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Construction Materials Manual

Which building material is suitable for which purpose?

Which ceramic finishes represent the best solutions for walls,
which for floors? Can a composite floor slab span a greater
distance than a reinforced concrete floor slab with the same
depth? Is it sensible to lay a sisal carpet in the entrance
zone or would a velour one be better? Or neither of these?
How does one go about developing a "new" building
material up to the point of its use in a structure?
The list of questions in the construction process is a long
one - and the answers can be found here in the Construction
Materials Manual. In addition, 25 examples of international
projects illustrate the aesthetic, sometimes traditional,
sometimes innovative, uses of the materials explained in
detail in the main body of this new work of reference. This,
the latest in the series of Birkhauser Construction Manuals,
deals with the following:

the boundary conditions and the significance of the choice

of materials for architecture and building

the influence of the material - application, design,


detailed information on the properties and applications of

building materials

a unique compendium of sustainability parameters for

individual building materials and forms of construction

a list of standards, directives and statutory instruments

relevant in Europe

the effects of building materials, forms of construction

and architectural designs in the context of case studies,
including large-scale details

Part A: Materials and architecture

Part B: Properties of building materials
Part C: Applications of building materials
Part D: Case studies in detail
Part E: Appendix

This book was compiled at the Chair of Design and

Energy-Efficient Building, Prof. Manfred Hegger
Department of Architecture, TU Darmstadt
In conjunction with Institut fUr internationale Architektur
Dokumentation GmbH & Co. KG, Munich

Birkhauser - Publishers for Architecture

Basel . Boston Berlin
Edition Detail

ons rue Ion


a erla 5

. .



This book was compiled at the

Chair of Energy-Efficient Building Design, Prof. Manfred Hegger
Department of Architecture, TU Darmstadt
in conjunction with
Institut fUr internationale Architektur-Dokumentation GmbH & Co. KG, Munich


Specialist articles:

Manfred Hegger

Christian Schittich, Dipl.-Ing. Architect

Prof. Dipl.-Ing. M. Econ Architect

Institut fUr internationale Architektur-Dokumentation, Munich

Chair of Energy-Efficient Building Design, TU Darmstadt

Christiane Sauer, Dipl.-Ing. Architect
Volker Auch-Schwelk


Material, Berlin

Dipl.-Ing. Architect
Chair of Design and Building Studies, TU Darmstadt

Peter Steiger, Prof. Architect

intep AG, Zurich

Matthias Fuchs
Dipl.-Ing. Architect

Alexander Rudolphi, Dipl.-Ing.

Chair of Energy-Efficient Building Design, TU Darmstadt

GFOB Berlin mbH, Berlin

Thorsten Rosenkranz

Dirk Funhoff, Dr. rer. nat.


BASF, Ludwigshafen

Chair of Energy-Efficient Building Design, TU Darmstadt

Marc Esslinger
Scientific assistants:

frog design gmbh, Herrenberg

Jurgen Volkwein, Dipl.-Ing. Architect (Building services)

Martin Zeumer, Dipl.-Ing. (Glass, Physical parameters of materials,

Karsten Tichelmann, Prof. Dipl.-Ing.

Life cycle assessments)

Patrik Jakob, Dipl.-Ing.

VHT, Darmstadt

Student assistants:
Christoph Drebes, Andreas Gottschling, Cornelia Herhaus,

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the Library of

Viola John, Yi Zhang

Congress, Washington, D.C., USA

Editorial services

Die Deutsche Bibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche National


Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Bibliothek.

bibliografie; detailed bibliographic data is available on the Internet at
Steffi Lenzen, Dipl.clng. Architect (project manager)
Julia Liese, Dipl.-Ing.

This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved, whether the whole
or part of the material is concerned, specifically the right of translation,

Editorial assistants:

reprinting, re-use of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on

Carola Jacob-Ritz, M. A.; Sabine Schmid, Dipl.-Ing.;

microfilms or in other ways, and storage in databases. For any kind of use,

Manuel Zoller, Dipl.-Ing.

permission of the copyright owner must be obtained.


This book is also available in a German language edition

Marion Griese, Dipl.-Ing.

(ISBN 3-7643-7272-9).

Drawing assistants:


Kathrin Draeger, Dipl.-Ing.; Norbert Graeser, Dipl.-Ing.;

Institut fUr internationale Architektur-Dokumentation

Emese K6szegi, Dipl.-Ing.; Nicola Kollmann, Dipl.-Ing.;

GmbH & Co. KG, Munich

Elisabeth Krammer, Dipl.-Ing.; Andrea Saiko, Dipl.-Ing.

Production / DTP:

Roswitha Siegler

Birkhauser - Publishers for Architecture, P.O. Box 133, 4010 Basel,

2006 English translation of the 1st German edition

Switzerland, Part of the Springer Science+Business Media.


Martin Hartel OHG, Martinsried

Printed on acid-free paper produced from chlorine-free pulp. TCF
Translation into English:


Printed in Germany

Gerd H. S6ffker and Philip Thrift, Hannover



ISBN-1O: 3-7643-7570-1

ISBN-1O: 3-7643-7571-x

ISBN-13: 978-3-7643-7570-6

ISBN-13: 978-3-7643-7571-3



Part A

Materials and architecture

Part C

Applications of building


The surface in contemporary



The building envelope

Christian Schittich

Insulating and sealing


Building services


materials scout



Christiane Sauer

Intermediate floors




Surfaces and coatings


The architect as building

The critical path to sustainable





Peter Steiger

Criteria for the selection of


building materials
Alexander Rudolphi

The development of innovative


Part D

Case studies in detail


Dirk Funhoff

Touching the senses - materials

Project examples 1 to 25



and haptics in the design process

Marc Esslinger


Part E






Karsten Tichelmann, Patrik Jakob

Ceramic materials


Glossary: Hazardous substances

Building materials with mineral


Alexander Rudolphi

Bituminous materials


Statutory instruments, directives,

Wood and wood-based products








Picture credits


Synthetic materials


Subject index


Life cycle assessments


Index of names


Part B

Properties of building


Glossary: Physical parameters of







Books explaining the fundamentals of building

The Construction Materials Manual combines

materials have long since been standard read

the contents of these three formats. It brings

ing for architects and engineers. They supply

together clearly the technical, sensual and, for

comprehensive information about materials for

the first time, also the ecological aspects in one

construction, explain their origins and produc

work. Therefore, continuing in the tradition of

tion processes, outline the forms in which they

the series of the Construction Manuals, it closes

are available and the potential applications,

a sensitive gap. The reader gains access to a

and hence provide an in-depth understanding

more comprehensive treatment of building

of properties and processing options. The

materials. Based on this approach, the choice

publications currently available also follow the

of material can be made with more circum

traditional layout: an overview divided into sec

spection and care, will also permit more sound

tions devoted to the groups of materials, with

reasoning than was possible in the past. The

comprehensive information on how they affect

carefully prepared, comprehensive parameters

the performance of the building.

now enable verifiable statements instead of

This established technical and business-like

efficiency and sustainability in the building sec

vague claims, especially in the categories of

approach has been supplemented recently by

tor. This also means we can say farewell to glo

other groups of publications. One group is the

bal prejudices regarding building materials;

books - some of them in large format - of sam

there is actually no building material that can

ples of materials which with their primarily visu

be unanimously recommended or rejected

al means of communication would seem to

without any riders.

represent the antithesis to the aforementioned

standard works. They present extensive rang

Does this mean that "anything goes" where

es of materials or provide an insight into the

building is concerned? No, it always depends

diversity of the possibilities of individual

on the structural, building performance, func

groups of materials. They display the available

tional and environmental contexts and the

diversity as materials or in as-built contexts.

extent to which the material is used. The

This illustrates the increasing need to place

Construction Materials Manual can be used to

the way we experience building materials on a

check the intended application, to establish

sensual level at the very heart of our decisions

whether the planned material should be con

regarding materials and hence improve the

sidered as suitable or critical. Unfavourable

tangible qualities of the built environment in

results need not necessarily lead to the exclu

visual and sensual terms. The task of such

sion of a material preferred for economic or

books is to show us the surface of the material.

design reasons. Increasingly, we find that

The other group is those recent publications

material properties can be influenced, in the

and sets of figures that primarily consider how

sense of "custom-made". In the future archi

building materials affect the environment and

tects, designers and engineers - also with the

our health, also their durability and recyclabili

help of the knowledge gathered together in this

ty plus other sustainability criteria. These

book - will be able to specify desired proper

parameters were neglected for many years

ties and assist in the development of new, high

although the building industry consumes the

ly efficient materials. At the same time, they can

largest share of all raw materials and energy

therefore make a significant contribution to

and - despite the comparative longevity of this

improving the quality of building and to extend

industry's products - also contributes the lion's

ing the design repertoire.

share of the waste produced. The origins of

the impact of building operations can be traced

The choice of material has a very decisive

back to, above all, the choice of materials.

effect on the appearance and perception of

Until now, their criteria and indicators have

buildings, and not only their surfaces. For hun

only been available to a specialist circle of

dreds of years the materials available for build


ings were very limited. Knowledge about mate-

rials was acquired over generations and hand

only in design, is clarified. This aspect is still

criteria. Various typical, layer-type construc

ed down. Today, the expanding world of mate

much underestimated in architecture.

tions, presented in tabular form, are compared

disposal for creating architecture. The risks of

Part B "Properties of building materials" is dedi

mental effects and durability aspects related to

particular components can be read off directly,

rials puts a broad selection of materials at our

at the end of each section. From this, environ

using new materials are high because long

cated to the overall consideration of the materi

term experience is not available. Nevertheless,

als themselves. Here, the materials are sorted

which enable designers to estimate the overall

the playful use of and pleasure in experiment

into groups according to their origins and pro

impact on the environment of components and

ing with materials are increasingly evident in

duction, methods of processing, but also their

the complete structure at an early planning

our architecture. Material diversification, materi

chemical composition, physical properties plus

stage. Again in this section, the form of presen

al alienation, conscious misuse of materials or

their impact and appearance. This section

tation is based on the need to provide the infor

materials "borrowed" from other industries have

reviews the fundamentals for using the building

mation in a compact format, and therefore uses

become acknowledged styling tools. Besides

materials covered and mentions the risks of

the preferred method of conveying information

the primary edict of architectural form, the rhet

those materials. The properties in terms of

for architects, i.e. photographs, drawings and

oric of the materials is increasingly becoming

building performance are mainly shown in the


the focal point of the culture of our built envi

form of tables. Wherever possible, the text is

ronment. Diverse innovations are creating an

backed up with drawings, photographs and

incredible need for information among archi

diagrams. Environmental parameters for the

Part D "Case studies in detail" was to present

tects and engineers.

materials are described at the end of this sec

the relationship between architectural expres

The prime aim of the selection of buildings in

tion and are summarised in practical terms for

sion and the materials used. The majority of

The Construction Materials Manual cannot pre

the main building materials. Common reference

buildings represent recent projects that are

sent every material, track every trend. Never

units such as m2 or kg are employed for easy

notable for their use of surface textures limited

theless, the authors have tried to take into

comparison and ease of understanding.

to just a few materials. The presentation of the

tects today by covering a wide range of groups

Just considering the material alone is always

cal details for the use of such materials. The

account the diverse options available to archi

projects features the materials and shows typi

of materials, by describing their use in various

an abstract exercise for planning and design

intention is to illustrate the architectural

practical contexts and by direct comparisons

when materials have a wide range of potential

strengths that can evolve from an economic

of their properties. For unconventional groups

applications. This is true for the majority of

and skilful choice of materials.

of materials, the various levels of consideration

building materials. For example: metals are just

can perhaps to some degree compensate for

as useful as structural components as they are

the features that characterise our traditional

as cladding to external walls or linings to sof

department and all the institutions and people

building materials: dependable awareness of

fits, or pipework, or facade members. The

who contributed to this publication, and those

their properties, familiarity with their treatment

authors therefore also saw it as part of their

who so generously provided material for inclu

and use.

task to show the unison between material and


Finally, I should like to thank all the staff of my

design in addition to the wide range of potential

The layout of the book follows the procedure for

materials. This context made it necessary to

Damstadt, August 2005

choosing building materials and then integrat

formulate the different possibilities and relation

Manfred Hegger

ing them into the draft and detail designs.

ships that result from specific applications.

Part A "Material and architecture" approaches

Accordingly, Part C "Applications of building

the current and fundamental aspects of choice

materials" describes assemblies of compo

of materials. The articles show how choice of

nents with respect to the use of the material.

material influences contemporary architecture

Besides functional and constructional aspects,

and trace the associated selection processes.

building performance criteria such as fire pro

They present the importance of sustainability

tection, thermal insulation and sound insulation

criteria in the choice of material and describe

are considered specifically for the particular

the dynamics in the development of innovative

application (e.g. building envelope, intermedi

building materials. Furthermore, the enormous

ate floors). The multitude of design options and

part played by the surfaces of materials as the

their framework conditions is derived directly

interface between building and occupants, not

from this. This also applies to the sustainability

Part A

Materials and architecture

The surface in contemporary architecture

Christian Schittich

Fig. A

Limestone stairs worn by tho usands of feet over

h undreds of years, Chapter Ho use, Wells Cathe
dral, UK, com menced c. 1 1 80 (stairs date from
c. 1 255), Adam Lock et al.

The architect as building materials scout

Christiane Sauer

The critical path to sustainable construction

Peter Steiger

Criteria for the selection of building materials

Alexander Rudolphi

The development of innovative materials

D irk Funhoff

Touching the senses - materials and haptics

in the design process
Marc Esslinger

The surface in
contemporary architecture
Christian Schittich

The increasing overabundance of stim u l i , sen

sual impressions and colourful images has
embraced architecture as well , even though
the reaction to this is mixed . Some architects
adapt to the c ircumstances and respond with
simi larly colourful images silk-screen-printed on
brittle g lass. Or with multi-coloured patterns
over large areas, flickering media facades and
i l luminated screens. But others contemplate the
quality of tried-and-tested build ing materials soli d , jointed natural stone, fair-face concrete,
untreated timber or clay brickwork - in order to
demonstrate the physical presence of a struc
ture in an i ncreasingly virtual world, or as a
deliberate contrast to shrill surroundings. What
ever approach the architect chooses, the sur
face always plays a dominant role. It is essen
tially through the surfaces we see and touch
that we perceive architecture. Their colours,
textures and auras dominate the characters of
interiors and facades.
Since time immemorial, people in all cu ltures
have paid special attention to the surfaces of
their houses and rooms , have fashioned them
and decorated them . We see this in the colour
fu l tapestries hanging in the tents of nomads,
the colourful paintings in churches and palac
es, and the tiles and stucco work of I slamic
architecture (fig . A 1 . 1 ) . I n contemporary archi
tecture we witness an alternation between
schools that place form in the foreground, and
others that emphasise the building envelope.
Emphasising the surface is currently "in". This
goes hand in hand with the increasing separa
tion between loadbearing structure and build
ing envelope, but also with new technical
options such as printing on glass and plastics,
or the reproduction of patterns by means of
computer techniques. And, of course, this
trend is also l inked to the growing significance
of d ifferent media, which seem to imply that the
image of a building is sometimes more impor
tant than the b u i l d i ng itself! However, empha
sising the surface directs our attention to the
material itself, which more and more is being
given the proper setting. The material becomes
visi ble at its surface and its specific properties
dominate its appearance, which depends q u ite
decisively on whether a traditional or an indus
trially fabricated building material is being
used, whether the material has been left
untreated or covered or coated (to protect
against corrosion) , whether it is glossy or matt,
textured or plain, or whether its appearance
and its properties change over the course of
time (intended or unintended) . Like timber,
which takes on a si lvery grey colour, or metals,
which oxidise and become d u l l , or untreated
sandstone, which turns black over time.
I n contrast to earlier times when everyday
building projects could only make use of the
materials available locally, we have at our d is
posal today an unprecedented d iversity of
building materials from the four corners of the
globe to which industry i s constantly adding
new developments. This d iversity brings with it


A 1.1

previously unforeseen opportunities, but also

risks, at least in terms of the huge choice.
Moreover, the g rowing "staging" of the material,
which is not limited to traditional building mate
rials, leads to more and more products from
other sectors of industry - which hitherto found
no use in building - being employed in archi
"Authentic" materials

The conscious treatment of materials is not a

new concept confined to contemporary archi
tecture. For more than 20 years, Tadao Ando
has been using "authentic building materials
with substance", such as untreated timber or
(inspired by Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn) the
raw power of fair-face concrete, in order to
create rooms and moods. I n his best designs
the surfaces are not absolutely flat, but instead
exhi bit a minimal waviness within each form
work panel; the ensuing play of light and shad
ow lends the surface an adroit vigorousness
(fig . A 1 4) .
The buildings of Tadao Ando helped fair-face
concrete to make a comeback. However, it was
mostly the completely smooth surfaces divided
into strict patterns by the formwork panels and
punctuated by a regular network of real, some
times even dummy, formwork tie holes on his
ever larger works that found imitators world
Concrete in all its forms is currently popular.
The use of rough formwork boards or subse
quent furrowin g or bush hammering gives it a
striking, coarse character, the addition of col
oured pigments or certain aggregates lend it a
certain materiality. Jacques Herzog & Pierre de
Meuron, for example, specified a concrete mix
with gravel containing soil plus subsequent
coarse pOinting for the external walls of their
so-called Schaulager in Basel (2003) in order
to achieve a loam-type character (see p. 1 1 2,
fig. C 1 .27 c). On the other hand, the Basel
based architectural practice of Morger Oegelo
Kerez used a concrete mix with green and
black basalt river aggregates plus extensive
grinding and polishing on the art gallery in
Lichtenstein (2000) to create the appearance of
marble (see p. 1 1 2 , fig . C 1 .27 d).

The surface in contemporary architecture

A 1 .1

Gla zed ceram ic tiles and stucco work , Alhambra,

Granada, Spai n , 1 4th cent ury
A 1 .2 National libra ry o f France, Paris, France, 1 996,
Dominique Perra ult with Ga elle Lauriot Pr evost
A 1 .3 Thermal baths, Vals, Switzerland, 1 996,
Peter Zumthor
A 1 .4 S unday school , I baraki , Japan , 1 999, Tadao Ando

A 1 .2

"Genuine" natural stone is used these days

almost exclusively on the surface, in the form of
thin cladding panels or even as "veneers" just
a few millimetres thick bonded to an aluminium
backing panel . Countless facades and foyers
for banks and insurance companies bear wit
ness to this.
But Peter Zumthor - like Tadao Ando a maestro
in terms of the handling of materials - is not
satisfied with such approaches. His structures
draw their impressive strength from the con
scious use of a limited number of primarily
untreated materials such as stone, timber or
concrete. Zumthor wants to expose the "actual
nature of these materials, freed from all cultur
ally mediated mean ing", to allow the "materials
to resound and radiate in the architecture". [ 1 ]
In works like his stone-clad thermal baths in
Vals ( 1 996) or the chapel in Sumvitg covered in
larch shingles ( 1 988) , his choice of materials
reflects local traditions and helps to establish
the structures in their surroundings. For exam
ple, the thermal baths in Vals takes on the
appearance of a monolith growing out of the
mountainous landscape, with the stone itself in the form of solid walls made from local
quartzite or as floor finishes and the linings to
pools made from the same material - providing
a multitude of aesthetic and haptic experiences
both internally and externally.

overlapping cladding of acid-etched g lass

panes (see p. 86, fig . B 8.8) , which thereby
impressively reveals the physical presence of
this "invisible" material. Translucent but not
transparent, the consistent envelope changes
its appearance depending on viewing angle,
time of day and l i g hting conditions.
On their hospital pharmacy in Basel ( 1 999) ,
Jacques Herzog & P ierre de Meuron achieved
a dematerial isation of the building fabric by
using silk-screen-printed glass (see p. 1 1 7 ,
f i g . C 1 .36 c ) . I n t h i s example a completely reg
ular pattern of green dots was applied to the
glass cladd ing which encloses the entire build
ing, even extending into the window reveals.
The clad d i n g therefore changes its appear-

A 1 .3

ance accord ing to the observer's d istance from

the building. From far away the building takes
on a uniform green appearance, but from clos
er the green dots become apparent. The spac
ing of the dots is such that the insulation
behind and its fixings remain visible. As the
observer changes his or her position, so he or
she is treated to unceasing optical interference
phenomena which animate the structure and
break down its strict contours. The reflections
of the surrounding trees merge with the facade.
The Austrian architects Andreas Lichtblau and
Susanna Wagner also used glass on their par
ish centre (200 1 ) in Podersdorf on Neusiedler
Lake, but this time for a subtle form of decora
tion. An enclosing and integrating glass wall

Industrially fabricated materials

Glass and transparent synthetic materials, but

also metal meshes and fabrics, enable archi
tects to play with the surface in a special way,
to separate the physical and visual boundaries.
In this respect, it is especially chal leng i n g to
sound out the multifaceted zone between
transparency and translucency. That can be
achieved by coverin g the g lass with louvres or
perforated sheet metal , by printing, by acid
etching or the specific use of m irror effects and
The individual characters of and contrast
between two very different materials - concrete
and glass - was turned into an imposing theme
by Peter Zumthor on his art gallery in Bregenz
(1997) . The monolithic core of in situ fair-face
concrete walls and floors is enclosed in an
A 1 .4

The surface in contemporary architecture

position, the material generates constantly

changing colour effects. I nside the building,
the interaction with the i nner leaf of translucent
g lass results in a pleasant, softly coloured light
which generates a positive atmosphere and
suits the dance and practice rooms admirably.



A 1.5

A 1.6

placed in front of the group of buildings was

printed with passages of text written by local
children mixed with q uotes from the Bible (see
p. 1 1 7 , fig. C 1 .36 d ) . The result is not only
interesting lighting effects on the buildings
behind, but also a type of media facade con
veying a message. Printing with texts or images
- the primary objective of which is an aesthetic
effect - still remains the customary form of media
facade because active building envelopes with
moving i mages and changing messages - with
the exception of large advertising screens in
city centres - have not yet become a fam i l iar
addition to the streetscape despite promising
Matthias Sauerbruch and Louisa Hutton also
exploited the possibilities of printed g lass for
their combined police and fire station in Berlin
(see Example 24, pp. 258-60) . I n contrast to
the two examples described above, however,

transparency was less i mportant than the con

cept of large-scale coloured patterns, with
reflections in the glass surfaces providing addi
tional charm.
Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron managed
to achieve a successful setting for synthetic
materials, currently so popular in architecture,
on the Laban Centre in south-east London
(2003). The plastic four-wall panels are used so
skilfully here that the result is a splendid , shim
mering sculpture (fi g . A 1 .7 ) . It emulates the
straight lines of its surroundings, but at the
same time its outlines become blurred with the
sky, which leads to an almost unrealistic, seem
ingly intangible appearance. Colours are used
very subtly here, with colour applied to the rear
faces of only some of the plastic panels. This
reinforces the shimmering, pastel-like effect.
Depending on lighting conditions and viewing

Synthetic materials in the form of corrugated

sheetin g or multi-wall panels are inexpensive
products that have been used in building for
many decades, but usually for ancillary areas.
In architecture they led a sort of shadowy exist
ence - similarly to plywood, expanded metal or
fibre-cement sheeting - until their aesthetic
qual ities were discovered and literally brought
to the surface - to the visible sides of claddings
and linings - in the course of the new aware
ness of materials.
Forming a contrast to this is the stainless steel
fabric used by Dominique Perrault for the first
time on the National Library of France in Paris
( 1 995) - an example of the sensible transfer of
a material from industry (where, for example, it
is used for sieves) to architecture. I nternally, in
lecture theatres, staircases and other public
areas, this semi-transparent material can be
used as an acoustically effective soffit and wall
lining, to conceal building services, as translu
cent partitions or as sunshadi n g . This textured
light- and air-permeable second skin lends the
interior a special qual ity (fig . A 1 .2).
Nowadays, the material appears in all sorts of
places - from bank foyers to airport car parks.
It is an effective treatment for facades too, as
the curving skin of stainless steel fabric on the
NOX arts centre in Lille demonstrates (see
Example 1 5, pp. 234-36) . The facade changes

A 1.7

The surface in contemporary architecture

its appearance depending on weather condi

tions and time of day - sometimes shining in
the sunlight and concealing what lies behind it,
at other times looking l i ke a semi-transparent,
fine veil draped in front of the buildi n g .

MVRDV team, the veil of water flowin g across

the outer skin was used to provide texture, its
movement leading to a multitude of kaleido
scope-type patterns and a neverend ing alter
nation between transparency and translucency.

Variable surfaces

Interior surfaces

The effect and aura of a surface is essentially

determined by the properties of the material, by
the interaction of d ifferent building materials, by
the alternation between closed and open
zones, or even by movable elements. Variable
building envelopes are not a new phenomenon.
The window shutters of earlier times fall into this
category of variability, likewise fabric sunblinds;
in addition to being functional, they have always
served as design features too. But hardly ever
before has the aesthetic effect of the variable
facade been given so much attention, the con
trast between the closed and open conditions
of hinged or sliding shutters placed in the set
tings conceived for them today. This applies to
the student accommodation in Coimbra, Portu
gal, (1999) by Manuel and Francisco Rocha de
Aires Mateus, where a completely flat, homo
geneous surface of timber panels becomes an
interestingly subd ivided external wall by open
ing the shutters (figs A 1 .5 and A 1 .6) . Another
example is the straig htforward, box-l ike stone
house by MADA (see Example 5, pp. 2 1 2- 1 3 ) ,
whose hinged a n d s l i d i n g shutters d o m u c h to
soften the building's severity.

Besides the internal spaces themselves, the

materials used i nternally for walls, floors, soffits,
furnishings and fittings play a vital role. Their
surfaces, textures and colours have a very
decisive i nfluence on the atmosphere. Unlike
the facade, the building occupants have direct
contact with the materials used i nternal ly; they
can inspect them close-up, touch them, stroke
them , perhaps even smell them. Natural and
earthy materials such as timber, stone and con
crete rad iate warmth, exhi bit a sensual materi
al ity, whereas synthetic and coated materials
can be readily used to express formal design
concepts. For instance, i n the minimal ist interior
of John Pawson ( 1 999) it is wood with its red
dish colouring and grain that dominates the
character of the room, whereas in the fashion
boutique by propeller z (2000) in Vienna it is
the curving contours and the rich yel low colour
ing (figs A 1 .8 and A 1 .9) .

That surfaces need not always be rigid was

demonstrated by the Dutch pav i l ion at EXPO
2000 in Hannover, admittedly an extreme
example. In this pavilion designed by the

A 1 .8

separates sensible innovation from hackneyed

effects simply striving for attention. Focusing
increasingly on the surface brings with it the
risk of superficiality, which is particularly true
for the applied ornamentation so popular at the
moment, although it is true that the boundary
between tasteful ly applied patterns and pure
decoration is of course not fixed .

[1 1

Whether plastics, glass or wood, variable or

minimalist, brightly coloured or plain, with its
vast palette of poss i b i l ities the theme of the sur
face is probably more excitin g now than it has
ever been in the past. A tremendous delight i n
experimentation can b e seen everywhere;
boundaries are sounded out, trad itional looks
q uestioned, new materials and concepts tried
out. But sometimes only a narrow dividing line

Zumthor, Peter: Thinking Architect ure. Basel /

Boston /Berlin 2006

A 1. 5-6 St udent accommodation, Coimbra , Portugal,

2000, Manuel and Francisco Rocha de Aires
Mate us
A 1. 7 Laban Centre, London, UK, 2003, Jac ques
Herzog & Pierre de Meuron
A 1 .8 Private ho use, London, UK , 1ggg, John Pawson
A 1.9 Fashion bouti que, Vienna, A ustria, 2000,
propeller z


The architect as
building materials scout
Christiane Sauer

A 2. 1

A 2.2

Architects have always tried t o exploit the full

design potential of the materials available to
them. I n the past, the architectural options were
often l i m ited to local materials and traditional
methods of working. But over recent decades
the g lobalisation of trade plus g lobal communi
cations and transport logistics networks have
changed the situation drastically. For the archi
tect, the search for the "perfect" material has
become the search for the proverbial pin in the
- now g lobal - haystack. Research into i nnova
tive materials generally follows two principles:
either the d iscovery of new technologies or the
transfer of existing materials to other contexts.
Another approach is the targeted new develop
ment of a material for a certain purpose or
application, but this presumes an appropriate
budget and a corresponding timeframe.

cone foam with pores just 0.2 x 1 0.6 mm in

d iameter. The pores are therefore smaller than
the wavelength of solar radiation and smaller
than the mean free path of air molecules, which
means that the thermal conduction is less than
that of stationary air. It was only just a few years
ago - in other words nearly 50 years later - that
the material was d iscovered for the building
sector, and the first products are now appear
ing on the market i n the form of translucent
thermal insulation panels (fig. A 2.2) .

Materials and research

The laboratories and think-tanks of the automo

tive and aerospace industries are now the
world leaders in the development of innovative
materials. The ultra-tearproof, highly insulating,
extra-lightweight materials and coatings devel
oped by these centres of excellence also offer
new opportunities for sophisticated building
concepts. However, it is not unusual for many
years to pass before the development of a
hi ghly specialised material in a high-tech
industry is transformed into a marketable build
ing product. This may be because the potential
of the innovation transfer is not recognised
immed iately or because the funding for pro
tracted , expensive approval procedures is not
forthcoming. We therefore get the paradoxical
situation of a solution being available before
the problem has even materialised: industry
already has a high-quality material waiting in
the wings, but a use in construction has yet to
be found.

