into account. The tower blocks I are very plastically shaped, sectioned by parts that stand out and those that recede, such as bay windows, balconies, and patios. The long stretches of terraced houses and the tower blocks II on the other hand have calm and extremely functional facades, structured merely by curtain balconies on the front. Together they form the design background for tower block I, the stone-coloured plaster emphasising their reserved character.

Massive decks from NATURinFORM laid on balconies and patios

’The ’Nordlichter‘ count as one of the largest residential projects built in Thuringia in recent years,’ explains Lutz Saupe. The owner of a traditional roofer company from Hirschfeld near Gera has been working for WG Carl Zeiss for many years. As a flourishing technology site with important companies in the area, it is the town’s task to offer suitable apartments that are also reasonably priced in rent, thinks Lutz Saupe. The ’Nordlichter’ are an extremely good example for high-quality residential building at a fair price. Together with his team Saupe laid NATURinFORM’s massive deck COMPACT on 72 balconies and patios in the summer of 2020.

COMPACT convinces architects and customers

‘We discussed intensely with the architectural office Schettler & Partner that were responsible for the project and a row of renowned producers,’ says Sven Steinhäuser, Project Processor Technology for the WG Carl Zeiss. At the same time those responsible relied on Lutz Saupe’s expertise. In the end NATURinFORM won against the competitors’ products and their COMPACT massive deck in the special colour black brown was chosen.

Special demands regarding the subconstruction

The winning point why COMPACT was chosen was the fact that this material was closest to the requirements regarding its technical and design equivalence to the originally advertised make. In this context the change in subconstruction was also made, as the decks that were used beforehand were WPC profiles in different construction heights in the range. Because they were to be laid on an underlying surface with at least a 2 percent incline and a barrier-free step out onto the patio was required, the different construction heights were implemented using NATURinFORM’s aluminium profiles. The discrepancies in height were up to half a metre in some cases, creating a special challenge for the processors. ‘Not least due to this building situation with these extreme differences in height we as an expert craft company were required,’ says Lutz Saupe. During assembly of the subconstrcution, as well as the laying of the decks the producer’s requirements had to be met exactly to guarantee a permanently functional surface. The height difference that was partially very large between ground level and the connection to the apartments was bridged using concrete slabs in combination with ‘XL’ patio feet, also supplied by NATURinFORM.

Intelligent complete package guarantees a functional surface

The patio feet with a click function were created by NATURinFORM especially for patio subconstructions. They are used to level out uneven underlying surfaces and can be used on any kind of ground. There are different size options which can be adapted to heights from 3.3 to 21.8 centimetres. The patio feet are made of polypropylene and can be adjusted to any height and level automatically. The producer’s complete package contains a patio floor grid made of aluminium; this is used as a drainage grid and if the joint profile tube is used it guarantees good rear ventilation and can be used as a decorative border. It is inserted instead of the first deck directly along the window front thereby also acting as protection from rising water in heavy rain.

After the balconies and patios had been completed Lutz Saupe was very content with his team’s performance. And the customer also came to a positive conclusion. ‘The decks and subconstruction were expertly and professionally processed by the layer,’ says Sven Steinhäuser. ‘It requires good work planning in close cooperation between the layer and the architects to consider all connecting points and interfaces.’

Maintenance-free, weather resistant and (slip)safe

The optical proximity to the material already laid as well as a functioning subconstruction regarding the building challenges were the decisive arguments to complete the task using NATURinFORM’s system consisting of subconstruction and decks in Jena. At the same time aspects such as no necessity for maintenance work, durability, weather resistance and especially slip resistance were factors that spoke for the decks from the Bavarian specialist for wood composite material’s range. With its finely striated surface R12, one of the highest levels of slip resistance is guaranteed, the block strip surface is even higher, the highest level R13.

Expert for sustainable outdoor surfaces

NATURinFORM specialises in intelligent solutions for outdoor surfaces and profiles. In the factory in Upper Franconian Redwitz an der Rodach the wood composite material is produced: a material that combines the optical features of traditional building timber with the durability of a technical polymer. During production wood fibres are combined with an environmentally friendly pure thermoplastic polymer in such a way that it covers each individual fibre like a protective coat. As the polymer itself is completely water repellant it is not possible for water to permeate the finished product – yet it retains the optical and thermal characteristics of wood. A big advantage for surfaces around damp and wet surroundings: the material neither swells nor rots and does not splinter or become slippery either. Especially communities and public investors that are now more and more on the lookout for sustainable products in their calls for tenders prefer NATURinFORM.

Climate neutral production and resource conservation

Climate protection and resource conservation are highest priority for the producer. For the wood composite materials certified as climate-neutrally produced the Franconian company only uses wood fibres from domestic and sustainable forestry (PEFC certified wood suppliers). This means that no additional trees are felled, the wood fibres are a side product of the woodworking industry. All products are also 100 percent recyclable, after the decks have been used, they are taken back by the company after they have been tested and are re-fed into the production process.

There are environmental product declarations according to international standards available (EPDs) for all of NATURinFORM’s decks and façade profiles. All products are continuously monitored by quality controls and stress tests, to guarantee a constant perfect and first-class wood composite quality. The patio decks can be recycled 100 percent and can be returned to the plant in Bavarian Redwitz for recycling.

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