UBM literally tops out at Timber Praha

Published: 29. 09. 2023

UBM Development Czechia has topped out its wooden apartment building project Timber Praha, which forms the third phase of Arcus City in Prague – Řeporyje. Since Czech consumers aren’t used to wooden buildings, UBM’s director Josef Wiedermann invited journalists out to see the 62 new flats for themselves. Ranging in size from 39 sqm to 110 sqm, the flats should be comparable in price to those in the project’s second phase, built in the classic style with steel and concrete.

The buildings themselves will be just 3 to 4 stories, meaning they’ll be less profitable for UBM. But that’s not entirely by choice, says Wiedermann. Because that’s the highest you can build using wood under the Czech Republic’s out-of-date legislation. “In the countries around us, higher buildings are already going up,” he said. In fact, UBM recently bought land in Vienna along the Danube where it plans to build a 113 meter office building. “And here we’re talking about whether we can build higher than 12 meters.”

This is more than just a mere annoyance for UBM, which envisions a wooden future for itself. Wiedermann says wood allows the company not just to meet its sustainability goals, but to build faster, with greater precision and in better quality.

“This is the way forward in the future to build comfortable homes using renewable construction materials,” he said. “Our goal is that we’ll look at all future acquisitions in terms of whether we can use wood for them. And if it isn’t possible, that would be a serious negative for us. This could mean that we don’t make any new acquisitions in the Czech Republic.”

With the concrete foundations complete, trucks loaded with the finished wooden wall modules began arriving in June. No extra façade work needs to be done and the windows are already in. To speed up the assembly on-site, all components (including the modular bathrooms) are loaded onto the trucks in the opposite order that they will be installed. Construction work began seven months ago.

In all but one of the buildings, the stairways and elevator shafts are built from CLT wood. These are produced and assembled by the Austrian company ELK. Wiedermann says that as wooden construction projects become more widespread here, competition among local contractors will bring down prices still further. For now, the primary savings come from the speed of work and the precision that factory-produced components make possible.

Handover should take place at the end of 2024.

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