A 2.1
A 2.2
A 2.3
A 2.4
A 2.5


Aerogel - "Solid Smoke"

Light-permeable thermal insulation panel, filled
with nanogel
"HeatSeats ", Jurgen Mayer H.
Thermosensitive bed l in en, J urgen Mayer H.
"was 8" heat exchanger station, Utrecht, Nether
lands, 1998, N L Architects

One example of this dilemma is the nanomate

rial aerogel, which was developed by NASA
way back in the 1 950s as an i nsulating material
(fig . A 2 . 1 ) . Aerogel, also called "sol id smoke",
has the lowest density of any solid material d is
covered or developed so far and exhibits
excellent insulatin g properties. It consists of
99.8% air; the remaining 0.2% is ultra-fine sili-

Materials and architecture

The adaptation of materials for new applica

tions is a theme for the architectural avant
garde , at least since the 1 970s when Frank
Gehry built and clad his house in Santa Monica
with materials like wire mesh, corrugated sheet
metal and plywood. Polycarbonate double- and
multi-wall sheetin g and neon tubes from the
local DIY store were given a new honour by
Rem Koolhaas in the design for the Rotterdam
art gallery in 1 992. Transferring the materials
into an unusual programmatic context fasci
nated the architects because it tapped new
aesthetic freedoms.
By the late 1 990s design experiments had
become more virtual: new computer software,
the origins of which are also to be found in the
high-tech laboratories of the aerospace indus
try, rendered possible the development of com
plex forms that were very difficult, indeed even
impossible, to realise using traditional building
materials. The amorphous "blob" became the
symbol of a generation of architects: wall, roof
and floor merged into one form and called for
new, flexible properties in structure and sur
face. To date, the manufacturers of building
materials have hardly reacted to these new
trends. The architect must therefore devise
ind ividual solutions alone - and take the
responsibility. This demands a high degree of
personal commitment and idealism.
The architect as "building materials scout" can
become a job in itself, like the post of "Materials
Manager" at the Rotterdam offices of OMA; the
manager 's task is to handle all the develop
ments in materials and the practice's contacts
with manufacturers. Or the architect could "just

The architect as building materials scout

walk around with eyes wide open and gather

information to be recalled as and when need
ed", which is how Berl in-based architect
jOrgen Mayer H. describes his source of inspi
ration. "Magazines, books or DIY store, discus
sions with experts from specific fields such as
shipbuilding - the boundaries are fluid ."
Thermosensitive paint

jOrgen Mayer H. works consciously with the

transformation of surfaces into new contexts.
His use of thermosensitive paint spans the
boundaries between people, spaces and objects.
He was stil l a student when he designed a
facade that reacted to temperature fluctuations
by changing colour. His "housewarming" exhi
bition in a New York gallery in 1 994 gave him
the opportunity to realise this concept. The
paint - a technical product designed to reveal
overheating on machine parts - originated in
the laboratories of NASA. In his exhibition, this
special paint - adjusted to react to body tem
perature - was applied to the walls and doors.
Visitors to the exhibition left behind temporary
white patches - imprints of those parts of the
body that had made contact with the paint. He
developed this interior surface treatment into a
covering for chairs, the so-called HeatSeats,
and also for bed linen (figs A 2.3 and A 2 . 4) .
The orig inal idea of decorati ng facades with
this paint had to be d iscarded owing to the
material's insufficient resistance to ultraviolet
In the opinion of jOrgen Mayer H., innovations
in materials are easier to implement internally
than they are externally: "". because here the
requirements in terms of liability and guaran
tees are not as high as for external applica
tions. In the case of innovations, the clients'
guarantee demands are d isproportionately
higher than for conventional materials, which
cal ls for a huge amount of work to convince
them. Graphic displays and reference samples
represent important aids in this respect."
jOrgen Mayer H. knows what he is talking
about. He is currently working on the transfor
mation of a nutty chocolate spread into a
desig n for the University of Karlsruhe. The
structure of the cafeteria is based on the
"Nutellagram": when a nutty chocolate spread
( Nutella) sandwich is pulled apart, thread-like
connections ensue between the sol id top and
bottom parts ( i . e . slices of bread ) . I n the search
for a surface material corresponding to the
elasticity of this image, the architect hit upon
the idea of a synthetic coatin g : liquid poly
urethane is sprayed over an inexpensive timber
backing to form a homogeneous, skin-like sur

A 2 .3

A 2.4

proofing roofs, is used here on horizontal and

vertical surfaces to cover the entire buildi n g .
The underlying structure is a conventional
assembly of calcium s i l i cate bricks, precast
concrete elements and cement render.
Thi s utility building had to comply with strict
stipulations: the external d i mensions had to be
kept as compact as possible and had to match
exactly the sizes of the techn ical equipment
i nside. The opportun ities for architectural
expression were therefore restricted to the sur
faces of the building. The polyurethane skin
results i n a seamless, monolithic appearance.
I ndividual elements such as doors, which con
vey the scale, are lost in this large format. Nor
mally, isolated bui ldings such as this are tar
gets for vandalism. "was 8" does not attempt
to defend itself, but instead invites utilisation: its
sides embody various functions and therefore
can be used as a vertical playing field for those
forms of youth culture that are undesirable on
other buildings. A basketball basket, a climbing
wal l , peepholes - the hardwearing skin amal
gamates all these elements both architecturally
and technologically.
The sprayed synthetic envelope makes tradi
tional facade details such as flashi ngs unnec
essary. Rainwater is allowed to cascade down
the building at random, creating an almost
sculptural display on the days on which it rains
in the Netherlands (average: 1 34 p.a.). "The
material permits a d ifferentiation in the facade,
which sti l l appears uniform, " is how Kamiel

Klaase, co-founder of NL Architects, describes

the aesthetic advantages of the envelope.
It was in the 1 990s that NL Architects began
researching the possi b i l ities of using rubber
and synthetic materials for architectural appli
cations. I nspiration for the black finish to "was
8" came from the immediate neighbourhood of
the plot itself. The fields around the site are
used for agriculture, and after harvestin g , the
bales of hay are wrapped in black plastic and
weig hted down with old car tyres. The building
therefore fits in well with the prevailing colour
and material language of the local scene.
Kamiel Klaase explains the design process:
"Naivety is the starting point. It begins with
minor fantasies and brainstorming, and then
you have to find the specialists who can realise
the idea. ". Many of our elements are materials
'recycled' from another context. That i s the sim
plest form of design: simply change the operat
ing instructions!"
"Baroque high-tech" made from expanded
polystyrene foam

Maurice N io from Rotterdam goes one step fur

ther in the construction. In 2003 he desig ned
the largest-ever building built entirely of plastic.
His 50 m long bus terminal in Hoofddorp (see
Example 1 1 , page 224-25) , lovingly christened
by him as "the amazing whale jaw", consists of
an expanded polystyrene foam core with a cov
erin g of g lass fibre-reinforced polyester - not
unl ike the construction of a surfboard.

Seamless synthetic coatings

NL Architects used the principle of the plastic

skin for the first time on the "was 8" heat
exchanger station in Utrecht (fi g . A 2 . 5 ) . The
material, which bridges over cracks and was
originally developed as a material for waterA 2 .5

The architect as building materials scout

A 2.6
A 2.7

Bus termina l, Hoofddorp, NL, 2003, NIO

CNC milling of the expanded polystyrene foam for
the Hoofddorp b us term in al
A 2.8 "Prada foam" product development: gypsum tes t
A 2.9 "Prada foam ", scale 1 : 1
A 2 . 1 0 Translucent concrete
A 2 . 1 1 Prada Store, Los Angeles, USA, 2004, OMA

I n terms of architecture, the structure is difficult

to classify. "To me this is Baroque high-tech the positive feeling of modernism a la Oskar
Niemeyer coupled with a type of voodoo CUl
ture," is how Maurice Nio himself descri bes the
building (fig . A 2.6) . "When we develop a
project, we start with an emblematic picture
that drives the whole project forward. We
i mmediately also think i n terms of the materials
that could fit this picture - the form as such is
not so important; that simply happens at some
The architects wanted to create a strong ,
dynamic i mage t o counter the normal picture of
a bus stop - a ubiquitous uti l ity structure nor
mally desig ned to be as neutral and inconspic
uous as possible. The original plan was to use
concrete, but the complex formwork require
ments exceeded the budget considerably. On
the lookout for alternatives, Maurice Nio was
i nspired by a LEGO building kit, and began to
break down the structure into modules. The
construction is almost completely open in all
three dimensions, l i ke a three-dimensional roof
- there is only a small enclosed restroom for
bus drivers.
A manufacturer of swimming pool articles and
a boatbu i l der provided Maurice Nio with the
right material and the technology to produce
the components. The load bearing foam materi
al is extremely l i ghtweight and inexpensive,
and can be machined with a five-axis CNC m i l l
ing machine (fi g . A 2.7) in order to produce the
complex, partly undercut forms . More than 1 00
i ndividual parts were worked out in a computer
model and fed directly into the milling machine.
All features such as recesses and benches
were integrated i nto the prefabricated surface.
On the building site, the parts were anchored
to a timber plinth and g lued together in situ .
"The most important thing you need to carry out
such a project is a good team of people who
believe in the idea , " says Maurice Nio. "The
team is a close and sensitive network made up
of cl ient, contractor, subcontractors and archi
tect - and all with the courage to take a risk. I n
the end, the building could not b e b u i lt perfect
ly; there are several details that are not quite
correct. But it is precisely this beauty in imper
fection that I l i ke - just like a wrinkled face tells
us something about a person's l ife. "
The transfer o f an existing technology from
boatbuilding to a building in this example
brought about a new way of thinking about
design and detaili n g . The working of the mate
rial was tailored to the needs of the project. But
what happens when the surface itself becomes
the object of the design? What happens when
the architect is also the inventor of the material?
Again, those involved need stami na, coopera
tive industrial partners and clients, and must be
prepared to take risks. This was the case in the
Rem Koolhaas project for Prada: two large
stores in New York and Los Angeles required
new concepts in order to redefine the Prada
brand , to create exclusivity and a new identity.

A 2. 1 0


Virtual measures were added to the traditional

interior design brief: research into shopping
trends, the conception of the Prada website,
even the development of new types of exclu
sive materials, e . g . shelving made from solid,
cast synthetic resin, silicone mats with a bub
ble structure, and the so-called Prada foam, a
l i g ht green polyurethane material whose struc
ture oscillates between open and closed, posi
tive and negative.
"Prada foam" made from light green polyurethane

The development began with one of the count

less design models at scale 1 :50 in which a
model building foam was tested as a wall or
display element. This foam - an open-pore,
beige-yellow material - is normally used on
urban planning models to represent areas of
shrubbery and trees. The surface proved to be
fascinating, especially when lit from behind,
and that initiated a period of intensive research
into how to transform this material into scale
1 : 1 . In other words, the orig inal belonging to
the model had to be found, or rather devel
oped. Countless tests were carried out on the
most diverse materials and surfaces: air-filled
bal loons as voids in a gypsum structure
(fi g . A 2.8) , soft s i l i cone, chromium-plated
metal , rubber, g loss, matt, opaque or translu
cent surfaces. Several companies were
involved in the industrial realisation of the mate
rial. The prototypes were manufactured from
plastic and finished by hand in the architects'
Rotterdam offices. The aim was to check the
shape and position of the holes once again
according to aesthetic criteria and - where
necessary - to regrind the material until the
appropriate permeab i l ity and appearance was
attained exactly. The 3.0 x 1 .5 m panels were
subsequently measured and fed into a compu
ter as a 3D structure. This data served as the
d i g ital basis for producing the final CNC-milled
negative moulds. The moulding compound for
the "Prada foam" was a greenish translucent
polyurethane compound specially developed
for the project that met the necessary fire
resistance requirements (fi g . A 2.9) .
After two years of preparatory work, the materi
al was first revealed to the public in 2004 at the
opening of the Prada store on Rodeo Drive in
Los Angeles (fi g . A 2 .1 1 ) . OMA and Prada
share the rig hts to the new development; nei
ther can use the material for further projects
without the approval of the other. The exclusivi
ty of the material is therefore guaranteed .
Translucent concrete

Following a spontaneous impulse and without

the financial backing of a large organisation
like Prada, a young architect from Hungary
developed an idea for a new material almost
out of nothi n g . I n 2001 Aron Losonczi submit
ted his translucent concrete idea for a Swedish
postgraduate scholarship promoting new
approaches i n art and architecture. He had
been inspired by a work of art he had seen
shortly before: fragments of glass cast i nto a

The architect as building materials scout

block of concrete, and with some of the frag

ments left protruding to catch the light. The
concrete appeared to be perforated and there
fore lost its massiveness.
Aron Losonczi was granted a scholarship to
develop his idea at the Royal University College
of Fine Arts in Stockholm. He studied the prin
ciple of d i recting l i g ht and built the first proto
types - about the size of a standard brick
using gypsum and g lass fibre. Further proto
types followed, this time in concrete, and after
two years of research he applied for a patent
for his light-directing concrete.
Back in Hungary, the first large panel was
made by han d : 1 500 x 800 x 200 mm and
weighing 600 kg . The fibres were laid manually
in the fine concrete in layers perpendicular to
the surface. The amazing thing about this
material is that it appears incredibly delicate
and transparent, although only about 4% of the
concrete is replaced by g lass, and therefore
the load bearing capacity of the concrete is
hardly affected . The material is currently under
going various trials - so far successful; it has a
compressive strength of 48 N/mm2 . The princi
ple is simple and fascinating at the same time:
light is directed through the fine glass capillar
ies from one side of the concrete to the other.
The concrete appears to be illuminated from
within, shadows and silhouettes appear quite
distinctly on the non-illuminated side (fig . A
2. 1 0) . The brand-name "LiTraCon" - an acro
nym of Light Transmitting Concrete - was
invented for the industrial production and mar
keting of this new material.

that such experiments can bring. In this

respect, the establishment of strategic partner
ships is without doubt beneficial for both sides:
the architect profits from the technical expertise
of the company, and the company can tap new
markets with the architect's ideas.
For a number of years we have been witness
ing designers' tremendous fascination for sur
faces and new materials. This is revealed not
only in the numerous publications, symposia,
trade fairs, research and consultancy offers on
this subject, but also in the designs of the new
generation of youn g architects. The surface
often forms the starting point for a design, be it
the external cladding to a facade or an internal
lining. Materials have always been a central
theme among architects, but the handl i n g of
this theme has become much more cosmopoli
tan and experimental.
Where did this materials "trend" orig inate? It is
possible that new approaches were required to
enrich the amorphous, arbitrary forms generat
ed by computer designs by adding haptic
qualities again. In our over-informed world
there is without doubt a longing for the sensual,
for the d i rect experience. I n this respect, sur
faces are the d i rect mediator between people
and architecture; this is where we can touch
the b u i l d i n g .
A t t h e same time, there i s also t h e danger that
the surface will become more and more super
ficial, reduced to just an eye-catcher, simply a
gimmick. What might appear very decorative in

high-gloss publications, could in reality be

nothi n g more than cladding to trivial, trite archi
tecture. On the other hand, good-quality archi
tecture has always been distinguished by a
close conceptual relationship between percep
tion, space and materials which transcends all
definitions of style or personal taste. An inter
esting material cannot create interesting archi
tecture on its own. In this sense, the well-known
slogan of the concrete industry can be extend
ed to cover the entire spectrum of building
materials: material - it depends what you do
with it.

Talking about the long way from the idea to the

marketable product, A ron Losonczi says: "It
was very d ifficult at first to convince the compa
nies to work with me. The larger a company,
the more d ifficult it is to get in touch with the
right people. It was certainly important that I
had built the samples as prototypes and my
idea could therefore not be rejected out of
hand as crazy. Nevertheless, up until the first
major papers, the companies d i d not take the
product seriously. In the final year there was
then a boom in publications, and in December
LiTraCon was presented as one of the ' I nnova
tions of the year 2004' by Time Magazine." But
the success story of A ron Losonczi 's light
directing concrete is not yet over. In the mean
time he has found a manufacturer who wishes
to produce the concrete on an industrial scale.
We await with excitement the first buildings with
translucent concrete walls . . .
New materials - from the idea to the product

The story of the development of translucent

concrete shows the stony road from the i dea to
the product: however much the idea of the
material may fascinate the architect, the build
ing materials industry works purely according
to economic criteria governed by batch sizes,
sales and profits. If the industry was to look
beyond the direct costs-benefits calculation, it
would often see the long-term gain in prestige
A 2. 1 1

The critical path to

sustainable construction
Peter Steiger

The term "sustainabil ity" was coined in 1 987 by

the World Commission on Environment and
Development, the "Brundtland Commission" .
What this means is: " . . . to make development
sustainable - to ensure that it meets the needs
of the present without compromising the ability
of future generations to meet their own needs."
At the U n ited Nations Earth Summit in Rio de
Janeiro in 1 992, sustainable development was
defined as the improvement of the l iving condi
tions of people in economic and social terms
but in harmony with the long-term safeguarding
of the natural foundations for life. Today, the
term sustainability awakens the hope of a trou
ble-free interaction between an efficient econo
my, a sound society and an intact environment.
The global concept, which is formulated in
Agenda 21 , should be implemented on a local
level with a responsibility towards the environ
ment and future generations. As the forces of
nature are sometimes experienced as a threat
and generate a feeling of helplessness, the
prospect of an intact environment awakens hid
den longings in many people. However, this
ideal state can no longer be produced throug h
the realisation of the global concept of Agenda 21 .
But, looked at realistically, which goals can we
pursue throug h sustainable development?
What should we call them? I nterestingly, there
is no precise term for the "maximum utilisation
of naturally occurring environmental energy",
for the "lowest technically achievable value of
environmental impact" (for unavoidable energy
conversion processes) , or for the "lowest possi
ble consumption of resources for the maximum
quality of a structure" (for sustainable methods
of construction ) . But without such terms we are
also lacking designations for a targeted way of
thinking and acting and also information about
those forces that can del iver results in this issue.
Where are we growing to?

A 3.1

A 3.2

A 3.3
A 3.4


Tools and in for mation syste ms for t he work ph ases

o f the Ger man sc ale of fees for architects and
engineers (HOAI)
Lo am structures (these ex amp les are in Morocco )
exhibit opti mu m conditions reg arding co mfort and
d ur ability, even fro m the modern vie wpoint. At the
s ame ti me, the environ ment al i mp act - fro m pro
duction to disposal of materi als - is mini mal.
Even with sust ain able for ms of construction , build
ings still h ave to be maint ained and c ared for.
Deserted houses and settl e ments g r adu ally disin
tegrate and return to the l andsc ape.

Even the first report of the Club of Rome ( 1 972)

questioned the sense of everything technically
feasible. However, it was not until the mid1 980s that we managed to shrug off the con
viction that energy consumption went hand in
hand with economic growth. Today, this recog
n ition must be transferred to the consumption
of all resources as a whole because if econom
ic g rowth is only possible with a constant
increase in the consumption of resources, then
economic g rowth must be restricted.
From the point of view of ecological sustainabil
ity, the term "growth" must be replaced by
words like retreat, sacrifice, limitation, avoid
ance or reinstatement in order to formulate an
adequate ecological objective. However, all
these terms have negative connotations in the
general use of the language because success
is harder to identify in the form of restraint than
it is in the form of accompl ishment. Conse
quently, such terms do not trigger any positive
ly motivated actions.
Typically, there is also no word for the opposite
of economic growth that in the same way prom
ises hope of greater prosperity but without the

g rowth associated with this in the past. The

term "qualitative growth", which fills the void as
a placeholder, at least points to the expectation
that an increase in prosperity includes not only
quantitative but also qualitative components.
But terms that are not associated with values
and imply benefits and success are not suita
ble for the advancement of science and cul
ture. Thi s is clearly shown by the word "sustain
ability", from which all sides currently derive
their own particular interests. The tallest sky
scrapers are given the "sustainable" award
when their huge steel-and-glass facades
include attri butes for the passive or active use
of solar energy. In this way, emphasising indi
vidual aspects while ignoring the overriding
objective helps those terms that can only be
measured i n terms of benefits and success.
The goal of present and future generations of
architects must be to achieve maximum quality
i n the finished products with a maximum spar
ing of resources. Therefore, the motto for con
sumption of resources "less is more" coined by
the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe will no
longer be just the technically feasible, but
instead the actually necessary. I n the building
sector in particular, the work required to
achieve high quality consists not only of labour
costs, but also the inte l l igent deployment of
capital and suitable means of production.
Quantitative and qualitative comparisons to
ensure a thrifty consumption of resources
should therefore be the focus of our construc
tion ideas in order to create the foundations for
measuring complete building works under sus
tainable and qualitative premises.
Developing tools for the selection
of building materials

I n order to be able to measure and evaluate the

consumption of resources in building works, a
method of assessment based on the primary
energy input (PEI) of a building material was
developed as long ago as 1 982. The compari
son of various building materials by means of
the primary energy input represents an impor
tant basis for l ife cycle assessments (LCA) . In
order to assess buildings and structures as a
whole and to enable the choice of those con
struction methods and forms with minimal envi
ronmental impact, a model was developed in
Switzerland in 1 995 (SIA Documentation D
0 1 23) which comprises a scientific-quantitative
part, the "index", and an assessment of the
q ualitative serviceability, the "profile". By con
verting the respective pollutant emissions from
a construction into equivalent variables (C02 ,
S0 ) the environmental effects (e.g. global
2 '
warming, acidification of soil and water) can be
Today, we increasingly need computer-assist
ed information systems to enable ecological
and economic comparisons of individual forms
of construction and overall concepts, and to
meet the current thermal standards. As a fur
ther development of SIA D 01 23, an online
component computation system is currently

The critical path to sustainable construction


Computer tool

Building award

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A 3. 1

being developed which in addition to calculat

ing the U-value will also enable d ifferent meth
ods of construction to be assessed by way of a
life cycle assessment. The designer is given
the opportunity to process information relating
to energy and sustainability parallel with the
economic optimisation of the project. The Ger
man equivalent of the Swiss system is the
LEGEP program, which has an ecology module
that provides an ecological assessment of the
building to accompany the design work.
In the meantime, various awards and certifi
cates are available for the assessment of a
building as an overall system. The Swiss build
ing award "eco-bau", which together with the
MINERG I E award enables a comprehensive
appraisal of a healthy, ecological and energy
efficient form of construction, is currently being
introduced onto the Swiss building market.
Other systems already establ ished are the
LEED system , which comes from the USA and
has been adapted for other countries, the Brit
ish award BREEAM , and the Austrian certificate
TOTAL QUALITY. Of these systems, the LEED
system, which is based on the i nternational
"Green Building Challenge", is the most widely
used and accepted .

A 3.2

Another tool for l ife cycle assessments is the

Swiss computer program O G I P, which express
es the environmental i mpact of a bui lding i n
key figures. OG I P can b e used to analyse
details (components, forms of assembly,
design variations) and also as an element with
in the scope of environmental compatib i l ity
assessments to analyse a complete structure
and its effects on the environment.
Energy and environmental audits can also be
produced by VITRUVIUS, a Swiss system for
fac i l ity management and maintenance plan
ning. A correspond ing module for the ecologi
cal and energy-related assessment in the realm
of cost planning renders possible complex l ife
cycle appraisals.
In order to be able to deploy the ecology
aspects as assessment criteria equivalent to
desig n , functionality and economy even at a
very early stage of planning (competition, pre
liminary design) , a "System for the assessment
of sustainabil ity in architectural competitions
and stud ies" (SNARC, SIA Documentation D
0200) was developed in 2003. This software
enables comparative statements on aspects of
resources consumption (land, water) , the
resources required for provision and operation,
and the functional suitabil ity of planning tasks.
A comprehensive database for the entire plan-

ning process is avai lable i n the form of ECO

B IS. The ECOlogical Bui lding materials I nfor
mation System was set up by the German
Federal M i nistry of Transport, Building and
Urban Development together with partners
from industry. It contains data on groups of
building products which i s relevant to environ
mental and health issues in all phases of the
l ife cycle (production, processing, use, dispos
al). However, it must be remembered when
using the system that the information was
gathered in the year 2000 and current develop
ments have not been taken into account.
There is a d i rect l i n k between ECOBIS and
WINGIS, the hazardous substances information
system of the employers' l iabil ity insurance
association for the building industry (G ISBA U ) .
WI NGIS provides comprehensive information
on the health effects related to the spread of
bui lding products or bui lding product groups.
A comprehensive aid for ecological planning
(and revised at the start of 2005) i s now availa
ble in the form of "data sheets according to the
building costs plan for tenders" (BKP) . These
are published by "eco-bau" in conjunction with
an amalgamation of the building authorities of
many Swiss cantons and towns . They contain
information on choice of materials and process
es, and the evaluation of various alternative

A 3.3

A 3.4

The critical path to sustainable construction

1 00 %
90 %

1 00 %
90 %

75 %

75 %

50 %

50 %

1 00 %
95 %

Electrical eq uip.
Oil-fired boiler

85 %

60 %

1 5 30 45

60 75

90 1 05 1 20 years



1 00


1 20 years

C umulative


1 00

1 20 years

1 00 %
90 %

1 00 %
90 %

75 %

75 %

1 00 %
95 %
85 %

60 %
50 %

50 %

approaches. Specific recommendations help to

achieve an optimisation by avoid i n g and/or re
ducing emissions or consumption of materials.
The ecological specifications of "eco-devis",
also published by "eco-bau" , were d rawn up
for tenders. These provide advice and recom
mendations concerning the use of materials
and forms of construction that reduce con
sumption of resources to a minimum. It is
noticeable that each of these tools covers only
some of the architect 's services (fig. A 3 . 1 ) .
Lifetime of building materials

Besides the number one priorities of using a

material sparingly and reducing the q uantity to
the necessary minimum, the choice of material,
the combinations and their proper interconnec
tion determine the overall ecological outcome.
For every building component, the respective
lifetime can be calculated from the durabil ity of
the material and the connections to form a type
of construction. Immovable, massive structural
components can last 1 00 years or even longer.
Parts subjected to mechanical actions may
have to be replaced after 1 0 or 20 years
depending on their use.
I n order to sustain the value of a b u i l ding at the
residual value of the basic fabric, maintenance
and repairs must be carried out on all compo
nents corresponding to their specific renewal
cycles. The more long-lasting parts a building
contains, the better will be the ratio between
the materials and initial capital outlay and the
cost of the continual renewal of the structure
(fig. A 3.5) . Basically, it can be said that all
building components with shorter renewal
cycles should be integrated into the structure in
such a way that they can be renewed or



Metal work
Floor finishes
Sanitary appliance
Heating boiler

Windo ws
70% B uilding services

struct ure ,
roof structure

replaced without affectin g longer-lasting com

ponents. The unnecessary demolition and sub
sequent rebuilding of i ntact components mere
ly to gain access to areas requiring refurbish
ment results in unnecessary consumption of
materials (and money), and contradicts the
principle of the careful husbandry of resources.
Limiting the design to just a few materials gen
erally results in a longer lifetime for a structure
because it is easier to coordinate the mainte
nance and repair cycles. The use of many d if
ferent building materials in one construction
leads to higher maintenance costs and in some
situations the premature replacement of certain
However, more attention must be g iven to the
upkeep of ecolog ically oriented building mate
rials, which varies with the actual material.
Untreated timber or l imewashed facades, for
i nstance, require more inspections and care
than those that achieve their weathering and
pest resistance through the use of chemicals.
The time factor

In order to shorten the work processes and to

reduce the cost of building and maintenance,
the time factor often plays a decisive role in the
choice of materials and methods. The preferred
building materials are those that g ive the build
ing process independence from the weather
and al low the work on site to continue through
the winter, also those that shorten the waiting
times between d ifferent trades, and finally also
those that minimise (or at least promise to mini
mise) the cost of subsequent cleaning, care
and upkeep. The ecological and toxicological
issues are not usually given sufficient attention
in this economics-oriented appraisal.

A 3.5

A "modern" timetable and plan therefore con

siders - right from the start - not only the cost
of the provision and operation of the structure,
but also the work and social costs sparked off
indirectly by the choice of building materials
and methods that impact on the environment.
These days, environmentally friendly materials
and methods of processing are available for
the majority of applications - without any note
worthy increase in the cost. There is no longer
any reason to burden the environment indirect
ly through production residues.
So far, the estimate of the specific lifetime of
each component has been based on economic
criteria and interests. However, in many cases
the lifetimes assumed do not coincide with the
actual lifetimes of components or materials,
quite apart from the fact that no figures are yet
available for many of the new materials. The
"Sustainable Building" guidelines published by
Germany's Federal Ministry of Transport, Build
ing and Urban Development provide a starting
point. The guidelines contain a comprehensive
overview of the lifetimes to be expected from all
customary building materials and forms of con
struction - based on the current state of knowl
edge. And the Swiss publication "SIA 480 Economic analysis for investments in building"
provides an up-to-date summary of the life
times to be expected for building components
and building services.
From "pollutor pays" to "precautionary" principle

The world consists of material, energy and

information. The building industry uses energy
to turn raw materials into commodities and
processed building materials. Every stage of
this transformation process from raw material to

The critical path to sustainable construction

deployed in such a way that there is no enforced

"recycling" and , in the end , no enforced disposal
of environmentally incompati ble substances.

Disposal 31 %

Limit, target or minimum values

Reuse 69%

from buildin9 site waste --"",!!I'F'I2.8%

from highways
31 . 1 %
from building
66. 1 %

Other purposes 8.3%

Aggregate for
3. 1 %
1 9.4%

A 3.6

processed material to waste product requires

energy. Some of this is stored in the product,
some is released again, depending on the
transformation stage.
The erection of buildings has consumed an
enormous amount of materials over recent dec
ades. After the l ifetimes of the materials used
for new work and conversions have expired,
there remains a correspondingly large quantity
of waste products. The transformation process
es of industrial materials have an impact on
water, soils and the air. The desire to limit the
damage to the environment gave rise to the
notion of a l ife cycle. Whereas this undoubtedly
applies to natural processes, in the case of
industrial processes it is an appeasing analogy
to nature. The "recyc l i n g " of building materials
is currently limited to a few components and
materials and is also only advisable when a
later reuse can be allowed for in the first use
(fig . A 3.6) .
Owing to the chemical substances used i n the
production of building materials, the d isposal of
building debris is reaching its capacity l imits.
Some demolition waste contains substances
that are extremely problematic in terms of d is
posal or reuse. What that means is more and
more hazardous building debris which must be
classed as special ( i . e . toxic) waste. However,
the "pollutor pays" principle does not apply to
the elimination of existing pollution because the
time between production and disposal is too
long. Therefore, the precautionary principle
should be applied to future structures, i.e. tak
ing into account the later dismantling of the
building in the initial planning and choosing the
materials and forms of construction according
ly. As far as possible, resources should be

Not only in building are limit and target values

stipulated accord ing to the maximum permissi
ble load and reasonableness and not accord
ing to the technically feasible minimum values.
For i nstance, the term "environmentally com
patible" suggests that acceptable effects for
humans and ecosystems can stil l be achieved
with maximum values for emissions and the lim
iti ng of contamination. The stipulation of limit
and target values, maximum or minimum fig
ures is not the result of scientific experimenta
tion, even when it is presented as such in the
publications. Basically, such definitions are
merely attempts to estimate tri g gerin g mecha
n isms and effects about which we know very lit
tle. Looked at in this way, the upper limit for a
level of contamination in no way represents the
optimisation of an environmental state or the
minimisation of an intervention in the ecosys
tem, but rather at best the standardised defini
tion of acceptability and risks for an apparently
irrevocable state. We accept risks as i ntrinsic
to life, but in most cases they can be defined
and therefore avoided. In the "precautionary
principle" hygiene and safety measures are
desirable to achieve maximum prevention. But
the "pollutor pays" principle is based on the
apparently unavoidable risks and consequenc
es of causes and countermeasures.
Elements of risk expectations can be found in
every b u i l d i ng code, every standard and in
countless specifications. The rapid increase i n
synthetic building materials a n d additives has
resulted in a tremendous i ncrease in the pre
cautions-based recommendations and the
specifications placing a burden on the pollutor.
At the same time, the wil l i n g ness to take risks
with unproven materials and daring forms of
construction has i ncreased, which has resulted
in a rise in i nsurance premiums for the residual
risks. A flourishing economic factor has in the
meantime developed around this wi l l i n g ness to
take risks, which means higher build ing costs,
higher overheads.

Therefore, in choosing our materials we should

concentrate on low-emissions building prod
ucts, materials and chemicals. Product deSig
nations, qual ity marks and environmental
awards can be used to assess materials and
products with respect to their potential risks.
Furthermore, technical specifications or safety
information provide data on contents and pos
sible hazards.
The strategy for the choice of products based
on toxicological criteria is based on the minimi
sation principle, i . e . a comparison of alterna
tives in order to select the product with the low
est undesirable contents based on the informa
tion available.

A 3.5

Foreign substances or hazardous substances

If a material is regarded as harmless, then we

assume that the material contains or gives off
no hazardous substances or compounds.
Chemical substances need not necessarily be
unsafe as such, but can become hazardous
substances under certain conditions (see
"Hazardous substances", p. 268).
When we speak of hazardous substances, we
i n itially think of the harmful effects of a material.
Our thoughts range from a neutral foreign sub
stance that is unlikely to exert a dangerous
effect to a substance that is only tolerable in
limited amounts, limited concentrations. There
exists a social consensus that says the intake
of pol lutants or hazardous substances should
generally be prevented.

A 3.6

T h e course o f evaluation o f t h e building in relation

to the durability of the individual components:
a As a building is no longer usable after - at the
most - 60 years if no maintenance is carried
out, it is worthwhile carrying out maintenance
on the residual value of the basic fabric and the
retention of value according to the specific
renewal cycles of its parts. However, it has
been established that the cumulative value of
this renewal work over a period of 1 20 years
adds up to almost 1 .5 times the original cost of
providing the building.
b If the components are selected in such a way
that the renewal cycles can be extended to 20
or 40 years, the cumulative renewal cost drops
by about 30%.
c If, in addition, the diversity of components is
limited in such a way that short-lived compo
nents or components with a hi9h renewal
requirement are avoided, the cumulative
renewal cost compared to the value-retention
cycle of 15 or 30 years is reduced by about
I n the period 1 999-2000 about 89 million tonnes
of building waste and debris (excluding spoil)
accumulated in Germany alone. Of this figure,
about 69% could be reused, primarily in road
a Occurrence and disposal of building debris
b Occurrence of recycled building materials
c Use of recycled buildin9 materials


Criteria for the selection

of building materials
Alexander Rudolphi

For the building industry, the principle of sus

tainability means striving for a minimal con
sumption of energy and resources, a minimal
burden on the natural household and a high
degree of safety and comfort for building occu
pants in all phases of the l ife cycle of a building
- from planning and construction to use and
renewal and finally dismantling or demolition.
These planning targets require a specific con
cept or sub-concepts with d ifferent potential
solutions, alternatives and measures for every
individual project depending on location, size
and purpose. This is therefore an optimisation
process with the aim of uniting the require
ments of the environment with the intended use
of the structure in an economic cost framework.

The aims of sustainable development in the

building industry

The protection goals of sustainability can be

summarised in a number of primary categories:
Protection of the ecosystem and the natural
environment, e . g . against damage to the
atmospheric system by the greenhouse
effect, against the destruction of the ozone
layer, or the destruction of the variety of spe
cies by the overexploitation of ores or over
felling and deforestation by fire in the tropical
rainforests of the Earth.
Protection of natural resources, e . g . against
the consumption of finite resources by the
excessive use of non-renewable raw materi
als, against the uncontrolled consumption of
energy from fossil fuels or through short-lived
structures requiring intensive power supplies
and repairs.
Protection of health, e . g . against harmful
effects caused by poor climatic and hygiene
conditions inside buildings, or against harm
ful effects d uring the extraction of raw materi
als or the manufacture of products.
Protection of social values and public proper
ty, e . g . against excessive development of
areas of water and land.
Safeguarding and retention of capital and
values. Every premature or avoidable
destruction of economic values and assets
by defective, less durable structures inevita
bly leads to a corresponding consumption of
capital and resources and further burdens on
the environment.

A 4.1


Energy audit for a four-storey office building

The formulation of protection goals is the pre

requisite for the recognition of a need for
action, but by itself is not enough for definite,
practical steps in the building industry. That
requires a knowledge of the respective cause
and-effect relationships, a description of the
effects by way of indicators and the stipulation
of assessment benchmarks. In this respect,
environmental research in the building industry
comprises the following steps:

The stipulation of indicators for describing

environmental effects, e.g. the definition of a
global warming potential or an ozone depleti
on potential as quantifiable, calculable vari
ables, the description of comfort indicators
for interior climates, or standardised measu
rements for the effects of pollutants.
The description of the causal relationships
between environmental effects and building
technology actions, e.g. insulating measures,
heating systems and regulating the rate of air
change influence the annual energy require
ment. The formulations and vapour diffusion
properties of materials relevant to surfaces
and storage of heat and moisture have an
influence on the i nterior c l imate and the
cleanliness of the interior air. The geometry of
the building, the arrangement of the layout
and the plan shape influence the consumpti
on of materials.
The provision of verifiable acquisition, quan
tifying and evaluating variables, e . g . uniform
methods of computing total energy, area and
volume requirements, methods for recording
the function-related material consumption, or
computational and simulation methods for
interior c l imates.
Evaluation, selection and description of defi
nite, practical action goals, e . g . a maximum
desirable annual energy requirement, an
acceptable area and volume requirement in
relation to the usage, maximum permissible
summer thermal peaks and times, moisture
and air change rates or an acceptable TVOC
load [1] in time stages.
Principal prerequisites for describing the
effects on people, the environment and the nat
ural household, or the definition of impact cate
gories and indicators, are a thorough knowl
edge of the extraction, production and
processing methods for building products and
materials, a knowledge of their formulations
and compositions, plus their functional, physi
cal and chemical behaviour over a long period
of use.
This means that ecological optimisation poten
tial is mainly based on a comprehensive infor
mation structure or a multitude of measure
ments and analyses of both the building prod
uct and the finished building component. Cur
rent efforts take this requirement into account
by attempting to establish far-reaching declara
tions for building products, providing informa
tion databases available to a wide public, and
developing standardised methods of measure
ment for the physical and chemical properties
of building products and building components.
All the steps mentioned above represent indis
pensable conditions for reproducible, sound,
ecologically oriented decisions. They are also
realistic. Only an accurate analysis of produc
tion, building and utilisation processes offers
the chance to escape from the realm of specu
lative assumptions and random information.

Criteria for the selection of building materials

80 000 000
70 000 000


60 000 000


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30 000 000

20 000 000


1 0 000 000



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Numerous optimisation and evaluation tools for

the goals of design and construction in building
have been devised over recent decades; target
and limit values have been defined and contin
ually updated. A wel l-known tool already availa
ble is the building energy audit, which was
introduced to help reduce the consumption of
fossil fuels and the associated carbon d ioxide
emissions. Target values can only be defined
with the help of corresponding methods of calcu
lation, e.g. the energy requirement of 15 kWh/m2a
for heating, electricity consumption and ventila
tion as a criterion for "passive-energy houses".
But in this field as wel l , further research is still
necessary despite the precise knowledge of
the physical relationships, and this is revealed
time and again when the true total energy
requirements of buildings are found to exceed
the forecasts. In future the aim will be to specify
buildings in terms of a total primary energy fac
tor measured in MJ/m2 which includes all the
forms of operating energy consumption plus
the energy requirement for the production/con
struction of the building and all the materials
consumed - the so-called grey energy.
Fig. A 4. 1 shows the estimate of the grey ener
gy for a new four-storey office building with
approx. 1 6 000 m2 usable floor space (founda
tions, floors and columns in reinforced concrete,
facades and windows in timber) . The total ener
gy requirement for the building is approx.
1 60 000 GJ, or 44 000 MWh. If we spread this
consumption over an operational lifetime of
50 years, the result is approx. 55 kWh /m2a.
The indicators and methods of calculation for
the "life cycle assessment" (LCA) were devel
oped and standardised i nternationally in the
D I N ISO 1 4 040-1 4 043 standards. The aim of
the method is to evaluate primarily g lobal and
regional environmental impacts resulting from
the extraction , production and disposal of
building products. However, this quantitative
method must be restricted to the recording of
known processes and their consequences;
unknown or secondary cause-and-effect rela
tionsh ips cannot be covered by a life cycle


Non-renewable energy

Development of planning and evaluation tools








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A 4. 1

It was not until recently that methods of calcula

tion became available with which complex rela
tionsh ips such as the level of comfort in interi
ors and its effect on the occupants could be
described and optimised. For the first time,
these took account of the individual percep
tions of people statistically by way of a so
called PMV (predicted mean vote) i ndex and
used methods of calculation to develop these
into planning parameters for technical stand
ards and codes. Olfactory effects d ue to emis
sions in interiors were approached in a similar
way. Again, these effects are often not measur
able, and therefore they are assessed using
factors derived from the subjective perceptions
of volunteers.
The description and evaluation of hygiene
aspects has proved to be even more complex.
For this purpose, about 1 50 volatile substances
from building and home products were first
defined and classified according to their volatil
ity (very volatile, volatile and semi-volatile), a
project that was initiated in 1 989 by the Euro
pean Commission. [2] Firstly, as no toxicity
studies were available for the majority of the
i ndividual substances, the total of all the sub
stances contained i n the interior air (TVOC)
was measured and evaluated. This approach
proved to be unsatisfactory because there was
no d ifferentiation between highly toxic and less
problematic substances. For this reason , work
on evaluations of individual substances on sev
eral levels is currently being undertaken to
establish guidelines for internal loads, and
some of these have already found their way
into new methods of assessment for building
products throug h environmental agencies and
regulatory bodies
The object of current research is the applicable
and i nterd iscipl inary methods for the environ
mental goals of easy reparabil ity and durability
of forms of construction. I n future the new
standards 21 930-2 1 932 "Sustainabil ity in
building construction" wi l l attempt to bring
together terminology, indicators, the necessary
underlying data and product declarations plus
methods of evaluation for sustainable building.
Common to all these assessment and optimisa
tion tools is the fact that each covers only a
specific area of effects, a single planning and

construction objective. Of course, in the light of

the complexity and the amount of work
required it is neither possible nor advisable to
consider and use the tools available to evaluate
all environmental targets simultaneously for
every practical decision. For example, when
deciding on a loadbearing material, e . g . con
crete, timber, steel or aluminium, the question
of the cleanliness of the interior air is hardly rel
evant. The main issue here is the environmental
i mpact connected with the provision of such
materials, which can be evaluated with a life
cycle assessment. On the other hand, fitting
out and surface materials have a considerable
effect on the interior hygiene and so the envi
ronmental effects of the manufacturing proc
esses retreat into the background.

Criteria and indicators for sustainable con


From a practical viewpoint it is therefore impor

tant to transfer the aforementioned general pro
tection goals affecting the choice of building
materials and the optimisation of forms of con
struction i nto practical optimisation targets, and
to allocate the respective descriptive and eval
uation tools available to these targets. To sup
plement this, the optimisation targets can be
assigned to the phases of construction corre
sponding to the respective associated deci
sion-making and action stages.

Preliminary and draft design

Selecting products and processes to save

ma terials and minimise environmental impact:

Plan layout that saves materials and allows

flexible utilisation.
Optimisation of materials used with regard to
their g l obal and regional environmental
impact caused by extraction, production and
Preference for materials and products availa
ble locally to avoid transport.
Saving of resources, preference for renewa
ble materials or those with long-term availa
Avoidance of materials whose production
processes are associated with severe risks in
the case of malfunctions or those in which
hazardous substances are required for the
production process.
Recommending materials that can be recy
cled with minimal loss of properties and with
out being l inked to a particular function, plus
composite products and elements that can
be reverse-engineered locally.
Recommending materials whose manufactur
ing processes i nclude the environmentally
friendly use of recycled materials.


Criteria for the selection of building materials

Hygiene and health, interior clima te:

Safeguarding natural l ighti ng when designing

the plan layout.
I nsulation to prevent overheating in summer
and heat dissipation by specifying storage
Whereas the need for plan layouts and forms of
construction that save materials and permit
flexible utilisation is a wel l-known part of the
planning process which can be evaluated by
way of specifying floor areas and standardised,
large grids, a realistic assessment of the envi
ronmental relevance of materials is much hard
er. In the context of the draft desi g n , the selec
tion of the main materials or deciding between
possible construction alternatives - e . g . for
facade, roof construction or ground slab requires an analysis and relative evaluation of
the environmental effects with respect to the
materials chosen, or rather their extraction, pro
duction and provision processes.
Quantitative life cycle assessment

The l ife cycle assessment (LCA) procedure

developed over the last 20 years and standard
ised in ISO 1 4 040-1 4 043 - four evaluation
parts necessary with i n the scope of a complete
evaluation of the most i mportant materials can be used as a method of evaluation.
Accord ing to these standards, the construction
or material alternatives must first be analysed
from the ecological viewpoint and quantified
with respect to environmental impacts. In addi
tion to this, ecological effects that can be esti
mated qualitatively - if applicable and known must be specified and weig hted accord ing to
their significance. Afterwards, the costs of the
alternatives are investigated, and fina l ly the
socio-cultural aspects are listed. The latter
includes such factors as strengthening the
regional economy by restricting the invitation to
tender to a certain region, the architectural
requests of the users, or the integration i nto the
neighbourhood. The final decision is based on
bringing together all the individual results.
Listed below - and based on D I N ISO 1 4 042
" I mpact assessment" - are the most important
indicators or impact categories defined in the
l ife cycle assessment which should be used in
the quantitative evaluation depen d i n g on the
data available:
primary energy input (PEI)
Aproportion of renewable ( ER) and non
renewable energy (NER) in the energy con
Frequently, only the primary energy input nec
essary for the provision of materials is incl uded
in the comparative evaluation. However, this
so-called grey energy should be further broken
down into renewable and non-renewable forms
of energy in order to distinguish environmental
ly friendly production methods.
A 4.2


Life cycle assessment for concrete: variations with

and without recycled aggregates

In addition to this, the energy requirement dur

ing the entire l ife cycle, including any recycling
potential if applicable, can be used as the
"cumulative energy i nput" accord ing to
VD1 4600. The energy requirement during the
period of use of the building is estimated by
way of assumptions or scenarios.
In a comprehensive q uantitative assessment,
the primary energy input is i ncluded in the eval
uation by way of the environmental effects
caused by the energy generation:
global warming potential (GWP)
ozone depletion potential (ODP)
acid ification potential (AP)
eutrophication potential (EP) or nutrification
potential (NP)
photochemical ozone creation potential
CO2 storage (for regenerative raw materials)
space requirements
Owing to the complex data, the indicators (also
defined for the life cycle assessment) for the
toxicity of the provision processes are mostly
used only for significant ind ividual evaluations.
Examples of this are the heavy metals abraded
from copper, zinc or lead oxides by rainfall and
their toxic effects in the soi l , or the use of par
ticular poisons such as phosgene and isocy
anate as by-products in the production of poly
urethane. For this reason, the following indica
tors have also been defined:
aquatic ecotoxicity (ECA)
terrestrial ecotoxicity (ECT)
human toxicological classification (HT)
Expressed simply, all the ind ividual steps of the
necessary extraction and production process
es - and wherever possible also the utilisation
and disposal processes - are described within
the scope of a quantitative l ife cycle assess-

ment to ISO 1 4 040. Product units to be com

pared must match exactly in terms of their
functions (functional unit) . The i nput-output
analysis produced in this way is cal led a life
cycle inventory analysis. Wherever possible,
the ind ividual values recorded for the afore
mentioned impact categories are grouped
together (impact assessment) . Different peri
ods of use must be considered where appl ica
ble. The necessary respective renewal cycles
for building components or ind ividual building
component layers for an assumed period of
use of 80 or 1 00 years are calculated as a fac
tor and multipl ied by the result of the impact
The final evaluation of the indicators deter
m i ned can be carried out - depending on the
situation - based on the severity of the conse
quences (ecological risk) , a relative compari
son of variations, or the significance of the
effects in relation to an existi ng environmental
burden (distance to target) . This latter evalua
tion principle is often anticipated by calculating
the life cycle assessment on the basis of just a
few indicators - those regarded as particularly
i mportant.
Qualitative environmental effects

I n the second step of our overall evaluation, we

consider the fact that numerous, essentially
acknowledged but disadvantageous environ
mental effects cannot be covered by the quan
tifiable impact categories - partly because the
relationships are not fully understood . These
ecological effects must be specified in addition
to the calculated life cycle assessment results
mentioned above and considered in qual itative
terms. These include:
the irreversible impairment or destruction of
the infrastructure required for production and

80 %
60 %
40 %
20 %



_ni l

."n _I n--;n

-20 %
-40 %


-60 %
-80 %
- 1 00 %





- Variation 0: grade C 25/30 without recycled aggregates, local





Variation 1 : grade C 25/30 with 35% recycled aggregates obtained locally

D Variation 2: grade C 25/30 with 35% recycled aggregates not obtained locally
D Variation 3: grade C 25/30 with 1 00% recycled aggregates, higher cement content

A 4.2

Criteria for the selection of building materials

the supervisory work required to safeguard

the industrial processes and the scope of the
industrial processing stages
the potential risk of intermediate products
the probab i lity of reuse
A typical example of qual itative reason i n g i s
the desirable avoidance o f timber obtained
from overfelling in tropical rainforests (fig .
A 4.4) . The effects in the form o f the destruction
of the ecosystems and the loss of d iversity of
flora and fauna species are hardly measurable.
Appropriate bans or the demand for the certifi
cation of timber obtained from sustainable for
ests, i . e . a "Forest Stewardship Council" (FSG)
certificate, are therefore environmental pol icy
decisions based on qual itative assessments.
Until recently, the analysis of materials and
forms of construction in a l ife cycle assessment
was sti ll very time-consum i n g and costly, and
could not be integrated into a planning proc
ess. In addition, the life cycle assessment
required extensive, generally accepted data on
all the materials to be considered. Today, the
situation with the data has improved to such an
extent that a comparative appraisal on the
basis of the life cycle assessment can be car
ried out alongside the planning work, provided
we limit ourselves to the best-documented and
most important impact categories. Furthermore,
the auditing and calculation work has been
eased considerably by the appearance of suit
able computer programs.
Life cycle assessments are a suitable way of
checking the real ity of what appears to be - on
the face of it - plausi ble, ecologically founded
argumentation. We shall use the example of i n
situ concrete to illustrate this.
In principle, it is possible to produce in situ
concrete with recycled mineral aggregates. I n
order to compensate for the risk to the strength
that can occur when using these "scrap" mate
rials, an increase in the cement content is pre
scribed for a recycled aggregate content > 35%.
At first, the use of recycled materials appears
to be sensible in principle. A num ber of varia
tions are compared here for a practical deSig n
situation :

result: the zero line of the d iagram represents

normal-weight concrete without recycled
aggregate; the vertical bars represent the
improvement or worsening of the effects as
It can be seen that owing to the transportation
required and the extra cement, in the most
important impact categories the environmental
impact rises as we increase the content of
recycled material. Only the indicator for the
consumption of materials decreases. So the
use of recycled aggregates in concrete
relieves the burden on the environment only
when the aggregates are obtained from a near
by site 1 00 km) and if there is a scarcity of
aggregates in the form of gravel or sand in the
reg ion of the batching plant, which it could also
be due to l i m its placed on the quarrying of
such materials.
This example clearly reveals that even after
drawing up a comprehensive life cycle assess
ment, the results are not necessarily generally
applicable to all projects or all regions. Each
individual case m ust be checked to establish
whether ind ividual effects play a particular role.
Comparison of costs

Cost comparisons in building are generally per

formed by way of the well-known cost estimate,
cost calculation and cost control. The crux of
the problem in cost comparisons i s the estimate
of the cost of usage because this requires
knowledge about the anticipated costs of main
tenance and renewal. Several computer-assist
ed approaches based on the costs breakdown
according to D I N 276 are available. [4] How
ever, these do not permit any flexible treatment
of the durability of building components or lay
ers (in a sense of optimising sustainability). The
costs including cost of usage and cost of d is
posal/demolition are known as the l ife cycle
costs. In conjunction with efforts to harmonise
the methods and to develop sustainability indi
cators for buildings, a dynamic, quality-related
durabi lity estimate for building components
and products is currently u ndergoing develop
ment. [5]

Detail design

normal-weight concrete, grade C 25/30,

without recycled aggregates
concrete, grade C 25/30, with 35% recycled
aggregates obtained locally 1 00 km)
concrete, grade C 25/30, with 35% recycled
aggregates not obtained locally (> 1 00 km)
concrete, grade C 25/30, with 1 00% recycled
aggregates (can be approved for i ndividual
projects) obtained locally, plus higher
cement content
As the recycled aggregates should be as uni
form as possible and hence are best obtained
from a single demolition site, the material may
well have to be transported over long d i stanc
es, which is why the distance parameter < 1 00
km/> 1 00 km is relevant. Fig A 4.2 shows the

Selecting products and processes to save mate

rials and minimise environ mental impact:

Planning of building services (electrics, hoV

cold water, heating) to save materials through
an optimised arrangement of sanitary and
supply zones, service routes and supply
Water-saving systems.
Reducing the conversion and renewal work
during the period of use by choosing d urable
and reparable component forms that al low
flexi bility of usage.
Building with recycl i n g i n mind by using spl it
table, mechanically detachable component
layers or homogeneous material assemblies.

Hygiene and health, interior clima te:

Ventilation systems and ventilation rates.

Optim isation of the interior climate conditions
through the release of heat over a large area
without convection.
Safeguarding of a comfortable and healthy
i nterior c l imate through optimised ventilation
design, optimised supply and removal of
heat, plus the provision of sufficient storage
Optimisation of sound insulation.
Quality assurance for detail design work

The optimisation targets of the long-term guar

antees for the functions of building compo
nents, the ease of repair and the flexibil ity
regarding change-of-use requirements can be
grouped together under the heading of durabil
ity. This variable which has to be estimated is,
of course, not a fixed value, but instead to a
large extent dependent on the quality of design
and workmanship. Depending on the quality
assurance measures, it is not usual these days
to replace wooden double-glazed windows
until after 1 0, 20 or even 50 years. Likewise, in
an entrance zone a floor covering with adjacent
walk-off mats wi l l last much longer than one
without such mats. As already explained, it is
vital to know the estimated durabil ity of a build
ing component when assuming renewal cycles
and hence for the chronological part of the life
cycle assessment and life cycle costin g (LCG).
The q uality to be optimised here is commonly
referred to as the experience of the architect,
engineer or contractor i nvolved. Unlike with the
evaluation of the environmental effects of mate
rials during extraction of raw materials, produc
tion and d isposal , there is still no uniform tool
for assessing the technical-constructional qual
ity attained and the achievable useful l ife of a
building component; however, research into
this is ongoi n g , and this work allows us to dis
cern a n u m ber of fundamentals.
One important criterion for optimising the dura
b i l ity is the more or less successful concur
rence of properties and risks (sensitivities) of
the material on the one hand, and the function
al req u i rements and loads on the building com
ponent on the other. The result improves as the
number of loads coinciding with sensitivities
decreases, and the number of desirable func
tions coinciding with the typical properties of
the material increases.
This leads to a second criterion: how the poten
tial damage resulting from the convergence of
particular loads and material-specific risks i s
compensated for in technical a n d construction
al terms.
The third criterion concerns the question of the
detachability of connections in a building com
ponent and hence the issue of reparability and
partial renewal. The q uestion regarding the
respective main uses of the building compo
nent are important here. In the case of surfaces
in particular, it is very l i kely that one of the main
uses will b e aesthetics, which can lead to a
fashion-, taste- or identity-related replacement


Criteria for the selection of building materials

of otherwise fully functional and trouble-free

surfaces or products. A similar situation is
found with components such as sanitary appli
ances, which are heavily influenced by culture.
In such cases mechanical , easily detached
connections should be chosen in order to mini
mise the consumption of materials in the event
of replacement. In the case of concealed, pure
ly technical components such as waste-water
pipes, waterproofing systems or load bearing
components, it is the technical dura b i l ity that
must be g iven priority. I ndustrially manufac
tured composite elements may represent an
improvement in quality, although they should
always be checked for the separability of the
different materials to aid recycl i n g .

A 4.3

Comfort index

Tendering, award of contract and work on

I n recent years, the boundary conditions

responsible for a healthy and agreeable i nterior
climate have been standardised in the regula
tions with increasing precision, and have been
fleshed out with target values. This concerns
such important aspects as the airtightness of
buildings (measured using the blower door
technique to EN 1 3 829) , the m i n i m u m air
change rate (0.6-0. 7 times the volume of the
room per hour for removing pollutants and car
bon d ioxide from the i nterior air) , or the avoid
ance of cold bridges and mould g rowth (by
using appropriate calculation methods to
DIN EN ISO 1 0 2 1 1 .
Moreover, the perceived comfort in an interior
depends on the air speed of the convection
currents, the cold air radiated from walls and
soffits, and the temperature stratification. The
interaction of the individual influences plus their
physical effects and individual, subjective per
ceptions cannot be solved with simple, physi
cal relationships or algorithms. Therefore, the
subjective perceptions of volunteers were
included in D I N EN ISO 7730 for determi n i n g
the thermal comfort conditions. T h e P M V (pre
dicted mean vote) index represents an assess
ment of the thermal comfort and is formed by
combining several physical boundary condi
tions. The PPD (predicted percentage of dis
satisfied) index is a statistical function of the
PMV and describes a forecasted figure for d is
satisfied persons in per cent. We distinguish
between three qual ity categories: A, B and C.
These are the same as the climatic req uire
ments of both D I N EN ISO 7730 and Swiss
standard SIA 1 80, which should be used when
planning climate-regulating forms of construc
tion, e.g. for the desig n of thermal storage
masses available in the interior, when conceiv
ing the removal of heat in the summer, the ven
tilation systems, or the design and construction
of thermally insulatin g components and their
internal surfaces.



Selecting products and processes to save mate

rials and minimise environmental impact:

Safeguarding of the long-term retention of

value and sustainable functionality of forms of
construction and bui lding components
throug h inviting tenders for qual ity-controlled
building materials, products or components
and throug h a detailed functional description
of the building works desired.
Selection of solvent-free chemical products.
Avoidance of products with environmental
and health risks in the extraction and produc
tion processes.
Low-waste buildi n g , recovery of residues.
Ensuring a low-noise and low-dust building
site, avoidance of groundwater contamina
tion, pollution and dangerous methods of
Hygiene a n d health, in terior clima te:

Selection of non-hazardous and Iow-emissi

ons surface materials.
Avoidance of materials with higher fire risks
caused by high smoke densities or corrosive
and , in addition, toxic fumes.
Prevention of radon loads in the building from
the subsoil throug h correspond i n g sealing
measures to the ground slab and the base
ment walls.
Avoidance of electrostatic fields and surface
charges during usage throug h the specifica
tion of conductive products for floor cove
rings or office fittings in the tender.
As a rule, it is the tender documentation that
first specifies details to the extent that specific
products, connections and assembl ies can be
d istinguished for the internal fitting-out trades.
In the case of public-sector building projects
especially, the nomination of specific products
is only permissible in exceptional cases, and
they are mostly not known until the bid is
received - provided the req u i rements for nam
ing products were correctly specified in the
tender documents. The ecology and hygiene
req u i rements the products should meet must
be known and specified in full during this stage

of the project at the latest.

The interior air generally contains a broad
spectrum of organic materials as wel l as dust
and fibres. The source of these is people them
selves ( breathing, body odour) and the activi
ties people are apt to perform indoors, e . g .
smoking, cooking, etc. , but also b u i l d i n g mate
rials and internal finishes and fittings, which
may g ive off chemical compounds. Depending
on their concentration and composition, the
internal air can become overloaded, which may
i mpair the comfort or even the health of the
occupants, and in this respect poor climatic
conditions reinforce such negative influences.
Such i mpurities are becoming a problem as
buildings become more airtight and the air
change rates decrease.
Airborne pollution from organic substances

Emissions from surface coverings and coatings

on buildings, assembl ies, furnishings and fit
tings can give rise to organic contamination.
Building components made from organic mate
rials in particular, e . g . plastics, paints or adhe
sives, contribute significantly to airborne pollu
tion. In order to develop an evaluation tool for
this, a list of approx. 1 50 volatile substances
(volatile organic compounds - VOC) [6] fre
quently encountered was drawn up. These are
d ivided into the following classes (based on
boiling point) :
very volatile organic compounds (WOC),
boi l i n g point < 0-50 to 1 00C
volati le organic compounds (VOC) , boi ling
point 50-1 00 to 240-260C
semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOC) ,
boiling point 240-260 to 380-400C
The sum of all these substances is known as
the total VOC (TVOC) . As toxicolog ical studies
are lacking for the majority of these substanc
es, and therefore there are no useful limit val
ues available for interiors, the German Environ
mental Agency has set target values for TVOC
measurements which are applicable in Germany:
short-term ( 1 -2 months) :
approx. 1 500-2500 IJg/m2
long-term ( 1 -2 years) :
approx. 200-300 IJg/m2

Criteria for the selection of building materials

Owing to the highly disparate toxicities of the

i ndividual substances, evaluations of individual
substances are currently bein g carried out one
by one within the scope of the initiative "Euro
pean Collaborative Action: I ndoor air qual ity
and its impact on man". According to this, two
guide values for i ndoor air qual ity - RW I (desir
able value) and RW II ( intervention value with
clean-up recommendation) - are specified for
the individual substances. To date, substances
such as styrene, benzene, naphthalene and
formaldehyde have been assessed.
The VOC measurements are the final results of
evaluations and are not suitable as planning
values. To help choose ind ividual materials rel
evant to surfaces in a tender, a method of eval
uation was developed recently in which the
products themselves can be classified and cer
tified on the basis of VOC test chamber meas
urements (prEN 1 3 41 9) over a period of 28
days. According to this, building products must
exhibit the property "suitable for use in interi
ors" corresponding to an evaluation scheme
specified by the German I nstitute of Building
Technology ( D I Bt) . This property must be veri
fied for products requiring approval using test
chamber measurements provided by the man
ufacturers and must be declared in the product
The boundary conditions for the measurements
are to be stipulated and recorded by the labo
ratory appointed to do the work based on the
DIBt criteria. This method of evaluation can be
specified for primary and surface materials
such as floor coverings, door leaves, faces of
built-in items, and wallpapers.
Using the product specification, the final emis
sion values reached in i nteriors cannot be sim
ulated with adequate reliabil ity, which contrasts
with the building performance planning of the
interior climate. The design of internal surfaces
is therefore carried out primarily according to
the principle of avoidance, i .e. by concentrat
ing on low-emissions and zero-emissions mate
rials (e. g . all mineral surfaces) , and where low
emissions are acceptable, by choosing certi
fied products. Numerous certification systems
are already in place, usually in the form of trade
organisation awards, e . g . the Emissions Code
for floor coverings and adhesives ( EC-1 ) , the
certification for wal l paints with zero emissions
and zero solvents (ELF), or the RAL environ
ment symbol for paints issued by Germany's
Environmental Agency ("Iow emissions and low
pollutants" RAL UZ 1 2) .
Besides the organic impurities in the interior air,
man-made mineral fi bres or organic fi bres rep
resent another possi ble hazard. Since 1 995 the
formulations of mineral insulating fibres, for
instance, have been changed in such a way
that the so-called bio-persistence (presence of
ultra-fine fibres in the lungs or pulmonary fluid)
and hence the carcinogenic potential was able
to be reduced in accordance with the size defi
nition of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
[7] Of course, even coarser fibres represent a
potential risk for human respiratory tracts. Fibre

i nsulating materials are used internally mainly

in l i ghtweight partitions, suspended ceilings,
floor insulation and window junctions. These
assemblies and details must be designed to
prevent the fibres getting into the interior air, i .e.
sealed. As a relative scale for the contamination
in a room, the background contamination of the
exterior air - which varies considerably from
region to region - can be used (e. g . in Berlin
approx. 300-500 WHO-definition fibres/m3) .
Owing to the passage of air through joints and
junctions, this background contamination usu
ally exists i nside buildings as well and should
not be worsened by adding fibres from building
components and materials.

Application of optimisation tools

[1 J Total Volatile Organic Compounds
[2J European Collaborative Action: Indoor Air Quality and
its Impact on Man (ECA)
[3J The FSC certificate regulates the sustainable
management of forests. It is often demanded by
public-sector clients in Europe in conjunction with the
"Chain of Custody" trade certificate.
[4J GEFMA 2000: Kostenrechnung im Facility Manage
ment; PLAKODA, Planungs- und Kostendaten;
Schmitz, Heinz, et a l . : Baukosten 2004 - I nstandset
zung, Sanierung, Modernisierung, Umnutzung,
Essen, 2003
[5J ISO/TC/59: Item Buildings and Constructed Assets
Sustainability in Building construction - Sustainability
[6J A list of the TVOC groups can be found in the
g lossary, p. 269
[7J Corresponding rock wool fibres are declared as
having "reduced bio-persistence". Glass wool fibres
are characterised by the "carcinogenicity index" (Ki),
which may not be less than 40: Ki ;;, 40.

The information structure required for the appli

cation of the aforementioned optim isation tools
is being constantly improved by the g rowing
declaration requirements for building products.
The introduction of additional certification sys
tems by the manufacturers, the provision by
trade organisations of data records for life
cycle assessment calculations and the devel
opment of standardised methods of measure
ment have led to the methods of evaluation
bein g included in the design and construction
phases of building projects without any signifi
cant time and cost d isadvantages. However,
owing to the information that must be gathered,
the appointment of appropriate experts as con
sultants for drawing up comparative l ife cycle
assessments for important components or for
the ecological quality control of tenders and
workmanship is recommended for larger con
struction projects.
Besides the ecologically optimised selection of
main materials and components, another focus
of the optimisation work is the writing of the ten
der documents, the product declarations of the
suppliers and the constant inspection of work
manship. The finished structure can comply
with the sustai nability requirements only if these
have been stated in detail in the tender docu
ments without reference to any products. I n
numerous projects i t has proved beneficial to
demand - at the latest after opting for a certain
bid - a binding declaration for the products
and by-products to be used with the help of a
list of products ( i ncluding the safety and certifi
cation information ) , and to make this a compo
nent of the contract award and contract docu
ments. Only after target values regarding pri
mary energy i nput, comfort or hygiene have
become part of the contract can they be
checked upon completion of the structure and,
if applicable, be demanded as an agreed
property within the scope of the warranty. I n
future, defects in the environmental quality of
buildings will increasingly represent a verifiable
design error.
A 4.3
A 4.4

Transport distances should also be considered

when selecting building materials.
Destruction of the environment in the tropics


The development of
innovative materials
Dirk Funhoff

Physical materials flow - to building site

- Influence on choice of material - for building

The building industry is not regarded as an

innovative sector. According to a survey of
Swiss companies carried out in 1 999, the pro
portion of sales of i nnovative products in the
building sector is just 1 0. 7 % , which does not
compare favourably with the average figure of
37. 1 % for all sectors of industry. Just 24% of
the companies polled carry out R&D work,
compared to 49% for industry as a whole. [ 1 ]
High g rowth rates in the building industry are a
thing of the past. In Germany low demand has
resulted in many years of stagnation. Extensive
regulations, standards and approval proce
dures make changes difficult; i ncreasing com
plexity puts up the costs. At the same time,
people are sti l l looking for hig h-qual ity faci l ities
for work and play. New findings in the field of
housing physiology demand modified prod
ucts; high demands need to be satisfied with
out excessive price rises. In the light of all this,
the need for innovations i s rising.
This chapter attempts to i l lustrate the develop
ment of i nnovative materials for homes and
building, and to foster the mutual understand
ing of those involved in this process.
What is innovation?

A 5.1
A 5.2


Simplified diagram of the value-creation network

in the building industry
Thermal conductivities of various materials

The term "innovation" is frequently used simply

as a synonym for "new" or "novel". But new
ness, i . e . the invention of a new material or new
effect, is not enough by itself. I nnovation is the
establishment in the marketplace of a new
technical or organisational idea, not just the
invention of such. [2] This economic aspect
explains why innovations offer great chances;
i nnovators enjoy a better reputation i n the mar
ket (also for their standard products) and they
are attri buted greater competence, which in
turn is reflected in a higher acceptance of their
The term "innovation" is frequently used simply
as a synonym for "new" or "novel". But new
ness, i . e . the invention of a new material or new
effect, is not enough by itself. I nnovation is the
establishment in the marketplace of a new
technical or organisational idea, not just the
invention of such. [2] This economic aspect
explains why innovations offer great chances;
innovators enjoy a better reputation in the mar
ket (also for their standard products) and they

A 5. 1

are attributed greater competence, which in

turn is reflected in a hig her acceptance of their
Marketing success is vital to innovation. It is
therefore not sufficient merely to describe
which new materials or technologies exist. [4]
Their development takes place within certain
boundary conditions, which restrict the use and
availability of the new materials. Placing these
products in a fresh context is "new", but the
desirability triggered is often neither sensible
nor satisfyin g in the long-term. And if the mar
keting success is not realised, then we have no
innovation . If those involved in innovation proc
esses and the value-creation network of the
building industry could learn to understand
each other better and improve the coordination
of their processes, it would open up a major
chance for i nnovation.
Boundary conditions

Innovation on the material side is advanced by

researchers or developers in the laboratories of
the raw materials and building materials indus
tries, even if there are impulses from other
branches such as architecture or design. From
the scientist's viewpoint, material in the more
precise definition means "substance, raw mate
rial or medi um". [5] From this they (also) create
materials whose shape, colour, etc. are adapt
ed to various applications. Architects and
designers deploy these materials in order to
create a desirable environment in which to
build and l ive. I n order to modify the products
to match their ideas, they contact the suppliers.
However, the suppliers do not always have the
abil ities to influence the underlying "fabric" of
the materials because the value-creation net
work is so complex (fi g . A 5 . 1 ) .
Which materials are actually used in building
work is decided by those by those working on
the building site. The manufacturers of building
products or the raw materials suppliers do not
play an active role and are seldom called in to
answer questions regarding choice of materi
The story is different in the automotive and avi
ation industries. In these industries the manu
facturers of the end products hold discussions
with components and raw materials suppliers

The development of innovative materials

and define the specifications of the materials.

This joint approach g uarantees innovation:
when the new material satisfies the require
ments of, for instance, a car manufacturer, it is
also employed in the production of those cars,
i.e. the marketing success is highly probable.
A primary impetus for this type of development
can be found in the structure of these sectors:
in the automotive industry the 1 0 largest com
panies have a global market share exceeding
80%; in civil aviation the two aircraft manufac
turers Boeing and Airbus rule the market. But
the situation is very different in the building
industry: with a global value of approx. 3.8 tri l
lion US dollars, the 1 00 largest companies together accounting for 373 bi llion US dollars enjoy a market share of less than 1 0% . [6]
The industry is highly fragmented, the demand
very heterogeneous; therefore, an integrated
approach is harder to realise. Nevertheless,
such a model can be transferred to the building
industry. Here again, the objective is, after all,
to optimise materials with a view to satisfying
human requirements - including "soft" factors
such as aesthetics or haptics. But such factors
are subjective and difficult to quantify, and
therefore have not yet found their way into the
industry's development laboratories. I n order to
achieve that, users need to know not only
which options new materials offer, but also
understand how their development functions,
which boundary conditions apply and how they
can be influenced. On the other han d , develop
ers in their laboratories must learn to under
stand better which needs an architect or a
designer is trying to satisfy.
A researcher is driven by curiosity and an
enthusiasm for something new. There is cer
tainly no great difference here between a
researcher and an architect or a designer. Like
sport has its motto "further, faster, higher", lab
oratories work with the maxim "smal ler, l i ghter,
smarter" . Basically, the idea is an ongoing
improvement of the technical properties of
materials. With an increasing understanding of
the physical and chemical properties of a
material , the researcher is in the position to
manipulate these and combine them to form
new types of property profiles.
The flood of information

In the natural sciences and technology we are

currently witnessing an unprecedented explo
sion of knowledge. According to a study car
ried out in the 1 960s, the natural sciences grew
exponentially between 1 650 and 1 950, i.e. our
knowledge doubled every 1 5 years or so. [7]
Since the 1 970s growth has slowed and stabi
lised at a high level. [8] At present, some four
million articles dealing with the natural sciences
and technology are publ ished every year that 's about 20 000 every working day, [9] and
doesn't even include the output of the arts and
These figures show that trying to retain an over
view of all aspects of knowledge is hopeless the age of the universal scholar is over. Further-

more, it is becoming more difficult to distin

guish the relevant results from the less relevant.
As we know more and more, the input req u i red
for new d iscoveries increases (decreasing
fringe benefits) . What this means is that funda
mentally new materials are d iscovered less and
less often ; for example, further chemical ele
ments are no longer "discovered" in nature, but
instead briefly "created" in horrendously
expensive particle accelerators.
Consequently, these days we focus more and
more on novel , creative combinations of known
materials in order to generate new effects, or
transfer effects to other materials. This
approach leads to a g igantic number of combi
nation options, which very q uickly g ives the
impression of new technologies and applica
tions. But many new technologies are old
friends i n new g uises; however, their applica
tion or interpretation in a new context does offer
new possibilities and chances. The challenge
for the future is to steer the development proc
ess and turn the many ideas i nto innovative
Developments in materials

More and more, the R&D departments of indus

try are under pressure to i mprove their effec
tiveness, i . e . to identify the right themes and
develop these accordingly. I n the meantime,
prior to the start of any research , the potential
marketin g chances and the potential profits are
analysed alongside the technological aspects.
Only when the first two factors show a positive
result can the developers embark on the ever
more costly research work. [ 1 0]
I n the first p lace, technological parameters
form the guidelines for the development: q uan
tifiable effects and properties are important
prerequisites for a targeted development. Two
examples of this are thermal insulation and
phase change materials (PC M ) :
Thermal insulation

The optimisation of thermal insulation materials

is based on a precise analysis of the physical
principles of heat conduction. The thermal con
ductivity of an insulating material depends on
the thermal conductivity of the solid (e.g. poly
styrene, stone), the thermal conductivity of the
gas (e.g. air) and heat radiation. In doing so,
we assume that convection in the gas i s pre
vented by suitable measures (foam, fibre com
posite) . Therefore, we get the following equa
tion for thermal conductivity:

ASOlid +

Aceu gas


As a low A-value represents an increase i n the

thermal insulation capacity, the strategy for fur
ther work is clear: each of the above factors
must be minimised, a goal that industry has
pursued systematically.
A vacuum is the best insulator, followed by
gases and solids (fig . A 5.2). All known natural
and man-made insulating materials are based


Thermal conductivity
[W/m K]

Structural steel


Normal-weight concrete


Solid clay products









0. 1 3 -0. 1 6



Carbon dioxide

0.0 1 6


A 5.2

on this law of physics. From animal skins to

high-tech thermal insulation composite sys
tems, all make use of the same principle. But
there are still further opportunities for improve
On the graph of an expanded polystyrene foam
we see that the heat radiation in the infrared
range plays a considerable (negative) role,
especially when the foam is thin (fi g . A 5.3). I n
order t o halt the infrared radiation, infrared
absorbers or reflectors can be incorporated
into the matrix of the foam - of course without
damaging the cell formation or the other good
properties of this insulating material. Appropri
ate methods are available to i ntroduce such
infrared absorbers, e . g . in the form of graphite,
into the foam beads. It is therefore possible
to reduce the thermal conductivity of the poly
styrene foam even further (fig . A 5.5). IR absorb
er-modified polystyrene insulating materials
can be up to 50% thinner than conventional
insulating materials with the same density and
same insulating performance (fig. A 5.4) . This
proves to be an advantage when modernising
existin g buildings, where there is not always
sufficient space for an adequately thick layer of
insulation. But I R absorber-modified polysty
rene insulating materials have already been
used for new building work too, e . g . in the
Petra Winery in Tuscany by Mario Botta.
But the developments in thermal insulation go
even further. The recognition that cell gas
makes a s ubstantial contribution to heat con
duction (fi g . A 5.3) led to two new approaches
aimed at minimising this disadvantage:
vacuum i nsulation (complete avoidance of
cell gas)
nanocel l ular foams (freezing the molecular
movement of the cell gas)

The first approach resulted in the so-called

vacuum insulation panels (VIP) , which consist
of an open-pore core (e.g. silicic acid powder
or polyurethane foam) with a gastight covering
(see "I nsu lating and sealing", p. 1 39). Owing to
its cell structure, the open-pore foam enables
the element to be evacuated (fig . A 5 . 1 0) . This
means thermal conductivities of 0.004-0.008


The development of innovative materials

Thermal conductivity
).. [W/mK]


J i

\ I


Cell gas (air)

PS m trix




Infr ed radiition




Density <P [kg/m3 J

Thermal conductivity
).. [W/mKJ


A 5.3




IR absorber-modified EPS


Phase change materia ls for passive cooling







Density <P [kg/m3 J
A 5.4

Parameters of an expanded polystyrene foam and

the various contributions to heat conduction
Thermal conductivities of IR absorber-modified
EPS in comparison to conventional EPS depend
ing on the density
The principle of infrared absorption
The principle of nanocellular foam
a Macrofoam: cell gas has a large
influence on thermal conductivity
b Nanofoam: cell gas has no
influence on thermal conductivity

A 5.3
A 5.4

A 5.5
A 5.6




- IR absorber

. ------l>=-,J;;!t

A 5.5

A phase change material (PCM) i s a substance

in which heat is stored by means of a phase
transition (e.g. sol id to liquid). The temperature
of the material remains constant until the phase
transition has been completed. The stored heat
(or cold) is invisi ble, but present in a latent
state. Such materials have been known for a
long time. [ 1 1 ] For example, the use of ice to
cool a drink is an application of the phase
change principle: as long as the ice melts, the
drink remains cool because the heat is used to
melt the ice.
However, in order to master this principle on a
technical level , some development work was
necessary first. Materials with a phase transi
tion in the desired temperature range had to be
found, and these then had to be housed in cor
responding containers because the storage of
heat is generally associated with a melting of
the material. In the first applications solar heat
was stored in tanks filled with salt hydrates techn ically elaborate and offering l ittle flexi b i lity
for practical applications. Later, paraffin was
used as an alternative; paraffin can be stored
in sealed plastic containers and panels.
One of the first applications of this macro
encapsulated phase change material was i n
Switzerland. "Solar House 1 1 " in Ebnat-Kappel
by Dietrich Schwarz has a heat storage ele
ment consisting of paraffin-filled plastic boxes
fitted into a g lass wal l , which acts as a buffer
against excessive heat in the summer, and as
a solar energy store in the winter. A cleverly
arranged prism in front of the phase change
material prevents overheatin g in summer and
enables the heat gains in winter. [ 1 2 ]
The most obvious next - technology-driven step was to transfer the encapsulation to the
microscopic level. The first attempts using

0.1 mm


W/mK can be achieved - values wel l below

those of conventional insulating materials. Such
vacuum insulation panels are already on the
market. Their potential applications are current
ly being i nvestigated more closely in various
pilot projects. We are on the brink of an i nnova
tion. One disadvantage of these elements is
their vulnerabil ity to mechanical damage, which
calls for great care during installation. How
ever, such systems have already been used in
industrially prefabricated appliances, e.g.
Nanocellular foams could have a high insulat
ing effect simi lar to that of VIP and wou ld be
less vulnerable to mechan ical damage. These
foams exploit the effect that if the size of the
cell is small enough, each cell contains just one
single gas molecule, which would be more or
less "frozen" (fi g . A 5.6) . However, such foams
cannot yet be produced on an industrial scale.
But should this succeed , their techn ical proper
ties would be equal to those of conventional
foams, al beit with a much reduced thermal
conductivity. The marketing success or other
wise of this invention has sti l l to be tested .

A 5.6

melamine were carried out in the USA. These

microcapsules containing a phase change
material are used, for instance, in special cloth
ing. For the building industry in particular, sev
eral German companies and institutes have
developed formaldehyde-free systems based
on methyl acrylate within the scope of a joint
project. [ 1 3] Using micro-encapsulated paraf
fins (fi gs A 5. 1 1 and A 5 . 1 2) , it has been possi
ble to incorporate phase change materials into
building materials like plaster, plasterboard
and particleboards (fig . A 5.8). PCMs are very
good at preventing overheating in summer.
I n itial applications show that this passive cool
ing functions marvel lously. Properly integrated
into the energy design criteria, their use results
in lower capital outlay (thanks to smaller refrig
eration plant) and lower operating costs
(thanks to lower refrigeration output). On the
other side of the equation, such materials are
more expensive. In the near future we will see
just how far the economic appeal of PCMs can
guarantee their market success; such materials
are sti l l at the market development stage. What
is certain, however, is that cooling systems with
PCMs will make a significant contribution to the
energy efficiency of buildings within the scope
of sustainable development.
There are other fields of innovation that could
become interesting in the coming years:

energy management - saving on heating and

cooling energy
"easy-to-clean" - cleaning of surfaces
"easy-to-hand le" - l i ghtweight, foolproof pro
ducts, especially for renovation and moderni
interior climate and wel l ness - low-emissions
products, the feel of surfaces

Although the solutions will be based on tech

nology, soft factors, too, wi l l have to be consid
ered for their application.
Establishment of innovations in the future

The examples described above demonstrate

the technologically motivated development of
new materials: technically definable properties
such as heat conduction or heat capacity were
able to be improved . The materials described
are functional , they carry out their work in the
building invisibly. Their aesthetic or haptic
qual ities are not the result of a design process,
but rather a product of their properties.
In the marketing of these materials it is there
fore the techn ical quality that is critical - and
hence the leeway for further marketing is limit
ed. But by considering soft factors this leeway
could be expanded; at the same time, it should
be possible to achieve a more targeted devel
opment of innovative materials.
In product development it is only in the final
phases that we find out whether an invention
wi l l really become an i nnovation. The influence
of pure technology is large at the start and

The development of innovative materials














decreases towards the end. I nverse to this is

the opportunity for the architect - as the repre
sentative of the end market - to influence the
development. It would seem obvious that by
involving all the participants in the value-crea
tion chain at an early stage, hitherto unrecog
nised chances can be created (fi g . A 5 . 7 ) :
expensive mistakes c a n be avoided or even
misguided developments prevented right at the
development phase. It is essential to find a rea
sonable balance here between the justified
wish for exclusivity on an artistic level and the
equally justified interests of industry for a sus
tainable economic success, which is based on
the widespread use of a material.
If this is successfu l , the combination of techno
logical skills in the raw materials and building
materials industries with the system, process
and design expertise of the others in the con
struction team can discover whole new
approaches to inventions and i nnovations.

A 5.7




Innovation survey of the Competition Research

Centre, Swiss Federal I nstitute of Technology,
Zurich, 1 999
Schumpeter, Joseph: Theorie der wirtschaftlichen
Entwicklung. Berlin 1 987
For further literature see pp. 272-74
Material ( . . . ): substance, raw material, medium; also:
total of available aids, objects, documents needed
to produce somethin 9 , for work, as equipment or
similar. In business management the initial materials
for production, which include raw materials, aids
and operational resources, reusable residual mate
rials plus semi-finished and finished goods which
are incorporated into the industrial production process.
Source: Brockhaus - Die Enzyklopadie in 24 Ban
den, Leipzig/Mannheim, 1 996--99
McGraw Hill: The Top International Constructors.
August 2004
de Solla Price, Derek John: Little Science - Big
Science. New York 1 963
K6lbel, Matthias: Das Wachstum der Wissenschaft in
Deutschland 1 650-2000. In: Parthey, Heinrich; Spur,
Gunter (ed.): Wissenschaft und Innovation - Wissen
schaftsforschung Jahrbuch 2001 . Berlin 2002

[ 1 0)

[1 1 )

[ 1 3)

A 5.8
Marx, Werner; Gramm, Gerhard: Literaturflut - Infor
mationslawine - Wissensexplosion. Stuttgart 2002
This trend of the "usability" of research results in the
meantime accompanies even fundamental research.
Generally, research applications are no longer
approved if not accompanied by ideas regarding
possible applications.
BINE-Informationsdienst des Fachinformations
zentrums Karlsruhe, themeninfo IVl02, (www.bine.
info) provides a 900d overview of PCMs
See also Detail 06/2002, p. 736
Federal Ministry of Education & research: joint pro
ject together with BASF, maxit, Caparol, Sto and the
Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE)

Dr. Jurgen Fischer, Ludwigshafen, Dr. Ekkehard Jahns,
Ludwigshafen, Dr. Peter Eckerle, Ludwigshafen

A 5.7

a Schematic innovation chain

b Targeted innovation through early integration of
the end market
A 5.8 Layer thicknesses of different materials for the
same heat storage capacity
A 5.9 The surface of a graphite-modified polystyrene
A 5 . 1 0 Open-pore melamine resin foam: the pores that
enable the exchange of gas are clearly visible.
A 5. 1 1 Micro-encapsulated paraffin in crystalline state
A 5 . 1 2 Micro-encapsulated paraffin in molten state


Touching the senses materials and haptics

in the design process
Marc Esslinger

For a number of years, haptics (Greek: hap

to grasp, touc h ) , the
branch of science dealing with the sense of
touch, has been makin g significant inroads
into the research and development projects of
many companies i nvolved i n marketing, archi
tecture and desi g n . The role haptic aspects
play in the design of products and how they
interact with other design criteria such as aes
thetics, material, brand-name relevance and
competitive environment is the theme of this
Basically, design is a generalist approach,
and the decision-making process is subject
to numerous influences, comparable with the
work in an architectural practice. Therefore,
at this point we shall demonstrate the aspects
and experiences of industrial design that are
interesting for the architect's way of thinkin g ,
a n d stimulate a discussion between these
related disciplines.
tikos, from haptesthai

Sensual stimuli an d the specific addressing

of new communication channels

Advertising deliberately plays with our senses.

Traditional advertising was followed by moving
images, and today acoustic signals are used
as wel l . Passing through airports and railway
stations, for instance, repetitive three-part
chords i mprint themselves on our brains and
we start to associate them with certain brands
and services - whether we like it or not. The
consumer cannot simply shut out the sound in

A 6.1

A 6.2

A 6.3
A 6.4

the same way that he or she flicks past the

pages of advertisements in magazines. In this
method , called penetration, the aim is frequent
ly to attract attention for the sake of it rather
than to generate a positive feeling in the
addressee. This is due not just to the short
lived nature of many campaigns, but instead to
the fact that much advertising is built on illu
sions anyway and not on the actual uses or
benefits of a product or a service.
Architects claim to think long-term, after all, the
product to be created should remain relevant
for more than just a fraction of a second. In the
case of designers, the spectrum of products to
be designed ranges from short-lived consumer
goods right up to worthwhile products for med i
cal technology or the san itary industry, which
should remain modern and timeless for half a
lifetime and, above all, should not break.
It is said that many creative persons are really
rather conservative in their private lives. Does
this result in a desire to cling to objects and not
only illusions? I n the reasoned assumption that
this is true for many people, deSigners config
ure products we not only use, but do so with a
recurring delight.
The work of design agencies is becoming ever
more complex, but also more exciting. For a
long time now, design has meant more than
just painting pictures, more than just pure
beautification. "Design is a strategic means in
the i mplementation of corporate objectives" is

"Touch test": to test the haptic experience, the

"frog design" agency works with different material
Pipette developed for the Vista lab company: the
ergonomic shape is based on its application in
the laboratory.
"Prana" shoe with integral massage function
Orangina bottle: form and surface reminiscent
of a citrus fruit
A 6. 1


Touching the senses - materials and haptics in the design process

the smart definition of the professional activities

in the legendary 1 0-second meetings in the l ifts
of skyscrapers in Hamburg, Paris or New York.
This means constraints: costs, target prices,
ever shorter product l ife cycles. But it also
means more freedom because design enjoys
more i mportance within the company. Product
designers must try to absorb marketing con
cepts, but they must also be able to assess
technical feasibility and understand the manu
facturing processes.
It is for these reasons that creative work
involves more and more facets. Besides ergo
nomic, functional and technical factors (the
ABC of the product designer), it is becoming
ever more necessary to convey emotions, and
to recognise the needs of users, or often to
guess these. Factors that lend the design fur
ther roots and make products more l ivable,
more differentiated in the market and even
more accessible for the user are therefore gain
ing in importance. And like advertisin g , this
happens by playing with our senses.
High-tech and high-touch

The start of every design process is marked by

the agency briefing in which the customer
describes the services required - besides
technical aspects like size, functionality and
target cost, also numerous "soft" factors. In
addition, almost every brief includes a so
called CMF (colour, material, finish) study plus
details of the image of a brand. From healthy
fruit drinks to medically efficient toothpaste.
What does the brand stand for? "Trustworthy,
reliable, innovative, special, technical, custom
er-focused, leading" are just some of the terms
often found in agency briefs. Which materials
can be matched to these attributes? Which
materials can be realised in an i ndustrial proc
ess in the sense of production and costs? Med
ical technology products save lives and must
convey this fact (fig . A 6.2) . Mobile phones, on
the other hand, have become fashion accesso
ries, not least because of their short l ife cycles.
It is therefore not unreasonable to assume that
the choice of materials for these products will
be very d ifferent. But subtleties such as surface
characteristics and the exact coordination with
the aesthetics in detail are also important.
Materials like glass suggest a certain value
over plastics - visually, but in particular in their
everyday handling. The material can g ive a
brand a good, d ifferent feel i n g .
In t h e early creative phase, many different
materials are tried out - touched, bent and
glued - in order to find inspiration for new ideas
(fig. A 6. 1 ) . Of course, a silk DVD player is pure
fantasy; however, an unencumbered approach
can help to adapt elements of various materials
styl istically into the design language or into
individual parts. Even in the development of
software, analogies to the physical world are
used to convey emotions and lend virtual
products a visual-haptic experience.
I n order to design the successful products of
tomorrow, the designer needs not only a d is-

tinctive "gut feeling", but also a wider view.

Pens and pencils, CAD software and comput
ers are only tools; creativity comes from inside
our heads. And that is where our eyes are,
which must always remain open. When consid
ering materials, the maxim is: What are the
trends in manufacture? What is new in related
disciplines like fashion, architecture or trends
research? Which materials are currently under
going development and which are sti l l niche
p layers? A space shuttle can provide just as
much inspiration as a fashion show in Milan.
For example, the luxury suitcase "Henk"
designed by the "frog design" agency is made
from carbon fibre, a material borrowed from the
cockpits of Formula One racing cars (fig. A 6.7) .
The designer should focus on what these
trends and developments mean for his or her
projects, e . g . for a mobile phone manufacturer,
a watchmaker or a customer from the lifestyle
sector who is looking for completely new prod
uct concepts and whose brand-name claims
are to be expressed three-dimensionally in the
future. The expressive manifesto i n the form of
the right choice of material for a l ifestyle prod
uct becomes more important as the price of the
product climbs and so is aimed at a d ifferent
market segment. Mass-produced products are
primarily d istinguished through colour, but here
too, there are dozens of nuances. Those work
ing in niche or "high-end" markets use carefully
chosen materials and their surface characteris
tics to express their exclusivity. Sales of prod
ucts made from materials with a high-quality
appearance basically offer the chance of gen
erating greater profit margins; at the same time,
the target groups addressed have greater
expectations regard ing quality, individuality
and product benefits.

A 6.3

The differentiation trend

Globalised markets and hence an (over-) Iarge

range of similar and interchangeable products
lead to every d ifferentiation option being
exploited. Driven by this fact, but also by a
media world anxious to enlighten us, consum
ers - perhaps more properly called "users" have in recent years become more knowledge
able and more self-confident when it comes to
personal selection and appraisement of pur
chasing decisions. Advertising campaigns that
tell us saving money is a worthwhile pursuit
may represent a trend in the lower price seg
ment in times of recession. However, the actual
driving force in the tough battle for the hearts
and money of the customers is the wish for
these to buy products that correspond as pre
cisely as possible with their desires. The much
d iscussed "mass customisation" is stil l in its
infancy, but does at least awaken the idea that
customers can take part in the design process,
e . g . when buying a car with a selection of com
ponents. Modular product components for cer
tain target groups, e . g . individually adjustable
software user interfaces for mobile phones,
prove, however, that this process is not taking

A 6.4


Touching the senses - materials and haptics in the design process

A 6.5

A 6.6

place just to generate ind ividual artificial fea

tures, but that the market demands this.
The work of marketin g departments is therefore
dominated by workshops in which the house
brand is presented as an actor, as an automo
tive brand, as a colour or as a material. Are
Marlboro cigarettes really like the leather of a
cowboy saddle? Associations are establ ished,
help to l ift things out of a vacuum, at least in
metaphors. Designers draw their conclusions
and then create the haptic experience. One
example of a successful and at the same time
very obvious realisation is the holistic brand
name and product image of the Orangina drink
(fi g . A 6.4) . The shape of the bottle and the its
surface are based on the citrus fruit itself - the
drinking experience begins on the supermarket
Automotive sector as vanguard

A 6.7
A 6.5

Apple mouse: high-quality plastic as interface

between computer and user
A 6.6 & A 6.8 Design study: a notebook designed to
resemble a school exercise book to create an
interactive learning experience for children.
A 6.7 "Henk" trolley case: the carbon fibre material is
extremely l ightweight but also extremely robust.
A 6.9 Violin: understandably, the feel of a musical
instrument plays a special role.
A 6 . 1 0 Facade of ETFE film cushions, Allianz Arena,
Munich, Germany, 2005, Herzog & de Meuron

A 6.8


The Greek philosopher Aristotle once

described the sense of touch as an intrinsic
element of human, cognitive ability. The disci
p l i ne of product design is admittedly compara
tively you n g , but haptics has always played a
major role in form-finding - in the theoretical
and practical senses to an equal extent. It is
therefore rather surprising that this theme has
only in recent years become fashionable in the
sense of an ail-embracing customer experi
ence. Like so often in the past, the automotive
sector is now also playing a leading role in the
haptics arena. The major car manufacturers
have been operating their own haptics labora
tories for a number of years, employing some
of their best R&D engineers and searching for
the next step towards the perfect and compre
hensive customer experience. Volunteers are
exposed to various stim u l i , touching, for exam
ple, various dashboards while wearing goggles
to cut out the visual experience completely. But
seat coverings and steering wheels - in short
all the articles to be found in the passenger
compartment and with which the driver comes
into contact - are also given this treatment. The
results are recorded and evaluated by engi
neers, psychologists and sociologists.
Besides comfort, driving enjoyment and relia
bility, the new magic phrase is "perceived qual-

ity". Today's car interior passes through the

entire scientific procedure of assessing various
surface materials and operating controls. Stud
ies by Mercedes show that quality and the
appearance of materials is primarily experi
enced and evaluated by the sense of touch.
Admittedly, the market leaders are not placing
all their cards on the table. The competition is
too fierce and the investment i n research too
great to reveal all the competitive edges and
technological advances.

In the Touchlab at the world-famous Massachu

setts Institute of Technology (MIT) , the subject
is approached more theoretically. The official
name of this research facil ity is the "Laboratory
for Human and Machi ne Haptics", and it was
founded in 1 990 by Or Mandayam A. Srinivas
an. Here, the researchers get to grips with the
principles of how people and machines inter
act. The Touchlab investigates the human
sense of touch and how it can be adapted for
machines, new technologies or software, e . g .
C A D tools for architects a n d designers. From
the number of aspects to be investigated, the
layman can only surmise the complexity of the
research activities. Researchers from biome
chanics, neuropsychology, motor skills and
other scientific d isciplines work hand in hand.
What drives the researchers? The d i g ital , virtu
al, automated world places completely new
demands on users through the growing com
plexity of technical progress. The goal is to
master this oversized funnel of stimuli and data
- comparable with the challenge faced by pre
historic man, who had to understand nature
and learn how to master it. The findings of the
Touchlab find their way into numerous new
developments - in medical technology and
robotics, video games and CAD software - and
hence also into the design process and the
work of industrial designers.
The demands of users

In comparison with the development teams of

the automotive industry or medical technology,
designers know l ittle about the theme of hap
tics - just enough for the successful outcome
of a project from the client's point of view. But

Touching the senses - materials and haptics in the design process

A 6.9

placing the findings of science regard ing the

sense of touch in the context of product bene
fits, brand understand i n g and user requests is
the prime task of the designer.
In order to address the temptation to buy,
besides the aesthetics - when, for example, we
look at, touch and, of course, try out cameras,
sports footwear, suitcases or MP3 players in
the shops - it is the aspect of durability that
plays a great role. Fli ppantly, we could say that
our fingertips influence shopping trends. After
the purchase, the relationship with the custom
er enters a crucial phase: from the user's point
of view, the actual product experience begins
now. There are enough examples: constant use
of a mobile telephone, the drive to the office
with the steering wheel in our hands, or the
computer mouse that keeps us in front of the
computer for hours on end, linking us to the
Internet and the software. The idea is always to
keep the product and brand-name promises
and to build up loyalty. Particularly in the case
of everyday objects that we use frequently,
carry around with us, become almost part of
us, the recurring haptic experience is a key ele
ment. Paints, switches, housings - these are all
part of the haptic experience. But it is more
than just touching these, it is also the emotional
and intuitive feel of the interaction with the
product. How does the user receive feedback
when he or she enters a command into a
mobile phone? When the spectacles case has
been closed? The handling of products and

their participation in our everyday l ives turn

functions into emotions and habits; products
become our permanent companions.
These examples demonstrate that the theme of
"haptics" plays a key role, both i n the develop
ment and design of a product and in its use by
the customer. The successful interaction of
haptics, aesthetics, materials, colourin g , prod
uct q uality, also smell and sound , is elementary
- just l i ke a good orchestra or a good meal and
their individual constituents.
Of apples and oranges and butterflies

Successful examples of an extremely trium

phant combination of creativity, product claims
and haptic experience are the products from
Porsche and Apple. Supposedly, it is often the
details that allow the user to recognise the spe
cial dedication of the manufacturer. The mouse
products from Apple are more expensive and
of better qual ity than the products of most
rivals. The creators of the iMac and iPod saw
the mouse as the prime interface between user,
software and hardware, in contact with the
hand for several hours each day (fig . A 6.5) .
Other manufacturers saw the computer mouse
primarily as a piece of plastic and tried to save
a few more cents in the production. Cars pre
sent a similar picture: the Porsche designers
and engineers regard every detail as an impor
tant component in an overall statement of
worldwide leadership in the development of
sports cars. The fact that Apple and Porsche

are also very successful economically confirms

the notion that it is worthwhile focusing on the
desires of people, and that customers are also
prepared to pay more when the extra benefits
are relevant for them.
Haptics is an important component in the design
process, but not everything . This fact repre
sents a compromise in the life of the designer,
who leads a Jekyll-and-Hyde existence trying
to balance art and commerce. The work of the
architect is very simi lar in this respect: the draft
design often simple and lucid, but the details
almost always difficult, and the realisation con
strained by pressure on costs, time and
The interaction of the senses is vital in our daily
working and private lives. Touching a ripe
orange, subsequently peeling it, smelling and
finally eating this tropical fruit represent a holis
tic experience. Eating is not only tasting, music
is not only hearing, a sunset experienced amid
nature is not only watching. I ndeed, there are
many things we can learn from nature. Some
species of butterfly can smell and taste with
their legs. In a figurative sense, we can do
that too.

A 6. 1 0


Part B Properties of building




Ceramic materials

Building materials with mineral binders

Bituminous materials

Wood and wood-based products



Synthetic materials


Life cycle assessments

Fig. Central
Galleria Vittorio
Giuseppe Megnoni


1 867,



1 .1

Besides loam and wood, stone in its natural

form was one of the first materials people used
for building. In the early days of civilisation,
everyday objects such as weapons, simple
tools and jewellery were made from stone .
Besides the pyramids of Egypt, t h e first struc
tures built with natural stone worked into a
more or less regular shape were the so-called
megalithic monuments (from Greek: megas
great + lithos stone ) , and the stone circles of
Stonehenge in southern Eng land are probably
the best-known examples (fig . B 1 . 1 ) . But even
today we are still unsure as to how these huge
blocks - up to 4 m high and weighing up to 50
tonnes - were transported from a quarry more
than 200 km away and erected. It was in about
2700 BC that the oldest step pyramid made
from coarsely dressed limestone blocks was
built in Saqqara, Egypt. The man in charge of
its construction, the vizier I mhotep, is regarded
as the world's first architect. Various c u ltures
and epochs have supplied us with their own
specific forms of construction . The Greeks
assembled stones without mortar joints to form
architectural elements such as p l i nths, col
umns, architraves and friezes. The Romans
continued the development of vaultin g . By the
1 st century AD it was therefore possible to
erect q u ite sophisticated infrastructure ele
ments such as the 50 m high Pont du Gard
aqueduct (fig . B 1 .2 ) . And in the Gothic era the
stonemason 's art reached its zenith. The forces
were concentrated in the net-like, delicate ribs
of the vau lting and transferred to great p i l lars.
The walls in between lost their load bearing
function and were transformed into translucent,
lightweight surfaces (fig . B 1 .5 ) . I n the 1 920s
the use of very thin stone slabs as cladding
became a feature of modern architecture. Adolf
Loos ("Marble is the cheapest wallpaper")
showed us the exclusively decorative use of
c ladding made from Cipollino marble on the
facade of his "Loos House" (fig . B 1 .6 ) .



1 .3
1 .4

Salisbury,France, century
Dry stone walling, stone house near Gordes,
lgrimagePianoChurch, Foggia, Apulia,
n of mass - Gothic vaulting, Bath
"Loos uHouse",
Vienna,madeAustrifroma, Dionysos
f Loose,
Church, Meggen, Switzerland,



1 .5

UK, 1 499

1 .6
1 .7


1 91 0 ,

1 966,

1 .2

mass outside the layer of thermal insulation is

now generally unnecessary and leads merely
to more work on site and more fixings. The
stone industry has responded to this: granite
slabs 15 mm thick and sandwich panels with a
6 mm thick stone facing are now available on
the market (see "The building envelope", p. 1 10) .
In Berlin whole street fronts were clad with thin
stone facings from all over the world with every
conceivable surface treatment. I n recent years
stone has enjoyed an unexpected renaissance.
Without doubt also due to the fact that surfaces
and sensual qualities have become more im
portant again.
The winery of Herzog & de Meuron in Califor
nia, USA, as wel l as the thermal baths in Vals,
Switzerland , by Peter Zumthor are wel l-known
examples of how to use the specific surface
qual ities of natural stone. Franz Fueg had
already used the light-permeable properties of
marble on his St Pi us Church in Meggen, Swit
zerland, in 1 966. The sunlight transforms the
smooth marble panels into illuminated, veil-like
surfaces (fig . B 1 .7 ) . In his desig n for the Padre
Pio Pilgrimage Church in Foggia, Italy, Renzo
Piano devised a remarkable solution (fig. B 1 .4).
Blocks of the local limestone were assembled
to form prestressed arches spanning more than

Contemporary applications

I n our modern thermally insulated facades,

stone has lost its structural function. The
increased requirements placed on thermal
i nsulation and the performance of the building
envelope in Central Europe means that all

1 .3


50 m. To achieve the necessary tolerance of

0.5 mm for each element, the experience of
many generations of marble stonemasons from
Carrara went into the working of the stone.


There is an impressive d iversity of natural stone.

In Central Europe more than 500 varieties,
worldwide about 5000, are offered by the trade.
And as every type of stone exhibits specific
properties and features, the potential applica
tions are correspondingly diverse (fi g . B 1 . 1 0) .
Petrography is the study of rocks. The usability
of a stone is determined by its petrographical,
i.e. mineralogical and chemical, features, plus
a number of technical parameters.

behaviour, water absorption and resistance to

Good thermal conductivity is important when
stone is used as a floor covering. Stone floors
are often perceived as cold because they con
duct heat away from the body. However, their
heat storage capacity can be a great advan
tage, also in conjunction with underfloor heating ,
Risks specific to the material

The following properties should be considered

at an early stage of the planni n g :

. Petrographical properties:
structure, chemistry, mineral content (colour,
crystall ine structure and hardness)
Technical parameters (fig . B 1 . 1 2) :
density (true density, bulk density and porosi
ty), strength (compressive, flexural and abra
sion resistance), thermal conductivity, thermal
expansion, heat resistance, freeze-thaw

The thermal expansion l ies between 0.3 and
1 .25 mm/m (for a temperature d ifference of
1 00 K) depend ing on the type of stone. Suita
ble joints and fixings are essential for the
cladding to a facade. Water trapped in the
pores and capillaries of the stone can cause
damage when it freezes because its volume
increases by about 9% as it turns to ice .
Although the majority of i gneous rocks are
classed as frost-resistant, numerous aspects
must be sti l l taken into account if problems
are to be avoided.

B 1.5

B 1.6

Chemical stability:
Acids and airborne pollutants (e.g. S0 and
CO ) can cause considerable damage to
limestone and sandstone.

Effect and design

Stone stands for tradition. It is the embodiment

of durab i l ity, authority and quality. Even when
the modern stone facades of Central Europe
are usual ly no more than a thin cladd ing, we
sti l l associate stone with stability and strength ,
e . g . for banks. Every type of stone has its own
character derived from its grain and porosity as
well as its colour. The surface treatment, e . g .
bush-hammerin g , polishing, sandblasting, can
have a fu ndamental effect on the appearance
of a stone surface (fig . B 1 . 1 3) . Although these
days we can employ stone from the four cor
ners of the Earth, stone was originally a region
al material which created a clear reference to
the locality (fi g . B 1 .3 ) . The streetscapes of, for
example, London or Paris were always charac
terised by a uniform, local stone.

B 1.7



I gneous


Plutonic 11 Hypabyssal J 1 Extrusive 1






1 (ignOrthorock
eoursroCkS)11L-( SedimPara
ryroc=kS) 1













u c
en u


Rock formation

According to our present state of knowledge,

the planet Earth was formed about 4.5 b i l lion
years ago by the agglomeration of interstellar
material. After the transition from the gaseous
to the molten state, the first coherent crust, the
Earth's surface, formed at a temperature of
about 1 00Q-1 500C. Rocks are formed by the
crystallisation of liquid magma. They consist of
various minerals, primarily s i l i cates, held
together by aggregation or a binder (e . g . clay) .
Their genesis is a decisive feature enabling us
to divide rocks into three main divisions: i gne
ous, sedimentary and metamorphic.

Rock divisions

We must d istinguish between scientific and

commercial nomenclature when classifying
types of rock. Only when we know the petro
graphic designation of the rock group and rock
type is it possible to obtain a g uaranteed
assessment of the properties and the potential
applications (fig . B 1 .8) . Trade names are often
arbitrary, and inaccurate designations such as

"Belgian granite" (actually l imestone) can re

sult in considerable damage if the real nature
of the rock is not known.
Igneous rocks

These types of rock are formed d i rectly from

liquid magma and are d ivided i nto three sub
d ivisions according to their place of origin:
Plutonic rocks
Named after the god of the underworld, these
rocks are formed by the full crystallisation of
"mobilised magma" in the Earth's crust. The
usually - uniform, non-d irectional and dense
structure is due to the gradual coo l i n g . The
varying mineral composition gives rise to rock
types l i ke granite, diorite and gabbro. Almost
all plutonic rocks are frost-resistant and are
popular in building owing to their high com
pressive strength and hardwearing q ual ities.
Some i gneous rocks, e . g . granite, can exhibit
above-average natural rad ioactivity in some
Hypabyssal rocks
These types of rock are formed when small
amounts of magma solid ify within the Earth's
crust in volcanic vents or fissures. Their struc
ture is similar to the plutonic rocks but the
faster cooling process results in non-uniform
crystall isation with phenocrysts of other mate
rial. This subdivision includes pegmatites,
aplites and lamprophyres.

1 .8

Sedimentary rocks

Sediments are mainly formed by the weather

ing, erosion and deposition of older rocks
(igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic) which
are then transported by water or glacial move
ments and deposited again in the form of
debris, gravel or sand. These rocks frequently
contain animal or plant fossils. The pressure of
the overlying strata compresses the individual
particles of the sediments to form a solid mass,
cemented together by water containing binders
(e. g . quartz, calcite, clay) circulating in the
remaining voids. This process of the solid ifica
tion of sediments is known as diagenesis. Clas
tic sediments consist of the mechanically disin
tegrated parts of the orig inal rock. Depending
on the grain size, we distinguish between con
g lomerates ( 2 mm) , sandstones (0.02-2 mm)
and siltstones (5,; 0.02 mm) . Chemical sedi
ments are "precipitation" from solutions as a
result of chemical reactions or biological proc
esses which subsequently solidify under pres
sure. These include limestone , shelly limestone
and travertine. The properties of sedimentary
rocks that are interesting for building purposes
vary considerably and essentially depend on
the conditions during their formation (tempera
ture, pressure) and the respective binder.
Chemical sediments (e.g. onyx, petrographic
name: calc-sinter) are particularly suitable for
internal finishings owing to their d iverse tex
Metamorphic rocks

Extrusive rocks
I n contrast to plutonic rocks, rocks of this
type, e.g. d iabase, basalt or rhyolite, form at
the transition between the upper mantle
(crust) and the surface of the Earth. The rela
tively fast cooling process leaves these rocks
with a fine crystalline structure. Partial melting
of neighbouring rocks can lead to hig hly
d iverse appearances.


1 .9

Metamorphic rocks are formed from existing

rocks and are called orthorocks when formed
from igneous rocks or pararocks when the orig
inal material is a sedimentary rock. High pres
sures, high temperatures or chemical influenc
es transform the original rock or even form
completely new types. They are usually easily
recognised by their dense structure free from
virtually all voids, their distinct texture or the
clear bedding marks. Their chemical compos i-


tion, appearance and uses in building vary

considerably. I mportant metamorphic rock
types are slate, marble and gneiss.

Types of stone

A selection of the most common types o f stone

used in building is g iven below.

Granite is probably the best known of the plutonic rocks (fi g . B 1 . 1 1 a). Its constituents are
feldspar (which determines the colour) , quartz
(responsible for the high mineral hardness) and
mica. Granite is weather-resistant, is regarded
as the most resistant of rocks, can be used
almost without restriction in building work, and
is unaffected by airborne pollution. N umerous
colours are available: red, pink, yellow, white,
grey, blue-green.

Basalt is a dark, usually dark grey to black,

extrusive rock with a dense, non-directional
structure consisting mainly of feldspar and
augite (fig . B 1 . 1 1 b ) . It exhibits a very high
compressive strength, is extremely difficult to
work, is weather-resistant, and is ideal for
external applications. However, it can become
very slippery when smooth. Weathered and
aged basalt is also known as diabase. It is
formed by the chemical disintegration of the
mineral constituents (e . g . chlorite, serpentine) .

Sandstone belongs to the group of clastic sedimentary rocks and consists primarily of quartz
grains in the size 0.02-2 mm cemented together by a binder. Sandstones are found in many
colours: red, yellow, brown, green (fi g . B
1 . 1 1 c) . The type of binder (q uartz, calcite, clay)
determines primarily the strength, water
absorption and frost resistance. Sandstone is
regarded as easy to work and is found on
many older buildings. However, owing to its low
abrasion resistance it is not suitable for heavily
trafficked floors.


This is a chemical sedimentary rock that was

formed during various geological periods, originally in water - proved by the fossils found in
limestone. It consists mainly of calcium carbonate and occurs in various colours, usually yellowish, grey-brown, red or white (fi g . B 1 . 1 1 d) .
Limestone can be used almost universally.
Only its use in areas that req u i re frequent
cleaning (e. g . entrances, public buildings) or
wet areas is not recommended owing to its low
resistance to the chemicals used in cleaning
agents. Its abrasion resistance d iffers considerably depending on the particular rock deposit.




> '"
'" <fJ

Igneous rocks

'" Cl

LL .S2

0 <fJ
0 Cl




Rhyolite (porphyry)
Calcereous sandstone
Volcanic tufts
Shelly limestone
Solnhofen limestone
Tuftaceous limestone
Clayey shale
BB Systemati
Art gal, Henni
lery, Wurth,
Schwabisch Hall, Germany,
B Appl
iceationloyns) for various types of stone in building
of commonntypes
of tstone
B Exampl
ab Grei
cd Seeberger
Moselte lTogo
e slatemarble
fe Whi

Sedimentary rocks


Marble, a pararock, is formed by the metamorphosis of calcareous sed imentary rocks. Pure
marble is white, crystalline and free from fossils. The crystal surfaces shine in bright l i g ht
(fig . B 1 . 1 1 e) . This stone is ideal for scul pted
work with fine contours, but is also used in
b u i l d i ng as a floor finish or wall/facade cladd i ngo

Clayey shale

The term shale designates the spl itting or

cleaving properties of rocks, with the m ineral
i nclusions (clay, chlorite, mica) indicating the
degree of metamorphosis. Clayey shale exh i bits a sheet-like, parallel structure. It is a very
fine-grained, dense stone and usually dark
grey to black in colour (fi g . B 1 . 1 1 f) . Its good
cleaving ability enables the production of thin
slabs just 5-7 mm thick. Owing to the shaley
structure, its strength depends on d i rection.
Shales in the form of slates have been used for
centuries as roof coverings, cladding and floor

Metamorphic rocks

1 .1 0

1 .8

Building with stone

Stone is usually obtained from open q uarries,

with only some types of marble, slate and limestone being obtained from underground mines.
When exploring new sources, the extent of the
deposit and the properties of the stone are estimated by way of ultrasound measurements, or
samples are obtained from deep boreholes.

1 .9


1 .1 0
1 .1 1

1 .1 1



Hydraulic wedges are driven between the

blocks along natural cleavage p lanes in order
to separate the blocks. Diamond-beaded steel
wires and cross-cutters (sort of oversized
chainsaws!) have also become common in re
cent years. The aim of q uarrying is to obtain
approximately right-angled blocks of a suitable
size and in doing so to generate as l ittle
"waste" as possible. Quarrying i nvolves de
struction of the landscape, and creates large
quantities of d ust and debris. New deposits
may therefore only be q uarried when certain of
ficial stipulations are met. Those stipulations i n
clude restoration of the landscape once the
workable deposits have been exhausted.
Industrial processing

Cleaving of the stone is usually carried out

d i rectly in the quarry especially in the case of
paving stones and stone for ashlar wal l i n g .
Otherwise, the stone is transported t o factories
for further processing - it is then that we speak
of dressed stone. The use of reg ional deposits
and hence short d istances between quarry and
works considerably improves the life cycle
assessment for natural stone.
Various methods are used to process the quar
ried blocks:

example, floor coverings in public buildings

must comply with non-slip grade R 9.
Henning Larsen developed and used an unusu
al technique on the facade cladding to the art
gal lery in Wurth, Germany. The Crailsheimer
shelly l imestone he used was cut perpendicular
to the cleaving p lane (fig . B 1 .9).

Steel-shot abrasion or diamond saws:

for 20-80 mm thick slabs (the time taken to
saw through a 1 .20 m high block of granite is
about 1 -2 days)
Taglia Blocci saws:
for stone tiles or long strips with a thickness of
about 1 5 mm
Gangsaws with circular blades or steel wires:
for the production of coarse slabs > 80 mm
thick; steel wires can also create three-dimen
sional workpieces.

Surface finishes

We distinguish between stonemason tech

niques and industrial processi n g , although new
compressed-air tools are enabling "manual"
methods to gain popularity again (fig . B 1 . 1 3) .
The type of surface finish satisfies both aesthet
ic criteria and functional requirements. For

(guide only)
B 1 . 1 3 Various manual and machine-applied surface

Limestone, coarse-pointed:
The surface is broken away using a hammer
and a pointed chisel (pyramidal form), with
the depth and angle of cut determining the
grade of finish (coarse or fine). The entire sur
face is worked in this way.


b Limestone, pointed and ground:

Stone in the form of aggregates for concrete

and mortar or for producing mineral binders
accounts for the largest share of natural stone
in build i n g . I n order to establish the suitability of
a type of stone for building work, the stone
i ndustry classifies stones as hard ( i g neous and
some metamorphic rocks) or soft (sedimentary
rocks ) . However, owin g to the availabil ity of rel
atively "soft" i gneous rocks and very hard sedi
mentary rocks, the specific physical properties
(compressive strength, frost resistance, abra
sion resistance) should always be checked for
the application when choosing a type of stone
(fig . B 1 . 1 2) . Generally, stone is suitable for the
following applications in b u i l d i n g :

B 1 . 1 2 Physical properties of various types of stone

Grinding the whole surface reduces the

powerful texture of the first treatment.
c Limestone, comb-chiselled:
Varying blows and d ifferent chisel widths can
be used to achieve d ifferent effects.
d Limestone, bush-hammered:
Fine to coarse, even surfaces can be pro
duced with a bush hammer. The spacing of
the pyramid-shaped teeth varies between
4 and


mm depending on the type of


Limestone, bush-hammered, brushed

and ground:
The superimposition of the three operations
gives a finer, smoother finish to the initially
coarse texture.
Limestone, diamond-sawn:
Diamond-tipped saw-blades create a relative
ly fine cut surface and leave behind traces of
the sawing process.

gabion walls
facade cladding
floor finishes
internal linings
roof coverings

g Granite, bush-hammered:
Bush-hammered granite finish achieved with
a machine.

Granite, fine-pitched:
The rough-split surface is worked with a


mm wide chisel. This vigorous finish is

achieved by changing the d irection and

depth of the chiselling.


Granite, flamed:
Extremely high temperatures from a torch

Natural stone can be fully reused within the total

product l ifecycle of quarrying, processing and
disposal. Even so-cal led waste products that
are generated during processing can still be
used as aggregates. The disposal of stone in
landfil l sites for building debris does not cause
any problems, and it is generally possi ble to
reuse slabs and panels . The Forum Romanum
is an excellent example of this - during the
Renaissance it was the largest source of used
natural stone!

destroy the surface structure of a crystalline

stone. Only rock types containing quartz are
suitable for this type of surface treatment, and
the slab must also be sufficiently thick.
Granite, sandblasted:
Sandblasting is suitable for creating coarse
surface finishes, which vary depending on
the blasting media used and its exit velocity.

Granite, ground:
The colour and texture of a stone becomes
clearly visible on finely ground surfaces.
Any grit size can be chosen between
(coarse) and

500 (fine).

Polishing can be regarded as very fine grind

ing in which a polishing medium is used to
give the surface such a high sheen that it
reflects the light.




Granite, polished:





[cm'/50 cm"]

[% by mass]

of thermal
[mm / mK]

Vapour diff.
index '

[W/ mK]

index 2
[kJ / m'K]

1 30 -270

2.8 ( 1 .6-3.4)



1 0 000


1 60 -240



1 0 000




1 70 - 300



1 0 000





1 70 - 300



1 0 000



Rhyolite (porphyry)


1 80 - 300



1 0 000





1 80 - 300



1 0 000




2900- 3000


3.5 ( 1 .2-2.0)


1 0 000


0 . 1 -0.3



1 80 -250



1 0 000


0 . 1 -0.4



conductivity 1

[kg/ m']

[N/ mm"]






Type of rock


Igneous rocks


0 . 1 -0.9

Sedimentary rocks
0.5- 1 . 0



50- 1 60






20- 1 60

2.3 ( 1 .2- 3.4)



1 4-80 '

0.8-1 0



30 - 1 50

2.3 ( 1 .2-3.4)

1 760-2380




0.2-1 0

Quartz sandstone



2.3 (2 1 )

2290 -2380







1 50 - 300






Volcanic tuffs

1 800-2000


2.3 (0.4-1 .7)


1 5/20

1 0-35




2.3 (2.0-3.4)



1 5-40

0 . 1 -3

Shelly limestone


80- 1 80

2.3 (2.0-3.4)



1 5-40


Solnhofen platy limestone


1 80 -260






6-- 1 5







1 5-40

0 . 1 -3


2400 -2500



0 . 0068




Tuffaceous limestone

1 700 -2200


0.85-1 . 7






Metamorphic rocks


2600- 3000

1 00 -200

3.5 ( 1 .6-2. 1 )



1 40 -250

3.5 (3.4)


2600- 3000

1 00-200

3.5 ( 1 .6-2.6)


0 .005-0.008

1 0 000

4-1 0

0 . 005-0.01

1 0 000

8-1 8

0.3-2. 0

0 .005-0.008

1 0 000

4-1 0




2600- 3000

1 00-200

3.5 ( 1 .6-2. 1 )

0 . 005-0.008

1 0 000





1 50-300



1 0 000





1 40-200



800/1 000

1 5-25

0.2-0. 4

Clayey shale



2.2 ( 1 .2-2. 1 )



800/1 000






3.5 (2.0-2.6)



1 0 000

1 5-40

0. 1 -3

Values according to general information on thermal conductivity in EN 12524 and D I N V 4 1 084; values in brackets taken from trade publications.

2 The specific heat capacity of stone is specified as 1 kJ/kgK in EN 12524; in the absence of values, the heat storage index corresponds to the density.

, Values according to EN 12524 and D I N V 4 1 08-4.

, Composite rock - the abrasion resistance therefore fluctuates considerably.
B 1 . 12

B 1 .1 3



B 2.1

B 2.1

Studio 400 Rubio Avenue, Tucsonl Arizona (USA)

B 2.2

Trian9ular network for loam designations

B 2.3

Mean drying shrinkage of loams for building

B 2.4
B 2.5

Shrinkage cracks due to drying out

Exhibit in the Art Gallery in Bregenz, Austria, 2001 ,

B 2.6

Loam-rendered house, Barna, India

1 998, Rick Joy

Olafur Eliasson
B 2.7

Loam wall around the rock garden of the Ryoanji

Temple, Kyoto, Japan, late 15th century


The early civilisations developed in the large

river valleys of our planet, where clay and loam
were readily available as bui lding materials.
Those early cultures that have been researched
most thoroughly are those centred around the
N i le in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Some 5000
years ago, these were the locations of the first
settlements b u i lt from loam.
Even the G reat Wall of China, the largest man
made object on this planet, is to a large extent
made from tamped loam. Only later was it
g iven a facing of bricks and stone, and thus
turned i nto a "masonry wal l " .
I n Europe too, bui lding with loam has a long
tradition. The real heyday was during the early
decades of our modern industrial age because
as forests were cleared, suppl ies of timber
decl i ned and became expensive, which
encouraged the spread of building with loam .
In the towns and cities loam was primarily used
for the infill panels of timber-framed buildings,
or as a form of rendering. I n Wei l burg an der
Lahn in central Germany, five-storey houses up
to 20 m tal l were b u i lt from tamped loam, and
those houses are sti l l occupied today. Howev
er, a distinctive architectural style never
emerged for this material. Loam was regarded
as the building material of the poor, was mainly
hidden behi nd rendered facades and gradually
lost much of its significance as the brickmaking
industry became established towards the end
of the 1 9th century.
After the two world wars, when bui lding materi
als, energy and money were hardly plentiful
commodities, people turned to loam once
again. The German loam bui lding code
became D I N 1 8951 in 1 95 1 , but was withdrawn
and not replaced durin g the years of the "Eco
nomic Miracle" . It was not until the oil crisis and
the emerg ing environmental movements of the
1 970s that interest once again turned to loam
as a building material.
Loam building today

Even today, one-third of the world's population

lives in loam houses, and in the countries of the
Third World this figure rises to more than half.
The reasons for using loam vary across the
world. In poorer regions loam represents a
locally available, affordable building material

for which there is hardly any equivalent substi

tute. In Central Europe on the other hand, the
rediscovery of loam as a building material is
due primarily to the desire for a good interior
c l imate, living accommodation free from haz
ardous substances, and architectural aspects.
The transition from the traditional to the con
temporary loam building culture has called for
fundamental innovations in terms of product
development and the integration of this material
into our modern methods of bui lding . Building
with loam is currently one of the growing mar
ket segments in the building industry. This trend
is reflected in the number of projects complet
ed and a gradual increase in the number of
prefabricated loam products, which are prima
rily used for non-load bearing components.
In Germany, the old standards were updated
and supplemented in 1 999, and republished in
the form of a new "Loam Building Code". This
code has now been incorporated into the build
ing codes of the majority of Germany's federal
states, making loam bui lding one of the
acknowledged construction methods of the
modern age.


Mass, good mouldabil ity, robustness and

excellent adhesive and bonding forces count
as the main properties of loam. Diverse addi
tions (e. g . whey, soda) plus organic or mineral
aggregates are suitable for optimising the
building material q ualities according to the type
of application. Loam is odourless, non-toxic
and pleasant to work with.
Like virtual ly no other building material, loam
fulfils the criteria of sustainable and resources
sparing construction. It is available in almost all
regions of the world. Energy for transport can
be saved by using excavated material.
The building of a solid tamped loam wall
req u i res only a fraction of the primary energy of
a comparable wall made from concrete or clay
bricks (see "Life cycle assessments", page 1 00).
Loam can be reused an i nfinite number of
times and returned to the natural product l ifecy
cle without causing any problems. Its good





Designation according
to cohesion

Clay, sandy

v clayey loam



Clay, sillY


lean loams

1 .0-2 .5 %

medium loams

2.0-3.5 %

fatty loams

3.5-5.5 %


4.5-7.5 %

B 2.2

heat storage capacity can help even out tem

perature fluctuations, The interior c l imate is also
improved by the material's abil ity to absorb
water vapour and release it again as requ i red, a
property known as sorption capacity. The sorp
tion capacity of loam plasters is 1 .5 to 3 times
that of conventional plasters.
The diversity of loam deposits and the associat
ed considerable differences in their composition
call for experience in the assessment of this
material for building applications. Without addi
tives, loam is very sensitive to water. As it
becomes wetter, so it loses its strength, and
therefore surfaces exposed to the weather must
be protected against erosion (fi g . B 2.4) . Shrink
age cracks can sometimes appear as the mate
rial dries out, which in the wet loam method can
amount to 3-1 2%, but in the tamped loam meth
od less than 0.5%. Compared to other building
materials, loam has a low strength (similar to
that of lean concrete), but this is ful ly adequate
for the majority of building tasks.

B 2.3

Loam for building

Loam essentially consists of clay, sand and silt

(ultra-fine sand). However, it can also include
larger grains (e. g . g ravel ) and organic constitu
ents. Depending on the main component, we
speak of clayey, silty, or sandy loam (fi g . B 2 . 2 ) .
The clay acts a s a binder which bonds together
the other sand, silt and gravel "fi l lers".

B 2 .4


Clay is a product of the weatherin g (degrada

tion) of rock, whose raw material is generally
m inerals such as feldspars. The rock is subject
to mechanical and chemical reactions, which
transform it. The properties (fig . B 2 .3) and des
i gnations of the loam vary depending on the
location of the deposit:

Surface finish

We distinguish between architecture employing

a decorative loam render and non-rendered ,
tamped loam structures (pise - rammed earth) .
In Japan the masters of loam building have
developed their art to such an extent that you
can see your reflection in the walls! Some of
these loam render surfaces are protected by
preservation orders; likewise coloured surfaces,
which enjoy particular esteem as a sign of their
age (fig. B 2.7).
At the same time, contemporary architecture in
Europe and the USA has rediscovered the qual
ity of raw, untreated surfaces (figs B 2 . 1 and
B 2.9) .

Mean drying

Mountainside loam:
In geological terms this type of loam is rela
tively young and is deposited on the rocks
from which it originates. Its granulometric
composition makes it ideal for components
requiring a good compressive strength .
Boulder loam:
Glacial movements deposit this loam. Its
rounded grains and lower clay content g ive it
a reduced tensile and compressive strength .
Marl is a boulder loam containing l ime.
Alluvial loam:
This is boulder loam that has been redeposit
ed by water. Most of the lime has been
removed to leave a material that is readily
usable for building purposes.
Loess loam:
Loess has a very finely-grained m ineral struc
ture and often a low clay content. It is easier
to use than fatty loams. However, its h i g her
sensitivity to water calls for special care dur
ing construction.


If the excavated loam is used d i rectly for build

i n g , it must be obtained from an adequate
depth free from roots and humus. It is also pos
si ble to obtain loam from excavations for the
brickmaking industry.
Owin g to the hig hly d iverse properties and
compositions of loam deposits, the material's
suitability for the respective application must
be checked. Besides laboratory tests, there are
also simple methods ( D I N 4022-1 ) that can
serve to provide an initial indication of the
loam's properties. Such methods are adequate
for low-grade applications, e . g . i nfill panels,
loose fill or mortar. It is not usually necessary to
check material that has been mil led after exca
vation or material that is supplied dry in sacks.
B 2.7



Loam building materials

Not moulded

Timber light
weight loam
Straw light
weight loam
Mineral light
weight loam


Loam fill
loam fill

Loam board

Loam masonry



loam board)

loam masonry
Loam plaster

loam brick

Solid brick

Dry partitioning

Perforated brick

loam plaster mix
Loam mortar for

B 2.8

Systematic classification of loam building materials

B 2.9

Chapel of Reconciliation, Berlin, Germany, 2000,

Reitermann + Sassenroth

B 2 . 1 0 Typical applications for loam building materials

a Loam render
b Tamped loam with mortar strips
c Tamped loam with clay brick strips
d Lightweight straw loam in moist condition
e Loam inner lining i n timber-framed construction:
unburned bricks, cladding of loam building
board, loam plaster
f Prefabricated timber-framed construction with
lightweight loam brick infill
B 2 . 1 1 Physical properties of loam building materials


Depending on the properties and intended

use of the loam , various options are available
to improve the materia l 's properties. These
incl ude soakin g , crushing, mixing, sieving,
souring (storing the moist loam to i ncrease the
bonding force of the clay), suspend ing in a
slurry and making leaner (mixing with aggre
gates to reduce the proportion of clay) . The
add ition of organic (e. g . straw, casein, cellu
lose fibres) or mineral (e. g . l ime, expanded
clay) additives optimises properties such as
strength, shrinkage and thermal insulation. I n
America a n d Australia cement o r synthetic d is
persions are often added to low-strength or
water-soluble loam materials. However, this
treatment impairs the material 's positive char
acteristics such as sorption, d iffusion and
Based on the type and quantity of aggregates,
we d isting uish loams for building accord ing to
the density of the finished, dry components:

solid and heavyweight loam (1 700-2200 kg/m3)

straw loam ( 1 200-1 700 kg / m3 )
l i ghtweight loam (400-1 200 kg / m 3)

Loams for building

The desi gnation of loam building materials

depends on the density, aggregates, process
ing or type of use (fi g . B 2.8). During construc
tion it is important to make sure that the
respective building material - depending on
wall thickness, temperature and humidity - is
able to dry out for a period of 3-1 0 weeks.
Tamped loam
With a density of 1 700-2200 kg/m 3 , this is the
heaviest type of loam and can be used for
loadbearing walls. Such walls are constructed
by placing the earth-damp loam in the form
work in layers 1 00-1 50 mm thick and then
compacting this. This layering can be seen
later on the finished surface and creates the


B 2.8

specific texture of this material (figs B 2 . 1 0 b

and c).
Common wall thicknesses for load bearing walls
are 400-600 mm.
This type of loam is used exclusively for the
refurbishment of historical buildings. The semi
stiff mix of straw and loam is placed in layers
using hayforks. Sharpened spades are then
used to strike off the excess material and this
results in relatively flat wall surfaces.
Straw loam
Straw loam is a soft to pulpy prepared mix of
loam and vegetable fibres (usually straw) that
can be used for filling the panels in timber
framed buildings or - pressed in moulds - for
making loam bricks and boards (fi g . B 2 . 1 0 d) .
Ready-made mixes are now available on the
Lightweight loam
Depending on the aggregates, we distinguish
between organic and mineral lightweight loam.
This material is suitable for walls, facings or the
infill panels to floors, but cannot carry any
loads apart from its own weight. It is placed
moist in formwork or moulded into bricks and
Loose fill
Organic or m ineral aggregates are mixed with
earth-damp building loam to produce a loose
fill material . The density varies between 400
and 2200 kg / m3 depending on the require
ments. This material is usually used as a solid
infill to floors and voids.
Loam mortar for render, plaster or masonry
All the major manufacturers now offer loam
mortar, to which pigments can be added to
achieve a wide range of colours (fig . B 2 . 1 O a) .
I n contrast t o other types o f mortar, loam mortar


does not set. The working time can be pro

longed indefinitely simply by adding water. Fi bre
reinforcement can be added to mortar for render
and plaster in order to prevent cracks in the
finished surface.
Many brickmaking plants produce loam bricks
and unburned (sun-dried) bricks in addition to
their standard range of clay products.

Loam and lightweight loam bricks:

These bricks are suitable for wal l infill panels

Loam building material

and facings, and floor toppings (fi gs 2 . 1 O e

and f) . Provided the strength i s adequate,
they can also assume a load bearing role.
Earth-damp pressed bricks (compressed
blocks) represent the most common form of
loam building material in the world today.
These are hig hly compressed, selected
bricks from brickmaking production that were
i ntended for firing but are then used without
firi n g . Their high clay content gives them a
good sorption capacity. They are used only
for non-load bearing purposes and in unex
posed areas not at risk of frost damage.

Compressive Thermal
strength 1


B 2. 1 0

Loam building boards are panel-type loam
materials < 50 mm thick. They are used to con
struct non-load bearing partitions. New prod
ucts made from reed-reinforced lig htweight
loam are also used for cladding dry partition
i n g . Their flat surface is ideal as a background
for loam plaster.

Heat storage

Vapour diffusion
resistance index


Building materials class 3

Type of loam

Tamped loam

1 700-2200


0.8-1 .4

1 700-2200

9/1 2

Loam infill

1 500-1800



1 500-1 800

8/1 0

not classified (nb)

Straw loam

1 200-1 700



1 200-1 700

8/ 1 0

not classified (nb)

400-1 200

s:4 '

0 . 1 2-0.5

3/5 (5/ 1 0)5

not classified (ne-se)

1 200-2200


0.5-1 .4



600-1 200


0 . 1 7-0.5

Unburned loam bricks, solid

1 900-2000


1 .05-1 .2

Unburned loam bricks, perforated

1 400-1600


Loam boards

1 200-1 800


400-1 200


0 . 1 2-0.5

1 200-1800



800-1 200



1 200-1800



600-1 200


0 . 1 7-0.5

Lightweight loam

480-1 440 (400-1 200) 5

Loam bricks
Lightweight loam bricks

Lightweight loam boards

Loam masonry mortar
Lightweight loam masonry mortar
Loam plaster mix
Lightweight loam plaster mix

1 200-2200

3/5 (5/ 1 0) 5

not classified (se)

1 900-2000



1 .05-1 . 2

1 400-1 600




1 200-1800


not classified (se-nb)

3/5 (5/1 0)5

not classified (ne-se)


not classified (se-nb)

3/5 (5/ 1 0) 5

not classified (se)


not classified (se-nb)

3/5 (5/ 1 0) 5

not classified (se)

660-1 200 (600-1 200) 5

480-1 440 (400-1 200) 5

1 200-1800
880-1 200 (800-1 200) 5
1 200-1800
660-1 200 (600-1 200) 5

1 The compressive strength must be determined in a test specific to the material; the permissible compressive stresses according to D I N are 0.3-0.5 N/mm2.

2 Figures according to Dachverband Lehm e.v. (a loam industry trade association); more favourable values must be verified according to D I N 5261 1 or 526 1 2 .
3 The building materials class must b e determined i n a specific test. T h e figures in brackets were supplied b y Dachverband Lehm e. V. and are intended a s a guide

inflammable; se

= not readily flammable;



4 Heavily dependent on type of aggregate; lightweight loam with mineral aggregate exhibits the highest strength; timber chippings

result i n a strength roughly twice that of straw.

5 Figures for loam with organic aggregates; values in brackets apply to loam with inorganic aggregates.

B 2. 1 1


Ceramic materials

The name of this man-made material is derived
from the Greek word keramos ( fired earth).
I n itial ly, ceramic vessels were produced for
storing foodstuffs and for relig ious purposes.
The first tiles for walls and floors were probably
the result of using fragments from broken ves
sels. As early as 4000 BC, the early civilisations
of Egypt, Mesopotamia and I ndia used fired
clay bricks for constructing masonry. Their water
resistance gave them a better durability than
that of un burned (sun-dried) loam bricks. Build
ers used the high compressive strength of the
clay bricks to span vaulting over interior spaces
and to construct domes. The roofs often includ
ed terraces that were rendered waterproof with
a combination of clay bricks and natural asphalt.
The high compressive strength and abrasion
resistance, durabi l ity and water resistance of
ceramic materials coupled with the mouldability
of the plastic clay mass prior to firing offer a
wide range of possi b i l ities.
I n the early days the spread of knowledge about
the production and uses of fired clay bricks
travelled the trade routes or was fostered through
battle campaigns. The basis for production was
always deposits of clay and brickworks in order
to cover the rapidly growing demand of those
early times. The development of various brick
formats and masonry bonds provided an
answer to construction and design issues.
Clay roof tiles were first used in Greece in 800 BC,
and since then have been used wherever it is
necessary to construct and cover a pitched

B 3.1

Hofhaus Estate. Fredensborg. Denmark. 1 963.

J0rn Utzon

B 3.2

Julio Herrera & Obes warehouse

B 3.3

Use of recycled clay bricks.

Uru9uay. 1 979. Eladio Dieste

business start-up centre. Hamm. Germany. 1 998.
Hegger Hegger Schleiff
B 3.4

Technical administration building. Hoechst

dyeworks. Frankfurt am Main. Germany. 1 924.
Peter Behrens

B 3.5

Clay bricks and mortar joints in various colours

with d ifferent joint forms as well


roof surface in order to drain large quantities of

rainwater. The original meaning of tegula, the
Latin word for roof tile, is still used for the clay
under-tiles used in some regions.
Much of the masonry of Roman structures com
prises two facings of clay bricks with a filling of
trass. gravel and stones (opus caementitium) in
between . The outer surfaces were finished with
render or stone facings. The downfall of the
Roman Empire also resulted in the loss of
knowledge about building techniques. It was
not until the Midd le Ages that the Gothic brick
work of loam-rich northern Germany called for
the rediscovery of the knowledge surrounding
building with clay bricks.
During the 1 9th century the number of clay
bricks in use exploded. The invention of the
extruder and the use of circular kilns resulted in
industrial production with efficient use of ener
gy, low waste and high-quality products.

Raw materials

The main constituents of clay are hydrous alu

minium silicate compounds such as kaolinite
and montmorillonite. These are created by the
mineral re-formation during the erosion of rocks
containing feldspars (e.g. granite. porphyry) .
Added to this are impurities in the form of
quartz, calcite. mica and iron oxides from the
orig inal rock, plus organic residues. The two
d imensional crystal s of the clay minerals exhibit

Ceramic materials

a foliar structure, which owing to its large sur

face area is capable of storing capillary water
and swelling. Hence, the clay minerals bond
the aggregation and make the mass plastically
Non-shrinking grog in the form of sand, q uartz
dust, clay brick dust, industrial waste (slag,
ash) or organic substances (sawdust) guaran
tee the post-drying and post-firing dimensional
stability of products made from raw materials
with a high clay content (fat clay) .
The inherent colour of a ceramic material
depends on the metal oxides of the constituent
clay and the oxygen supply during firi n g . I ron
oxide gives the body (i.e. the clay product with
out the glaze) the well-known red colour, at
higher temperatures a blue-green colour.
Manganese in the clay leads to a body with a
brown colour, graphite a grey body, and lime
a yellow body. Pure clay (kaolin) is white
(fig. B 3.5).
The potential uses of the raw material depend
on the composition of the natural clay deposit.
Clay is obtained layer by layer from open-cast

Ceramic materials for building

Owing to the different methods of preparing the

raw materials, ceramic materials for building
are divided into ordinary and fine ceramics
according to the g rain, crystal and pore sizes
of the fired body (fig . B 3.6) .
Their properties such as strength, density, poro
sity and water absorption are directly related to
the firing temperature, firing time and material
composition. As the firing temperature governs,
we can classify ceramic building materials as
Stoneware, earthenware,
hard-burned products
Porcelain (kaolin)
Refractory products
Oxidised ceramics
Special ceramics

900-1 000C
1 1 00-1 300C
1 300-1 450C
1 300-1 800C
1 500-2 1 00C
up to 2500C


The preparation of the raw materials is carried

out by means of milling, mixi n g , wetting or
draining and subsequent storage in soaking
pits to decompose the organic constituents.
Plastic and partly powder-type masses are
pressed into shape by industrial extruders.
Interchangeable d ies determi ne the shape of
the cross-section and wires cut the endless rib
bon of material into predetermined lengths.
Floor and wall tiles as well as more complex
forms such as i nterlocking roof tiles are pro
duced in presses.

Orying and firing

The following processes take place during the
heating of the moulded clay mass:
At 1 20C the unbonded water molecules, which
are necessary for the mou lding, are removed
as the material dries out.
The firing process in the tunnel kiln begins
between 450 and 600C. At this temperature
the physically bonded water and water of crys
tallisation are removed.
At 800C the material solidifies and boundary
surface reactions beg i n .
Between 1 000 and 1 500C individual phases
melt and compact the mass. Above 1 200C we
speak of sinteri n g . The resulting vitreous struc
ture surrounds the unmelted crystals and
pores, which gives the sintered body its low
water absorption.
Surface finish
The coloured, ceramic coatin g of clay slurry
mixed with metal oxides, which is appl ied to
roof tiles, facing bricks and wall panels by
immersion or spraying prior to firi n g , is known
as engobe. Besides giving the product its
colour, at firing temperatures of 1 200C and
higher a sintered engobe finish results in a
denser surface.
Glazes are vitreous coatings which seal the
ceramic material and determ i ne the hardness,
smoothness and colour of the surface. The
glazing mass comprises feldspar, quartz, lime
and dolomite, plus metal oxides to provide the
colour. The mass is fired and finely milled
before mixing with water to form a slurry. It can
be appl ied to the dried product before firing or
applied to the fired product, which is then fired
for a second time.

The recycling of clay bricks can prove to be a

laborious process owing to the unavoidable
mortar, render and plaster residue that tends to
adhere to the bricks, particularly when such
products have a high cement content. How
ever, older masonry is easier to recycle because
much of it was constructed using l ime mortar.
The use of recycled clay bricks should be wel
comed because this saves the high primary
energy requirement necessary for producing
new clay bricks and also exploits the good
durabi l ity of the material (fig . B 3.3).
Clay bricks can be used as loose fill or backfill
material in civil engineering works and road build
i n g . Rejects in the brickworks are ground and
used here to provide a comparison.

Clay masonry units

Clay bricks and blocks are produced in solid or

perforated form from clay, grog or air-entrain
ing agents and water.
D I N 1 05 part 1 - 6 defines the following types of
clay masonry units, whose properties are influ
enced by their density, proportion of voids,
strength and shape (figs B 3 . 1 0 and 3. 1 2) :




- --


8 3.5


Ceramic materials

Ordinary ceramics

1 pEarthenware
1 1 dStoneware
O== ====O==
ete-Ibringght- I 1 Non-whi
te-Ibringght- I
burning 1 1 Whiburni
burningte- 1 1 Whiburni
I 1 1 Refractory
I 1 Engineering Technical
1 Briproducts
" " d:..:u-=-ct.:: :.:s-. , bricks, brick (hard) porcelain
sisl teri
Clay bricks mani
blocks for floors bricks
Clay roof tiles
Clay pipes
e protecti

Cleaved flags
trified stone
ware pi(e.pges). stone

Part 1 Clay bricks; sol id bricks and vertically

perforated bricks:
solid bricks (Mz)
vertically perforated bricks (HLz)
brick panels ( H LzT)
hand-moulded bricks, specials
facing bricks (VMz, VHLz)
engineering bricks (KMz, KHLz)
Part 2 Clay bricks; lightweight vertically per
forated bricks
Part 3 Clay bricks; hig h-strength bricks and
high-strength engineering bricks
Part 4 Clay bricks; ceramic eng ineering
ceramic solid engineering bricks (KK)
ceramic vertically perforated engineer
ing bricks (KHK)
Part 5 Lightweight horizontally perforated
bricks (LLz) and l i ghtweight horizontal
ly perforated brick panels (LLp)
Part 6 Clay masonry units - high-precision
solid high-precision bricks (PMz)
vertically perforated high-precision
bricks (PHLz)
high-precision facing bricks (PVMz)

B 3.7

Clay ceramic materials

Fine ceramics

1 pEarthenware
1 1 dStoneware
===riO== ====O====
1 Non-whi
White-ng 1 Non-whi
burningte 1 1 burni
1 burningte- 1 1 burni
1 Stoneware
Pottery 1 1 (Stoneware
wals l Porcelain
1 products
semi-porcelain Fine terracotta

Stove tiles

1 Special ceramics 1


Wall tiles

panels of high-preci sion bricks

high-precision engineering bricks
high-precision specials

The standardised designation of the various

types of clay bricks makes use of the following
system: part 2 D I N 1 05-Hl z W 6-0.8-1 0 DF
(300) , the meaning of which is as follows:
D I N part, D I N No.
code for specific type of clay brick
perforation size A, B, C , W ( i .e. proportion of
compressive strength class (N /mm2)
density class (kg /dm3 )
format and wall thickness (mm)

The d ifferences between the physical proper

ties are evident from the basic c lassification
into solid, perforated and engineering bricks:

Sol i d bricks exh i b it a proportion of perfora

tions on the bed face amounting to 0-1 5%

B 3. 8

cs, 1
c components
elrinegctrical englneeHihiggh-temperature
h- and very
B 3.6

and are fired at temperatures of 900-1 1 OOC.

The applications include masonry, arches,
i nfill panels and columns.
Perforated bricks can be produced in the
form of vertically perforated bricks with a pro
portion of perforations on the bed face
amounting to max. 50%. They are used for
external and partition walls.
Engineering bricks are fired up to the sinter
ing limit and can be produced with or without
perforations. They are heavy, dense, hard
and frost-resistant, and emit a high-pitched
sound when tapped. They are used in water
way and canal engineerin g , also for floors
and facades.

Clay bricks with a low density exhibit better

thermal insulation properties, and the shape
and arrangement of perforations contributes to
Pores in the bricks are created by adding air
entraining agents to the raw materials, e.g.
polystyrene beads (0.25% by mass) , sawdust
or recovered stock 6% by mass) from
papermaking. Their complete incineration in
the tunnel kiln leaves behind small air pores

B 3.9

Ceramic materials

Density classes

Clay brick type

Type code

Verticcalalllyy perforated
perforated faci
bricnks9 bricks
bricnks9 bricks
Soliidd faci
Vertically perforated en9ineering bricks
Lightweight vertically perforated bricks
Brick panels
idcbriallycksperforated bricks
neering bricengi
ks neering bricks
ally perforated
id engic vert.
ng briengicksneering bricks

1.6-2.0 (2.2)
" 1.9
HLzA, HLzB, HLzW 0.6-1.0

(Compressive) strength
classes available
[N / m m"]


B 3.10

that lower the density of the clay bricks. Never

theless, their great mass is suitable for storin g
heat. The clay brick then emits t h e heat into the
interior at a later time. The fine capi l lary pores
absorb moisture and act as a buffer in the case
of fluctuations in the humidity of the internal air.
Clay bricks are classed as incombustible mate
rials of building materials class A i .
High-precision vertically perforated bricks with
integral thermal insulation
These newly developed, lightweight, vertically
perforated clay masonry units have a low den
sity (0.65 kg /dm3). They consist of air-entrained
clay bricks whose perforations are filled with
perlite. This enables thermal conductivity val
ues of around 0.09 W/mK to be achieved . For
a wall thickness of 365 mm and plaster/render
on both sides, the U-value i s then just
0.23 W/m2K. The high-precision vertically per
forated bricks from some manufacturers can
even achieve such values without a filling of
insulating material. Consequently, sing le-leaf
external wall constructions with this sol id wal l
material can assume the thermal insulation role
at the same time. This material represents an
alternative to lightweight assemblies and ther
mal insulation composite systems.

The DIN 1 05 designations also imply the type

of application. According to the standard , clay
masonry units are divided into backing, facing
and engineering bricks. Perforated clay bricks
require weather protection in the form of render
or a frost-resistant external cladd i n g . In princi
ple, the low water absorption of sintered clay
masonry units makes them suitable for facing
masonry i n the form of frost-resistant rai n pro
tection . This protection is g uaranteed by flush,
water-repellent mortar joints between the
masonry units. The colour and pointin g of the
mortar joints influence the character of the wal l
surface. To create a flush mortar joint i t i s
essential for the joint to be fully filled with mor-

tar. After the mortar has stiffened but is not fully

set, a suitable tool ( e . g . piece of plastic hose)
is run along the joint to compact the surface of
the mortar, which results in a l i g ht concave fin
ish to the joint.
If this is carried out after the mortar has set, the
mortar must first be raked out to a depth of
1 5 -20 mm before the joint is pointed with new
mortar and finished as described above.

classificaticloany ofengicerami
BB Systemati
ow claysioblnockvertiforcalflolyoriperforated
ng purposes
B 3. 9 HiHol
clay brick with
B 3.10 speci
vtoe DIstrength
classes of
B 3.11 Germany,
Garden Room,
B 3.12 DIPhysi
al parameters of clay brick masonry to
N Vc4108-4


Discoloration of masonry in the form of salty

deposits is seldom a result of the soluble sub
stances contained in the building material itself.
The moisture that penetrates the clay bricks by
capillary action can dissolve the salts and carry
them to the surface. However, proper firing
converts and composes the majority of such
soluble salts in the mass of c lay. So the cause
of efflorescence is more likely to be found in
the type of mortar used and the use of the
incorrect bricks for the degree of climatic expo
sure for a certain type of construction and type
of joint.

Hollow clay block floors and wall panels

Clay blocks are produced for placing between

reinforced concrete ribs (fig . B 3.8) . They have
a large proportion of perforations which reduc
es the overall weight and improves their sound
insulation qualities. The forms and d i mensions
of this ord inary ceramic building material vary
consi derably, but the type of construction is
based on the combination of concrete ribs,
steel or timber beams and the clay blocks
placed in the i ntervening spaces (see " I nter
mediate floors", p. 1 65).
The standard makes a d i stinction between
structural clay blocks to D I N 41 59 for hollow
clay block floors, reinforced concrete ribbed
floors and prefabricated wall panels. Such clay
blocks can accommodate flexural compressive



Design value
for thermal
conductivity 1

Water vapour
resistance index

Solid, vert. perforated and ceramic engineering bricks

Solid and vertically perforated bricks
Lightweight vert. perforated bricks with AlB perforations
Lightweight vertically perforated bricks type W
be reduced
06 WdesiImKgnwhen
ght mortar
to DINby1053-1.
B 3.12


Ceramic materials

8 3. 1 5

8 3. 1 3

stresses and are provided with mounting strips

or supports on the sides. Complete or partial
mortar filling of the vertical joints is possible.
Non-structural clay blocks to DIN 4 1 60 can
carry loads during installation only.

natural colour is red , but clay roof tiles can be

produced in other colours by a number of
methods, e . g . glaz i n g , steam treatment,
engobe finish. Newly developed coati ngs
exhi b it the Lotus Effect, which i ncreases the
durabi l ity of the roof tile - rainwater simply rins
es any dust and dirt away.

Clay roof tiles


No deformations or cracks are permitted in the

Clay roof tiles are planar, ordinary ceramic
g laze or engobe finish that may impair the serv
products for the rainproof covering of pitched
roof surfaces and facades. These units are fixed iceabi l ity and weathering resistance. Clay roof
individually and overlap in such a way that rain tiles must be dimensionally stable, i mpervious
to water, frost-resistant and be capable of car
water is rel iably drained (see "The building
rying a specified minimum load. Type of tile,
envelope" , p . 1 23). We classify clay roof tiles
according to their production, shape and dimen type of roof covering and roof pitch are interre
lated. Specifying a minimum (recommended)
sions (fig . B 3. 1 6) .
roof pitch guarantees a rainproof construction.
The construction of the roof surface, the loca
Wire-cut clay roof tiles
tion of the building and the local c l imate are
Wire-cut clay roof tiles generally have a simple
further factors that will have an influence.
geometry and include the following types:

Non-interlocking clay roof tiles:

plain tiles (bullnose tiles)
I nterlocking clay roof tiles (one side rib only) :
wire-cut interlocking tiles

Pressed clay roof tiles

Pressed clay roof ti les can be produced with
tapering forms or one or more interlocking head ,
tai l and side ribs.

Non-interlocking clay roof tiles:

flat pan tiles
under-and-over tiles
I nterlocking clay roof tiles:
wire-cut interlocking tiles
Roman tiles
interlocking tiles with twin ribs
interlocking pantiles
interlocking flat pan tiles
tiles with adjustable head lap

In addition, special tiles are available for use at

junctions, terminations and transitions, e . g .
verge, ridge o r wal l . Standard a n d special clay
roof tiles are covered by D I N EN 1 304. There
are no standardised dimensions, merely recom
mendations for manufacturers. The standard ,


Stoneware pipes

Stoneware pipes are used for draining land

and for drainage networks. When laid in the
ground they exhi bit excellent durability ( 1 00+
years), good chemical resistance (ph 0-1 4) ,
high mechanical strength, imperviousness and
high hardness values. The raw material for their
manufacture consists of clay, water and
chamotte (refractory clay as grog ) ; the latter is
responsible for the stabil ity and dimensional
stability. Worm extruders compress the plastic
mass, which also has any air inclusions
removed in a vacuum chamber. The spigot
and-socket joints are formed in the same oper
ation. Depending on the nominal d iameter,
there are various coupling systems with plastic
sealing elements available. Each pipe is glazed
i nternally and externally prior to firing.
Every pipe is stamped on its shaft with the
European standard D I N EN 295, the manufac
turer's I D , the nominal diameter, the load-carry
ing capacity in kN /m and the coupling system.

o 8 0 0

8 3. 1 6

Ceramic materials

eng ineering bricks and terracotta tiles can be

used as floor coverings.

Ceramic floor and wall finishes

Ceramic tiles and flags are classified accord

ing to the corresponding quality demands of
DIN EN 1 44 1 1 and their production and mois
ture absorbance (fig . B 3. 1 8) .

Wire-cut tiles and flags


The firing temperature and porosity of the body

influence the water absorption.
Tiles and flags with low water absorption
(E s: 3%) have a fine-grained, sintered body.
The voids are filled and the surface contracts
during firing to give this ceramic building mate
rial high strength , frost resistance and resis
tance to alkalis and acids. This includes stone
ware (8TZ) with glazed (GL) and ung lazed
(UGL) surfaces.
Tiles and flags with high water absorption (E >
1 0%) are fired below the sintering limit. They
therefore exhi b it a pore volume of 20-30%,
After the first firing (biscuit or bisque firin g ) , the
glaze is applied which seals the tile after the
second (glost) firing. This group of products
includes stoneware tiles (8TG) with a white
body, and earthenware tiles ( I G ) with a col
oured body. As these products are not frost
resistant, they may only be used internally.
Further selection criteria are the type of loading
as well as the assessment of anti-slip proper
ties. The displacement volume of profiled tiles
is the volume between the traffic surface and
the water run-off level. This is important, for
example, for floor coverings in swimming pools
and industrial buildings.
The properties and specifications give rise to
the potential applications:
Stoneware and earthenware tiles can be used
as wall finishes, also small-format stoneware
products (ceramic mosaic) ,
Ceramic cleaved flags , stoneware tiles, small
format stoneware products, fine stoneware,

Wire-cut tiles and flags belong to the group of

ordinary ceramic products that are fired above
the sintering l imit. The body is coloured. Their
production is primarily in the form of a double
flag of plastic clay mass that is separated after
firing with a hammer-blow to form a cleaved or
split flag. R i bs on the rear face form an i nter
lock with the mortar bed. These tiles and flags
are suitable as wal l and floor finishes, facades,
terraces, for industrial plants and swimming
The split flags must be resistant to temperature
fluctuations, alkalis and acids. They are avail
able in various formats, colours and dimen
sions, glazed or unglazed. Frost resistance is
only req uired for split flags of group AI, I n d ivid
ual flags are rare and are often re-pressed to
improve their properties.
Dry-pressed tiles and flags

Dry-pressed ti les and flags belong to the group

of fine ceramic products. Clay, kaolin, finely
m i l led quartz sand and chalk are mixed with
water to an even consistency. Afterwards, hot
air is blown into the mix in a spray tower to
remove the water. The powder-like, fine-grained
mass i s pressed into moulds at high pressure
prior to firing. These tiles and flags are availa
ble in g lazed, partially g lazed and ung lazed
versions. The surface of the ung lazed products
can be smooth, rough or textured depending
on req u i rements.
Other production methods are in use but these
play only a m inor role for building products.

Tiles and flags can be applied to horizontal or

vertical surfaces, Laying in a thick bed requires

tiles and flags

Group AI

Group A l l . ,

Group A l l . ,

Group A l I I

Appendix A



Appendix F

( D I N EN

( D I N EN

( D I N EN






E ,;; 0,5 %



Group A I I
Appendix C

Group A I I .'
Appendix E

( D I N EN

( D I N EN


Group BI




l lb

Appendix J

Appendix K

( D I N EN

( D I N EN


0,5 B 3
% ,;; E <




Jmn Utzon

Selection of clay roof tile profiles:

a interlocking tile
b flat pan tile
c un der- and over-tiles
d bullnose tile
e pantile
f wire-cut interlocking tile
g flat roof tile with interlocking ribs on all sides
h tile with adjustable head lap

B 3,17
B 3.18 2002,14411
B 3,19

Clay roof tiles as roof covering and facade clad

ding on houses near The Hague, Netherlands,

Classification of ceramic tiles and flags to

Holiday home, Muuratsalo, Finland,

Alvar Aalto


(the DIN numbers valid up to

are given in brackets)

( D I N EN


(9 (9
1- (Jl (f)

Group B i l l

(f) Appendix L
Q) +=' ( D I N EN

ID '"


;:: ID

ID r.
c t::



Tile-covered roof of the Sydney Opera House,



Appendix G


Clay roof tiles in various colours

Stoneware pipes

Group III
E > 10%

Group I
E $ 3%


Group ".
3% < E $ 6%

Group ".
6% < E $ 1 0%

Moisture absorption
Moulding process

tiles and flags

BB 3.13
B 3,14
B 3.16




B 3.17

a solid substrate on which the 1 0 -20 mm thick

layer of cement mortar is laid in order to even
out any irregularities.
Laying in a thin bed is carried out using
hydraul i c mortar or a suitable adhesive. The
2 - 4 mm thick layer of mortar/adhesive calls for
a flat, soli d substrate.

.8 '"

(Jl W

( D I N EN

Tiles and flags produced

with other methods

Group Cl

Group C I I

Group C l l b

Group C I I I

B 3,18


Building materials
with mineral binders

8 4. 1

8 4. 1

Building materials with mineral binders have

been known for thousands of years. The Phoe
nicians, Egyptians, Trojans and Greeks were
fami liar with mortar made from gypsum and
lime, which they used for masonry and also as
a protective layer of p laster or render. It has
been proven that Greek builders used lime
mortar in the 2nd century BC as an infi l l materi
al for rubble stone masonry. The Romans
refined this method in order to erect great
structures such as the Colosseum in Rome.
They called it opus caementitium, a mixture of
lime (as the binder) , pozzolana and tuff with
aggregates of gravel and stones, and used it
carefully compacted - as an infill material
between masonry facings of clay bricks or
stone. The clay bricks were sometimes given a
protective covering of render, or a stone fac i n g .
For uti lity b u i l d i n g s a n d foundations opus cae
mentitium was used alone, cast in timber form
work. In the year 1 3 BC Vitruvius described the
composition of the hydraulic mortar which at
that time was already achieving strengths
equivalent to those of modern-day concretes
(fig . B 4 ) . The Pantheon in Rome with its 43 m
span, built in 27 BC, remains to this day the
most i mpressive example of this method of
construction . However, after the downfal l of the
Roman Empire the knowledge about opus cae
mentitium was lost and was not red iscovered
until the 1 9th century.

From t h e M i d d l e Ages onwards, gypsum was

often used as a binder for screeds, mortars
and, later, for scagliola. The panels of timber
framed buildings were filled with gypsum mor
tar reinforced with straw or horsehair.
The French engineer Bernard Forest de Belidor
( 1 698-1 761 ) described the composition of mor
tar and was the first person to use the term
beton ( concrete) to denote a mixture of
water-resistant mortar plus aggregates. I n 1 824
Joseph Aspd i n was granted a patent for Port
land cement, a mixture of fired lime in powder
form p l us clay.
Auguste Perret ( 1 874-1954) was one of the first
architects to use concrete for housebuilding
and consistently demonstrated the possibilities
of this material for industrial structures.
The buildings of the Expressionist architects
and others like Frank Lloyd Wright ably demon
strated the mouldability of concrete. The 1 950s
saw the appearance of ultra-thin , efficient shell
structures. Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn
employed fair-face concrete surfaces con
sciously as a means of aesthetic design.

8 4.2

8 4.3

Mineral binders

Binders hold together the grain-type constitu

ents (agg regates l ike sand or gravel) of mortar
and concrete. A diverse set of properties, e . g .

Reinforced concrete vaulting, wine cellar, Pamplo

na, Spain, 1 999, Jaime Gaztelu, Ana Fernandez

8 4.2

Opus Caementitium,

Caracalla thermal baths,

Rome, Italy, AD 2 1 7
8 4 .3

Reinforced concrete structural frame, former

Fiat factory, Lingotto, Turin, Italy, 1 927,
Giacomo Matteo Trucco

8 4.4


Composition of m ineral binders

Building materials with mineral binders

I gneous rocks









8 4.4

strength, vapour permeabil ity, compressive

strength and elasticity, are controlled via the
chemical curing process (fi g . B 4.6) .

Gypsum is a natural substance, a compound of

calcium sulphate ( lime) and water: CaS04 .
2H p (hydrated calcium sulphate). In order to
obtain a form of gypsum that will cure ( i . e . set
hard), the natural gypsum is crushed, ground
and subsequently fired i n rotary kilns at tem
peratures between 300 and 1 000C. This
drives off the bound water of crystallisation (the
extent depending on the temperature) to pro
duce the different types of gypsum for build i n g ,
which are classified accord ing t o the hydration
stages of the calcium sulphate. The proportions
of anhydrite (CaS0 4 ) without water of crystalli
sation and hemihydrate in the gypsum deter
mine the properties and the curing behaviour.
Hemihydrate plaster, for example, is produced
by firing at low temperatures, anhydrous gyp
sum plaster at high temperatures. Adding
water causes the gypsum to harden on expo
sure to the air and, with the simultaneous
development of heat, to form natural gypsum
again, i.e. the firing process is reversed during
the hardening reaction by integrating the mix
ing water as water of crystallisation. The
processing of gypsum by means of firing, mix
ing and curing therefore represents a closed
Calcium sulphate is also formed as a by-prod
uct of a number of technical processes, e . g .
flue gas desulphurisation a t power stations
fired by fossi l fuels. The moist so-called desul
pho gypsum obtained must first be dried, but
like natural gypsum it is suitable for a mu ltitude
of gypsum products.
Properties and applications
Additives and the water/gypsum ratio influence
the strength , workability and porosity of the
hardened material. Gypsum does not shrink
during processing and has a positive effect on
the interior c l imate thanks to its abil ity to absorb
and release moisture. However, as constant
contact with water would d issolve the gypsum ,
i t is unsuitable for wet rooms. Gypsum mixed
with various aggregates is used for plastering

interior surfaces. The raw material is used for

manufacturing a multitude of products, espe
cially boards, masonry units and moulded
parts. These products are fire-resistant because
upon exposure to heat the water stored in the
crystals is released again. In concrete mixes
the add ition of gypsum retards the rate of cur
i n g . The most important products include:
scagliola, stucco
plaster of Paris, ready-mixed plaster, bond
ing plaster, machine-applied plaster
browning plaster, joint plaster, fi l ler/stopper
anhydrite bi nders
prefabricated gypsum products
Anhydrite binders
Anhydrite binders are produced from natural
deposits of anhydrite or from synthetic anhy
drite, a by-product of various chemical proc
esses. They harden in the same way as normal
gypsum products. Owing to their low solu b i lity,
activators in the form of alkaline substances
(e.g. lime or cement) or salty substances (e.g.
sul phates) must be added in order to bring
about a period of hydration appropriate for the
work. Anhydrite binders are used for plaster
mixes (see "Surfaces and coatings", p. 1 90) ,
screeds, masonry units and wall panels.

lime represents a closed cycle because the

final outcome of the whole process is limestone
Hydraulic limes
Natural hydraulic l imes are produced by firing
marlaceous limestone at temperatures of up to
approx. 1 250C. This produces fired lime and
c l inker mi nerals, which are also found in
cement. D uring the slaking process the fired
lime reacts with water to form calcium hydrate
(Ca(OH) ) whereas the c l inker m inerals remain
2 '
unaltere d .
Hydraulic l imes consist of mixtures of calcium
hydrate, which hardens in the air through car
bonation, plus hydraul ically hardening pozzola
na, which is found in volcanic cinder (scoria) or
industrial slag. As the proportion of pozzolana
in the mixture increases, so the strength of the
hydraulically hardening lime rises and with it
the capacity to harden in air, but also underwa
ter, after a fast i nitial set. The setting time is
reduced accord i n g ly. Accord ing to DIN EN 459
we therefore d istinguish between hydraulic lime
2 , hydraulic lime 3.5 and hydraulic l ime 5 . The
latter is also known as masonry l ime.

Limes are used for mortar, but also i n pure form

for thin coatings. The quality req uirements are
laid down in D I N EN 459.


The limes used in building are mixtures of the

oxides and hydroxides of calcium, magnesium,
s i l i con and iron. Lime can be found in nature in
the form of limestone (CaC03) and dolomite.
Building l imes are d ivided into non-hydraulic
and hydraulic varieties owing to the different
setting processes.
Non-hydraulic limes
Non-hydraulic lime (high-calcium lime) is pro
duced by firing limestone at approx. 900C.
Afterwards, the fired lime (CaCO) is "slaked" by
adding water. The considerable heat develop
ment and increase in volume produces slaked
lime (Ca(OH) ) which is used as a binder for
2 '
mortar and coatings.
I n order to harden, the mortar requires water
and carbon dioxide from the air so that carbonic
acid can carbonate the lime. The processing of

The non-hydrau lic l imes include:

dry hydrate, white lime
dolomitic lime, dolomitic hydrate

The hydraulic l imes i nclude:

water b urnt lime, slaked lime
hydraulic lime, masonry lime

Magnesia cement

The production of magnesia, or Sorel 's, cement

requires magnesite (Mg C03 ) or dolomite
(CaMg(C03 ) ) ' Firing at temperatures between
800 and 900C produces magnesium oxide,
so-called caustic magnesia, which reacts with
water. Firing magnesite at temperatures exceed
ing 1 600C produces sintered magnesium
oxide, which can be used for refractory bricks.
This material no longer reacts with water.
Caustic magnesia is used as a binder in


Building materials with mineral binders


Hydr. lime

Density in



[kg / m"]

[N / mm'l

[kg / m"]

2900-3200 32.5; 42.5; 52.5

850-1600 10; 40 '
2; 3. 5 ; 5
2900-3000 5; 20
2000 5; 50



l '


, The compressive strengths of non-hydraulic limes and

gypsums are not standardised; average compressive

screeds and wood wool slabs. The addition of

salt solutions forms a polishable compound
within just a few hours. A d iverse ran ge of fill
ers, e . g . wood chips, can be mixed i nto the
magnesia cement without causing any signifi
cant loss of strength.

Cements are hydraulic binders for mortar and

concrete. They consist of compounds of calci
um, silicon, aluminium and iron oxide. The
oxide composition varies depend ing on the
type of cement. D I N EN 1 97 divides the types
of cement into five main groups (CEM I-V) :
Portland cement, Portland composite cement,
blast-furnace cement, pozzolanic cement and
composite cement.
The production of Portland cement, the most
widely used type of cement, involves firing a
mixture of lime and clay at 1 450C, i . e . above
the sintering limit. Afterwards, the resulting
cement clinker is ground in ball mills - requir
ing a great deal of energy - to form a fine pow
der, the cement. The high strength of cements
distinguishes them from other hydrau lic binders.
The addition of water enables the cements to
set both in the air and underwater while giving
off heat - a chemical-physical process known
as hydration. It begins as soon as the first
water comes into contact with the grains of
cement. At first this produces cement paste,
which slowly changes from the l i q u i d or pulpy
state to the solid hydrated cement. The concrete


i s placed and compacted d uring this hardening

and setting process. 0 1 N EN 1 97 specifies mini
mum times for the onset of settin g , which lie
between 45 and 75 minutes depending on the
cement strength class. The addition of about 35% gypsum prolongs the curing time. The cur
ing to form a solid body is a longer process,
which is essentially concluded after
28 days with the test for minimum compressive
strength. The following conditions must be ful
filled during the hardening process:
sufficient mixing water for wetting and hydra
high humidity, protection against drying out,
wetting with water sometimes req u i red
temperature > 5C, high temperatures accel
erate the hardening process

strengths have been used here to provide a comparison.


frost resistance are achieved with a value 0.6.

The concrete strength classes to EC2, the
strength classes of standard cements and the
water/cement ratio are all interrelated.

White cement
White cement has the same properties as Port
land cement but owing to its lighter colour is
preferred for fair-face concrete, terrazzo
finishes, etc.

D I N EN 1 97-1 divides the cements into classes

(Z) according to the minimum compressive
strength (in N / m m2 after 28 days, standard
prism 40 x 40 x 1 60 m m ) . Depending on the
setting process of the various types of cement,
the letter N describes a normal initial set and
the letter R a high i n itial strength . The types of
cement can be basically allocated to the follow
ing strength classes:

Water/cement ratio
The water/cement ratio (w/c ratio) describes the
relationship between the quantity of water and
Z 32.5 N; Z 42.5 N primarily blast-furnace
weight of cement as a percentage. This ratio is
Z 32.5 R; Z 42.5 R primarily Portland and
critical for complete hydration. The value deter
mines the porosity of the hydrated cement and
Portland blast-furnace
hence the strength.
During hydration about 40% of the cement by
Z 52.5 N; Z 52.5 R Portland cement only
weight (w/c ratio 0.4) is chemically and physi
cally bonded to the water. I n practice the values
lie between 0.42 and 0.75. A hi gher w/c ratio
Aggregates and additives/admixtures
results in a hi gher porosity, d ue to the water
filled pores, which impairs the properties of the
The nature and size of the g rains added to the
mineral binders to form the main constituent
concrete. I mperviousness to water and good
(65-80% by vol .) determine the properties of a
mortar or concrete.


We d ivide aggregates for concrete into light

weight, normal-weight and heavy aggregates
accord ing to their density.
Aggregates like sand and gravel consist of
rounded, unbroken grains. Chippings and bal
last, which are produced in mills by crushing
larger rocks, are described as angular grains.
This type of aggregate also includes grains
obtained from recycled concrete.

8 4.7

8 4.8

Building materials with mineral binders

Lightweight aggregates
Mortar and concrete with lightweight inorganic
aggregates exhibit i mproved thermal insulation
properties and better behaviour in fire. Tuff,
pumices and scoria are some of the natural
lightweight aggregates; the man-made ones
include expanded clay, expanded shale,
foamed slag, and clay brick chippings. I n cer
tain applications it is also possi ble to find wood
wool, wood chips and plastics such as polysty
rene beads.
Normal-weight aggregates
According to their average densities, blends of
gravel, chippings, ballast, mineral recycling
materials and sand are regarded as normal
weight aggregates.
Heavy aggregates
Iron ores, lead shot, sulphates and barytes are
heavy aggregates that can shield radioactive
radiation and are therefore used in the con
struction of nuclear reactors and x-ray faci l ities.
Grading curves
The proportions of the various grain sizes in a
graded aggregate have a major influence on
the material properties. They govern the worka
bility and compactability of the wet concrete
and the quantities of water and binder required.
In order to achieve high density and high
strength with as little bi nder as possible, con
crete aggregates to D I N 4226 should form a
dense structure of coarse and fine particles
and have a small surface area that must be
coated by the binder. The smal ler grain sizes
are responsible for good workability and com
pactability. In reinforced concrete the largest
grain should be smaller than the clear spacing
between the reinforcing bars and between rein
forcing bars and formwork (concrete cover) so
that an adequate covering of binder is always
guaranteed. The maximum size of aggregate in
reinforced concrete is usually approx. 32 mm,
in mortar approx. 4 mm.
Standardised grading curves specify the com
position of the graded aggregate. Graded
aggregate is sieved with a standard set of
sieves (nine sieves with mesh apertures from
0.25 to 63 mm) . The result allows us to deter
mine how much (in % by mass) of the total
mass of aggregate has passed each sieve and
whether the mixture can be i mproved by add
ing certain grain sizes.

Chemical substances may be added to

improve the concrete properties during working
and in the finished state. Plasticisers ease the
placing of the concrete. Accelerators and
retarders enable the heat generation d uring
setting to be adjusted to the external tempera
ture (fig. B 49) .

Metal oxides can be used to produce coloured

concrete products. Organic pigments on the

other hand, do not usually remain chemically

stable in the cement mixture, and this limits
the choice of colours.


Mortar is a mixture of binder, water and sand,

possibly also additives/admixtures to improve
the properties. The constituents are either
mixed on site or premixed at the works. As the
composition of standardised mortars is more
accurate in the works than on the building
site, premixed mortars are preferred. We dis
tinguish between several types of mortar:
Ready-mixed mortars are ready-to-use
standard mortars of groups 1 1 , I l a and I l l .
They contain a retarder that maintains work
abil ity for up to 36 hours.
Premixed "coarse stuff" consists of a mix
ture of non-hydraulic or hydraulic lime plus
aggregates to which water and - depend
ing on req u i rements - other binders are
added on site.
Premixed dry mortar is suppl ied in sacks or
filled into the silos of on-site batching
plants; water is added on site according to
the suppl ier's i nstructions.
I n on-site batching plants the raw materials
are stored separately and then mixed on
site with water in a predetermined ratio.
Mortar can improve sound and thermal insula
tion as well as fire protection. Depending on
the application, we d istinguish between mor
tar for masonry, renders and screeds. Mortar
for masonry ensures shear- and compression
resistant joints between the i nd ividual mason
ry units. Mortar for renders - in the form of a
thin, uniform coating - protects walls against
the weather and mechanical damage, or
forms a substrate for further work (fig . B 4 . 1 1 ) .
Mortar for screeds serves as a wearing
course or as a backing for the floor covering
(see " F loors", p. 1 72 ) .
Mortar for masonry

Mortar for masonry is d ivided into normal

weight mortar ( N M ) , lightwei g ht mortar (LM)
and thin-bed mortar (OM) (fig . B 4 . 1 0) .
D I N 1 053-1 d ivides normal-weight mortars
into a further five groups, distinguished
accord ing to their binder and sand content.
This leads to corresponding applications.
Group I mortars may not be used in, for exam
ple, walls more than two full storeys high and
in walls < 240 mm thick. There are no such
restrictions for group II and I l a mortars. Group
I I I and I l i a mortars may not be used for the
external leaves of double-leaf masonry walls.
Lightweight mortars are defined as mortars
with an oven-dry density < 1 .5 kg/dm3. If the
value is below 1 .0 kg/dm3, the mortar i s
c lassed as a thermal insu lation mortar that
can be used for masonry with a low thermal










Air enlrainer











G routing aid





B 4.9

Min. 28-day compress.


Mortar for
DIN 1 053

IN/ mm>]

IN / mm>]

Min. adhesive
shear strength

IN / mm>]

Normal,weight mortar

















Lightweight mortar
LM 2 1 ; LM 36
Thinbed mortar

B 4. 1 0

Type of mortar
Mortar for
DIN V 1 8550


Nonhydraulic lime mortar

Hydraulic lime mortar

Mortar with hydraulic lime

Min. 28-day
quality test

Mortar with masonry lime


or mortar with render

& masonry binder

P ili

Lime cement mortar

Cement mortar with


lime hydrate


Cement mortar

Gypsum mortar

Gypsum sand mortar

Gypsum lime mortar

Lime gypsum mortar

Anhydrite mortar

Anhydrite lime mortar

B 4. 1 1

B 4.5

Structural shell, bus terminal, Casar de Caceres,

Spain, 2003, Justo Garcia Rubio

B 4.6
B 4.7

Physical parameters of mineral binders

Reinforced concrete structure with artistic use of
joints and formwork, Stadelhofen railway station,
Zurich, Switzerland, 1 990, Santiago Calatrava

B 4.8


Villa Savoye, Poissy, France, 1 929, Le Corbusier

Designation of concrete additives/admixtures to
D I N E N 934-2

B 4 . 1 0 Mortar for masonry, D I N 1 053 groups

B 4. 1 1 Mortar for render, D I N V 1 8 550 groups


Building materials with mineral binders

strength class
for normalweight concrete

strength classes
to EC2 '

Normal-weight concrete


strength, characteristic value '

mean value

mean value

IN / mm"]


IN / mm"]

IN / mm"]



1 .6

26 000
27 500


C 1 6/20



1 .9















32 000










35 000










37 000

1 The characteristic compressive strength corresponds to the strength of a cylinder, 1 50 mm dia. x 300 mm long,

28 d old, the second value to the strength of a cube, 1 50 x 1 50 x 1 50 mm side length, 28 days old.

Thin-bed mortars with aggregates < 1 mm are

suitable for masonry with bed joints and per
pends < 3 mm. The low proportion of joints
results in a lower thermal transmittance through
the wal l .


These days, concrete is produced with a high

q uality and used for a multitude of different
applications. The architectural options extend
from mechanical surface treatment to printing
to the use of special types of cement, e . g .
white concrete (fi g . B 4. 1 4). Tadao Ando is a
proponent of the aesthetic use of fair-face con
crete, wel l known for his skilful use of surface
treatments and the arrangement of formwork
ties as a design element (fi g . B 4 . 1 2) .
Mixtures of cement, aggregates a n d water
harden to form a man-made stone - concrete.
Accord ing to the density of the aggregates, we
class concrete as normal-weight, lightweight or
heavy. The aggregates, cement and additives/
admixtures determine the properties of the con
crete. As a rule, 1 m3 of normal-weight (wet)
concrete comprises 2000 kg gravel, 250-400 kg
cement plus 1 50 kg water.

Concrete components can be cast on site (in

situ concrete) or prefabricated off site and then
transported to the building site (precast con
Wet concrete ( i . e . stil l workable) can be mould
ed i nto virtually any shape. The formwork acts
as the mou ld and is usually made from timber
or wood-based products. I n the case of larger
components the timber formwork is supported
by steel props and frames. Threaded fasteners
(formwork ties) pass through the component,
e . g . a wal l , and d i stribute the pressure of the
wet concrete. This leaves holes in the concrete
after the formwork has been struck and these
holes are a typical feature of fair-face concrete
surfaces, just like the material and surface tex
ture of the formwork. The striking times for
B 4. 1 5


B 4.13

formwork are standardised depending o n the

type of component and the strength of the
Placing and compacting
Normally, the concrete is placed in the form
work with the help of hoses and pumps. Once
in position, it is compacted with vibrating plant
and other equipment in order to minimise the
air content, create a good surface finish and
generate a structural bond with the steel rein
Self-compacting concrete
The use of self-compacting concrete (SCC) is
growing. The consistency of this concrete ena
bles it to be placed in the formwork without the
need for any additional mechanical compact
ing measures. The fluid consistency is
achieved by adding plasticisers. Self-compact
ing concrete is ideal for fair-face concrete and
components with complex geometry. However,
there is sti l l no standard covering loadbearing
components made from this material .
The temperature and humidity of the air influ
ence the hardening process and the properties
of the concrete. Concrete components must
therefore be properly cured for at least seven
days after pourin g . In order to prevent prema
ture drying-out, concrete is therefore left in the
formwork and surfaces are covered with sheet
ing or sprayed with water or a curing agent.
The striking times depend on the dimensions of
the component and the strength class of the
Concrete has a low tensile strength but a high
compressive strength (fi g . B 4 . 1 3) . Providing
reinforcement in the form of steel meshes and/
or bars creates a composite material which,
due to the bond between the steel and the
hardened cement, achieves high tensile and
compressive strengths. The steel reinforcement
also prevents excessive shrinkage cracking.

Building materials with mineral binders

B 4.12 Formwork tie holes left exposed in finished con

crete wall, Koshino House, Japan, 1 984, Tadao
B 4.13 Compressive strength classes for normal-weight
concrete to EC 2
B 4.14 White cement, white stone dust and white pig
ments, Office of the Federal Chancellor, Berlin,
Germany, 2001 , Axel Schultes
B 4.15 Porous drainage boards laid in the formwork, holi
day home near Flums, Switzerland, 2003, EM2N
B 4.16 Physical parameters of concrete in relation to the
B 4.17 Masonry units (cement binder + natural aggre
gate) , New Synagogue, Dresden, Germany, 2001 ,
Wandel Hoefer Lorch + Hirsch

Concrete with various



of elasticity strength

[kg m"l



1 300
1 800

1 .5


[kJ/ m3K)


1 .4 1
1 .30
1 .08

1 1 02
1 435
1 560


1 .52
1 .79
1 .92

1 553

Heatconductivity capacity

Lightweight wood particle concrete

1 5%

1 300
1 450

by vol. wood
by vol. wood
by vol. wood
by vol. wood

Lightweight wood particle concrete

37% by vol. wood.

2 7 % b y vol. wood,
26% by vol. wood,
20% by vol. wood,

1 3%

by vol. PCM
by vol. PCM
by vol. PCM
by vol. PCM

phase-change material (PCM) ,

1 025
1 1 75
1 300
1 425

1 600

1 2.2

PCMs are latent heat storage media that can absorb thermal energy over a certain range without a rise in tempera
ture. This is achieved through a phase transition from solid to liquid.
B 4. 1 6

Concrete cover
The strongly alkali ne composition of the con
crete protects the reinforcement against corro
sion. However, over time carbon dioxide or
chlorides from the surroundings (e.g. sea salt
or de-icing salt) can penetrate the surface and
together with moisture bring about chemical
neutralisation of the outer layers of the concrete.
In order to prevent such substances reaching
and corroding the reinforcement, D I N 1 045
specifies minimum dimensions for the concrete
cover. If these dimensions are not adhered to,
the reinforcement may corrode , which leads to
an increase in volume and to spal l i n g of the
concrete. Important factors influencing the con
crete cover are the exposure conditions and
the diameter of the reinforcing bars.

crete). A new development is translucent con

crete in which light-carrying fibres (e. g . g lass
fibres) are used as an aggregate (see "The
architect as building materials scout", p. 1 7) .
Environmental compatability

The lion's share of the primary energy required

for the production of concrete goes into the
manufacture of the cement clinker. In order to
avoid transportin g ready-mixed concrete over
long d i stances, it is usual to set up a batching
plant on large building sites. H i g h-qual ity con
crete leads to more slender components and so
the greater effort during construction is offset by
lower consumption of materials and a longer
service life.

Quality control
Quality control measures guarantee the quality
of the concrete during all operations because
deviations from the standardised processes
would mean that the concrete can no longer
comply with the design requirements. For
example, the concrete mix and its compressive
strength are checked using test cubes prior to
construction, and the production i s monitored
constantly. Placing and curing of the concrete
must be recorded accurately by the site staff
Special types of concrete

In principle, concrete from demolished buildings

can be reused for new concrete components.
Up until now pieces from building debris have
been mainly used in roadbuilding and for filling
work, i.e. for low-grade operations ("downcyc
l i n g " ) . It is already possi ble to examine the qual
ity of the scrap material, however, and thus
create the regulatory framework for the reuse of
concrete as aggregate. But owing to its angular
form and grading curve, concrete mixes with
this aggregate require a h igher cement content.
This nullifies the advantages of recycl i ng
because the cement production is associated
with a high energy i nput.

Properties and applications

Concrete is i ncombustible (building materials

class A 1 ) and resistant to many aggressive
substances. By choosing the right the mix,
concrete can be made resistant to de-icing
salts, impervious to water or gastight.
Plain concrete components
Concrete components without reinforcement
are suitable for numerous applications:

External works: e . g . slabs and pavings, kerb

stones, concrete blocks for embankments
Services and shafts: waste water pipes,
inspection chambers
Floors: filler blocks for floor slabs
Roof coverings: concrete roof tiles, available
in similar formats to clay roof tiles, but also in
large formats
I nternal fitting-out: concrete blocks for walls,
reconstituted stone blocks, floor finishes,
stair treads
Reinforced concrete components
Loadbearing assemblies can be prefabricated
from columns and beams in any form, e.g. to
match the bendi n g moment d iagram. At the
precasting yard formwork with multiple reuses
can be worthwhile, especially in the case of
components with complex geometry. Stair
flights are frequently made from precast con
crete. Precast concrete planks are precast with

The use of fibres made from g lass, synthetic

materials, steel or carbon can further alter the
properties of the concrete, e . g . increase the
tensile strength, improve the i mpact toughness,
reduce cracking.
The addition of organic or inorganic fibres
increases the strength of concrete. Fibre-rein
forced components are more durable and can
have more slender dimensions than those made
from normal-weight concrete. Aggregates
made from wood reduce the thermal conductiv
ity and increase the specific heat capacity
(fig. B 4.1 6) .
Textiles can accommodate tension stresses
and are not at risk of corrosion. They can be
used to reinforce concrete with a small concrete
cover and hence result in smaller and lighter
concrete components (textile-reinforced con-


Building materials with mineral binders

tension reinforcement and then completed on

site with a concrete topp i n g . Cavity facade
designs can be erected with a facing leaf of
precast concrete panels.

M ineral-bonded components

Mineral-bonded components exhibit high dimen

sional accuracy because their manufacturing
process using steam and pressure at a temper
ature of 1 60-220C minimises their shrinkage
characteristics. They can be produced in vari
ous sizes, densities and compressive strengths,
with or without holes (fi g . B 4.20) .
Lightweight concrete blocks

By using aggregates such as pumice or

expanded clay, concrete works can produce a
wide range of bricks and blocks for internal
and external walls. Such components are char
acterised by a low thermal conductivity.
Aerated concrete blocks

B 4. 1 8

Aerated concrete consists of cement with fine

grain substances such as quartz sand, fly ash
and a blowin g agent. The production in an
autoclave (high pressure plus high tempera
tures of about 200C) is only possible in a con
crete works. The resultin g concrete contains up
to 80% voids, which means a low density cou
pled with good strength , plus good sound insu
lation and fire protection characteristics.
Masonry units and large-format panels for load
bearing and non-load bearing walls can be pro
duced from aerated concrete.
Granulated slag aggregate units

These masonry units are made from granulated

blast-furnace slag plus cement or lime as a
binder. After mou l d i n g they are hardened in
steam or gases containing carbonic acid .
Granulated slag aggregate units exh ibit similar
properties to calcium silicate bricks and blocks
and are used for similar purposes. However,
they have a lower thermal conductivity for the
same density.
As an alternative to concrete blocks, the curing
of which is time-consuming and costly, the
building industry has developed methods in
which mineral binders are cured by steam.
Automatic presses are used to produce, for
example, masonry units, in economic formats
with a high degree of dimensional stability.
B 4 . 1 8 Mineral-bonded boards
a Plasterboard type A
b Flooring-grade board
c Fibrous plasterboard
d Cement fibreboard
B 4 . 1 9 Type designations of gypsum plasterboards:
comparison of EN 520 and D I N 1 8 1 80
B 4.20 Physical parameters of mineral-bonded masonry
B 4.21 Interior design with gypsum plasterboards, office
building, Stockholm, Sweden, 1 997, Claessen
Koivisto Runee
B 4.22 Facade of cement fibreboards, warehouse,
Laufen, Switzerland, 1 991 , Jacques Herzog &
Pierre de Meuron


Calcium silicate units

Calcium silicate is a mixture of lime and sand

that sol idifies upon slaking with water. I nitially,
lime is the binder in the resulting mass, but fur
ther heating in steam causes the lime hydrate
to react with the sand particles to form hydrat
ed calcium silicate. Bricks and blocks made
from this material can be manufactured with
very tight tolerances and achieve a high com
pressive strength. Calcium silicate units are
frost-resistant and suitable for facing masonry
both internally and externally.

Mineral-bonded boards


The rapid curing time of gypsum enables the

cost-effective manufacture of a number of
products, especially large-format boards for
walls, floors and ceilings. Plasterboards are
produced as an endless strip and laminated
with cardboard both sides, which also encloses
the two long edges. The lamination serves as
reinforcement, accommodating tensile forces
and enabl i n g longer spans.
Plasterboards can be worked easily with simple
tools, e.g. sawn, cut, drilled or routed. They can
be fixed to metal or timber frameworks with
screws or nails, to a m ineral substrate by bond
ing with dabs of mortar. The main advantages
of plasterboards are their low weight, good
strength and low thermal conductivity. This
material has a high proportion of macropores,
which help to regulate the interior humidity.
At high humidities they absorb moisture, and
release it again when the air is drier. Further
more, aggregates and fillers influence the
material properties. Untreated plasterboards
are vulnerable to the effects of water. Addition
al protection can be provided by claddings,
coatings or plaster. Plasterboards are also
used as a cladding for fire protection purposes.
The duration of fire resistance depends on the
additives and the thickness.
Types of plasterboard
Gypsum plasterboards are ideal for internal
use on horizontal and vertical surfaces. The
type designations are given in D I N EN 520,
which has replaced D I N 1 8 1 80 (which, how
ever, is stil l valid until August 2006) . Capital
letters indicate the performance features, which
may also be combined. The following examples
are supplemented by fig . B 4 . 1 9:

Type A deSignates standard boards whose

good face forms a backin g for gypsum plas
ter or coatings.
Type F designates boards with a defined fire
resistance; the gypsum core usually contains
mineral fibres.
Type H deSignates boards with a lower water
absorption; these boards can be used in wet
rooms .
Plasterboards c a n be supplied in thicknesses
from 9.5 to 25 mm. For production reasons the
standard width of the boards is 1 250 mm, but
600 mm for boards 25 mm thick. The boards
may measure up to 4000 mm lon g . Plaster
boards must be stamped with EN number,
manufacturer's name, date and type designa
Plasterboards can be further processed in the
works and provided with holes or slots to suit
particular applications.
Gypsum wallboards
Gypsum wall boards consist of gypsum to
which inorganic fillers or fibres can be added.

Building materials with mineral binders

They have smooth, flat surfaces. To i ncrease

their stability they are usually produced with
tongue and groove connections on the edges.
Gypsum wall boards can be used to construct
lightweight, non-Ioadbearing walls (see "Walls" ,
p. 1 56) . The thickness varies between 50 and
1 50 mm. These boards are ideal for fire-resist
ant walls.
Ceiling boards
The (usually) square ceiling boards are avail
able for satisfying fire protection requirements,
for sound insulation and as decorative ele
ments. The numerous perforation patterns
available open up a wide choice of surface and
design options with different acoustic effects.
Composite boards
Boards for floors, walls and cei lings can be
provided with plasterboard surfaces that are
already bonded to an insulating material such
as polystyrene or mineral-fibre sheets. (see
"Floors", p. 1 74 ) .
Fibrous plasterboards

Fibrous plasterboards consist of a mixture of

gypsum and cellulose fibres. The fibres act l ike
reinforcement and increase the strength of the
board. Fibrous plasterboards can be obtained
with larger cross-sections than plasterboards
and in building materials classes A 2 and A 2 to
DIN 4 1 02-1 . Two or three layers of fibrous plas
terboards may be bonded together as an alter
native to a cement screed.
Mineral-bonded particleboards
Mineral-bonded particle boards consist of
approx. 25% by mass wood chips and 65%
organic binders (Portland cement, gypsum,
magnesia) plus additives. To form these
boards the constituents are mixed with water,
spread out and compacted under high pres
sure. Mineral-bonded particle boards are suita
ble for floors, walls and soffits internally or
externally depending on the type of binder

Plasterboards to DIN 1 81 80
(valid until August 2006)

Plasterboards to DIN EN 520


type A

Plasterboard with defined density

type 0



Plasterboard for cladding

type E

Plasterboard with improved microstructure

bonding of core at high temperatures

type F


Fire-resistant plasterboard
Fire-resistant plasterboard, impregnated


Plasterboard, impregnated


Plasterboard for plaster background

Plasterboard with reduced water absorption

type H

Plasterboard with enhanced surface hardness

type I

Board for plaster background

type P

Plasterboard with enhanced strength

type R
B 4. 1 9

Type of
masonry unit


Density classes
[kg / dm"J

Compressive strength
classes available
[N / mm']

Calcium silicate

solid (high-precision)
perforated and hollow (high-precision)
tongue and groove system
fair faced brick
veneer brick

KS, KS (P)
KS-R, KS-R (P) ,
KS L-R, KS L-R (P)

1 .6-2 .2
0.6-1 .6
0.6-1 .6


1 .0-2.2
1 .0-2 .2

1 2-60

Aerated concrete

0.35- 1 .0


V, Vbl, Vbl S

0.5-1 .4

2-1 2
2-1 2

Vbn, Vn
Vm, Vmb

1 . 4-2. 4
1 .6-2.4

2-1 2


1 .6-2.0
1 .2-1 .6
1 .0-1 .6

1 2-28

standard, high-precision


panel, high-precision panel

Ppl, PPpl

Lightweight concrete

hollow panel
solid, solid with slits
solid with slits and special thermal
insulation properties

Granulated blast-furnace slag


Cement fibreboards

Cement fibreboards are produced from syn

thetic and cellulose fibres, cement and water
(figs B 4. 1 8 d and B 4.22 ) . They are weather
proof, impervious to water and incombusti ble.
They are available i n thicknesses from 8 to
20 mm and in sizes up to max. 1 500 x
3100 m m .

B 4.20

Perlite wallboards

Perlite wallboards have a core of cement-bond

ed l ightweight perlite aggregate. A glass cloth
plus a layer of cement on each side protect the
approx. 1 1 mm thick core. These incombustible
(building materials class A 1 ) , extremely robust
boards are suitable for use as a render back
ground on facades.

B 4.22

Bitu m i nous materials

B 5. 1

Organic sediments on the seabed and the

associated carbon enrichment formed the
basis for the formation of deposits of petrole
um, natural asphalt and bitumen. High temper
atures and pressures over m i l l ions of years
transformed these substances into petroleum.
I n natural deposits bitumen frequently occurs
together with fine mineral inclusions in the form
of natural asphalt.
In the period around 3000 BC bitumen was
used in Mesopotamia instead of loam as a mor
tar for masonry. In road building asphalt was
used in conjunction with clay bricks in ancient
times to form highways. The Hanging Gardens
of Babylon were waterproofed with layers of
natural asphalt tiles, clay bricks and mortar (fi g .
B 5 . 4 ) . This style of rooftop garden was popular
around the Mediterranean at the time of the
Renaissance, and these gardens req u i red bitu
men to seal them.

Pure bitumen is worked at temperatures of 1 50220C. After cooling, the bitumen fulfi ls its func
tion immediately, e . g . as a seal or an adhesive.
When cold, bitumen can only be used in a
solution or dispersion:

Commercially produced bitumen and

(hard paving-grade bitumen) , the residue left

behind when further su bstances are volatised
from straight-run bitumen by heating in a
vacuum with the simultneous addition of steam.
Blown bitumen is produced by blowing air
and oils into molten straight-run bitumen; it
exhibits greater elasticity.

A bitumen solution is made up of bitumen

plus a petroleum disti llate (e.g. petrol), which
undergo a curing process.
A bitumen emulsion consists of a mixture of
bitumen, water and an emulsifying agent; the
emulsion dries slowly as the water evapo
Fillers are added to solutions and dispersions
to form fi l l i n g compounds.

bitumen products



5 . 1 Liquid bitumen
5.2 Systematic classification of bituminous binders
5.3 Physical properties of bitumen
5.4 The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the first
structures waterproofed with bitumen, 562 BC
B 5.5 Flat roofs as an expression of technical progress,
Weissenhof Estate, Stuttgart, Germany, 1 927,
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe


The spread of the flat roof across Central

Europe d uring the 1 9th century was encour
aged by the invention of reinforced concrete
and the development of framed buildings,
which permitted large spans and flat roofs
capable of carrying heavy loads. However, the
at best only very shallow roof pitches meant
that such roofs had to be sealed against the
ingress of rainwater. This was achieved with a
combination of bitumen and layers of paper on
pressed cork boards. By the middle of the 1 9th
century the industrial refining of petroleum had
covered the increased demand for bitumen. I n
order to obtain paraffin for lamps, refineries
were establ ished, initially in America, in which
petroleum was broken down through d istillation
into its components with their different boiling
points. One non-distil lable residue was bitu
men, which today is sti l l obtained in the same
way. We d istinguish between the following
types of bitumen:
Straight-run bitumen (soft bitumen)
represents the non-vapourising residue.
. Various grades of vacuum asphaltic bitumen

Bitumen consists of d ifferent mixtures of vari

ous hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon derivatives
depending on the geographical location of the
petroleum deposit from which it is obtained.
Nevertheless, the useful properties are almost
identical. They depend on the so-called colloi
dal system - the q uantitative composition of
malthenes (dispersion agent and soluble, melt
able petroleum resins) and asphaltenes (insolu
ble, non-meltable constituents). This results in
the physical properties so typical of bitumen : a
rise in temperature makes bitumen gradually
softer, but the process is reversible and similar
to that of a thermoplastic material. Bitumen
exhi b its viscoelastic properties that range from
elastic deformation to fluid ity depending on the
temperature. Polymers mixed into straight-run
bitumen can i nfluence these properties (poly
mer-modified bitumen, PmB) .
Bitumen has the function of a b inder. When hot
and runny it wets fibres, metals and mineral
materials very well and bonds them together
after cooli n g . However, the action of oxygen i n
the a i r a n d ultraviolet rad iation can make bitu-

Bituminous materials

Bituminous binders

Bitumen in natural asphalt

Tar and binders containing tar

Bitumen and derivatives

Rapid-curing cutback

Special bitumen

Fluxed bitumen

Cationic bitumen
bitumen emulsion
B 5.2

men brittle on the surface and impair its adhe

sive qual ities. Bitumen products should there
fore be protected agai nst ultraviolet radiation
by covering them in some way (e. g . chippings
on flat roofs) .
At room temperature bitumen exhi b its a high
resistance to salts, weak acids and also strong
alkalis. The d istillation of petroleum represents
a physical method of production. Bitumen is
non-hazardous in b iological terms and can also
be used as a sealant in drinking water appl ica
tions. Depending on its degree of purity, it can
also be reprocessed and recycled.
Bitumen should not be confused with pitch or
tar, which have a similar appearance. Tar is
obtained through the thermal cracking of coal a chemical process. These pyrolysis products
contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
(PAH) , and as these are carcinogenic, prod
ucts made from pitch or tar are hardly ever
used these days.


Paving-grade bitumen

Bitumen for use in asphalt for roadbuilding rep

resents the largest market for bitumen. Various
grades of straight-run bitumen are suitable as a
b inder for minerals. The minerals used can be
natural (e. g . gravel, chippings, bal last, san d ) ,
man-made ( e . g . slag ) , o r mineral products
obtained from recycl i n g processes; their con
tent is about 95% by weight. The asphalt
required for surfaces to roads, landing strips,
cycle tracks, etc. is produced in stationary mix
ing plants. It has to satisfy high quality stand
ards in terms of affinity to the binder, weather
resistance, shock resistance and compressive
strength as well as resistance to the effects of
heat. The mixing grades for the asphalt are
d ivided into two different types depending on
the void content of the finished layer, distin
guished accord ing to their mechanical and
working properties: rolled asphalt with a no
fines porosity (which must be compacted after











990-1 1 00

0.1 5-0. 1 7

1 .7-1 .9


< 0. 1 %

approx. 1 00 000

laying), and mastic asphalt with a binder con

tent greater than that of the voids. Roads usual
ly comprise three layers: base, binder and sur
facing. The uppermost layer can be coloured
by adding inorganic pigments such as iron
oxide (red) or chromium oxide (green) to indi
cate traffic lanes.

Industrial bitumen

I ndustrial b itumen is the term used for the

blown bitumen and solid bitumen used in build

The plasticity range can be adjusted by select

ing a suitable grade of bitumen (fig . B 5.8) , and
this makes bitumen ideal for protecting bu ild
ings and structures thanks to the good bonding
and adhesive properties and impermeability
with respect to water vapour d iffusion. Depend
ing on the type of construction to be sealed
against i n g ress of water, we d isti nguish
between roof and tunnel waterproofing , sealing
of rigid or movable joints, and the sealing of
tanks, basements or swimming pools.
The following bituminous materials are used in
building works:
Sealing materials
bitumen sheeting (with fleece)
flexible polymer-modified bitumen sheeting


Roof coverings
bitumen sheetin g (with fleece)
corrugated bitumen sheeting
asphalt shing les and tiles

Protective products
undercoat (applied cold)
topcoat (applied hot)
adhesive compounds (applied hot)
filling compounds (applied hot/cold)

mastic asphalt
mastic asphalt flooring
asphalt tiles/blocks

B 5. 4

Bituminous materials

Flexible bitumen sheeting

made from blown bitumen

Bitumen roofing felt with

glass fleece base

Bitumen sheeting for

waterproofing of roofs

made from polymer-modified bitumen

Bitumen waterproof sheet

ing for felt torching

R 500
(uncoated felt 500 g/m2)

G 200 DD
(glass cloth 200 g/m2)

V 50 8 4
(glass fleece 50 g/m2)

V 13
(glass fleece 50 g/m2)

PV 200 DD
(polyester fleece
200 g/m2)

G 200 8 4
(glass cloth 200 g/m2)

Polymer-modified bitumen waterproof sheeting

for felt torching


G 200 8 5
(glass cloth 200 g/m2)
PV 200 8 5
(polyester fleece
200 g/m2)

bituminised felt
bituminised cork felt

jointing compounds

Flexible waterproof sheeting made from


Flexible waterproof sheeting made from bitumen

is used for sealing structures and roofs (fig. B 5.6).
Such products are intended to protect struc
tures or components against the in- g ress of
water and aqueous solutions. The water in
these cases occurs in various forms and has
different effects, which are explained in
DIN 1 8 1 95 (see "Insulating and sealing", p. 1 44).

PYE-G 200 DD
(glass cloth 200 g /m2)

PYE-G 200 8 4
(glass cloth 200 g /m2)

PYP-G 200 8 4
(glass cloth 200 g/m2)

(polyester fleece 200 g/m2)

PYE-G 200 8 5
(glass cloth 200 g/m2)

PYP-G 200 8 5
(glass cloth 200 g/m2)

PYE-PV 200 8 5
(polyester fleece
200 g/m2)

PYP-PV 200 8 5
(polyester fleece
200 g /m2)

Appropriate i nlays determine the mechanical

properties such as strength, extensibil ity and
tear resistance. G lass fleece (code letter V) is
su itable for low loads, but glass cloth (G) and
polyester fleece (PV) are used for h igher loads,
less often jute (J) or uncoated felt (R).
Metal foil (e.g. copper, aluminium) is used as
an i nlay to create a vapour barrier, to prevent
root penetration and also below loose soi l .
Q uartz sand o r slate granules provide some
protection for the flexible sheeting, talcum pow
der and thin separating layers of polyethylene
or polypropylene film ease the rolling/unrolling
and working of the sheeting.
Flexible sheeting made from blown bitumen
has a lower resistance to ultraviolet radiation
and therefore req u i res additional protection,
e . g . in the form of a layer of loose gravel on flat

Flexible bitumen sheeting

Flexible bitumen sheeting consists of a backing

layer (base) that is soaked in straig ht-run bitu
men and coated both sides with a facing layer
of blown bitumen. The two facing layers are
responsible for the waterproofing effect and
durability of the flexible sheeting.

B 5.7

Flexible polymer-modified bitumen sheeting

In this type of flexible sheeting the facing layers

and the bitumen in which the base and inlays
are soaked consist of straight-run b itumen to
which a thermoplastic or elastomeric material
has been added (fi g . B 5 . 7 ) .
Both the thermoplastic a n d the elastomeric
modification of bitumen results in a flexible
sheeting with high thermal stability, good cold
working properties and better ageing resist
ance. The guidelines for flat roof construction
do not call for a heavyweight surface protection
in the form of gravel.
The bitumen used for flexible polymer-modified
bitumen sheeting is modified with a thermo
plastic elastomer (styrene-butadiene-styrene,
SBS) and has the code PYE. It req u i res protec
tion against u ltraviolet radiation in the form of
The bitumen in polymer-modified bitumen built
up felt can also be modified with a thermoplas
tic material (atactic polypropylene, aPP) - code
PYP. Chippings to protect against ultraviolet

B 5.5

radiation are not required for this type of flexi

ble sheeting.

As two or more layers are employed, flexible

bitumen sheetin g is regarded as more resistant
to mechanical loads than flexible sheeting
made from synthetic materials. However, flexi
ble bitumen sheeting requires more care and
work at junctions and details because no pre
formed components are available for corners,
penetrations and similar details. Ponding on
roofs and the associated accumulation of dust
and d i rt which can reduce the durabil ity of
bituminous flexible sheeting should be avoided
by ensurin g a minimum roof pitch of 2.
Types of flexible sheeting

In Germany the d ifferent types of flexible

sheeting are distinguished by codes, e.g. PYE
PV 200 S 5, whose meaning is as follows:

type of bitumen used (polymer-modified bitu

men only) , e . g . PYE
type of base with weight in g/m 2 , e . g . PV 200,
and in the case of metal inlays the thickness
is specified as well
type of sheeting and thickness in mm,
e.g. S 5

Flexible bitumen sheetin g is used for water

proofing structures and roofs. The D I N stand
ards define the following types according to

D I N 52 1 29 Uncoated bitumen-saturated
sheeting: R 500 N
D I N 52 1 43 Bitumen roofing felt with g lass
fleece base: R 500, V 1 3
D I N 52 1 30 Bitumen sheeting for waterproof
ing of roofs: G 200 DD,
PV 200 DD

Bituminous materials

Bitumen grade

[1 / 1 0 mm]

R.a.B. softening point 2


breaking point 3

55 - 7 1



1 00
1 35





Straight-run bitumen

8220 - 8 1 60
8 1 00 - B70
870- 850
845- 830
B20- 830
825 - 8 1 5
820 - 8 1 0

220-1 60
1 00 - 70
25-1 5
20- 1 0


Blown bitumen

1 00/25
1 35 / 1 0
Polymer-modified bitumen

B 5.6 Systematic classification of flexible bitumen

B 5.7 Flexible polymer-modified bitumen sheeting on a
substrate coated with bitumen u ndercoat
B 5.8 Physical properties of various bitumen grades
B 5.9 8itumen u ndercoat as waterproofing to a structure
B 5.10 Jointing compound between paving stones

Pm8 65 A
Pm8 65 C


The needle penetration test measures how far a 1 00 g needle penetrates the bitumen (heated to 25C) in 5 s.
The determination of the softening point with ring and ball (R.a.B. method) uses a brass ring filled with bitumen that is
loaded with a steel ball and heated in a water or glycerine bath. The softening point is reached when the bitumen has
sagged 25.4 mm under the weight of the ball.
3 A layer of bitumen spread evenly on a sheet metal plate is deflected in a defined way. The Fraass breaking point is
the temperature at which the layer of bitumen fractures or cracks during bending.

B 5.8

D I N 52 1 31 Bitumen waterproof sheeting for

felt torching: V 60 S 4, G 200 S 4,
PV 200 S 5
D I N 52 1 32 Polymer-modified bitumen sheet
ing for waterproofing of roofs:
PYE-G 200 DD, PYE-PV 200 D D
D I N 52 1 33 Polymer-modified bitumen water
proof sheeting for felt torc h i n g :
PYE-G 200 S 4, PYE-G 200 S 5 ,
PYE-PV 200 S 5, PYP-G 200 S 4 ,
PYP-G 200 S 5 , PYP-PV 200 S 5
DIN 1 8 1 90 Waterproof sheeting for the water
proofing of buildings:
Cu O , 1 D , AI 0,2 D
D I N 1 8 1 95-2 Cold-applied self-adhesive
sheetin g : KSK

Cold-applied self-adhesive flexible bitumen

sheeting has a coating of adhesive on its
underside so that it can be laid without the
need for any heat (e.g. for supportin g construc
tions sensitive to heat or on steep pitches) .

Further applications for bitumen

Mastic asphalt

Compared with asphalt for roadbuilding, mastic

asphalt has a h igher binder content of sol id
bitumen and m inerals with smaller particle
sizes. Other materials can be added to modify
the properties to suit different applications. Nat
ural asphalt is frequently added to the bitumen
obtained from the refinery, which increases the
homogeneity, compactibi lity, deformation
resistance and ageing resistance of the mastic
asphalt; indeed, the b itumen can be replaced
entirely by natural asphalt. As mastic asphalt is
free from voids, watertight, resistant to many
alkalis and acids and can be laid without joints,
it is ideal as a form of waterproofin g , e . g . for
wet rooms, for market halls, as protection
against substances vulnerable to water, or on
monolithic, uninsulated structures.

Bitumen solutions, bitumen emulsions

As undercoats, bitumen solutions and emul

sions can form the bond between the substrate
and flexible bitumen sheeting or insulating
materials (fi g . B 5.9) . They form an anchorage
in the m ineral substrate and bind any dust on
this. Solutions and emulsions are appl ied cold .
A s solvents have a low boiling point a n d are
therefore volatile and can escape i nto the
atmosphere d uring application, it is preferable
to use a solvent-free bitumen emulsion or solu
Jointing compounds

Hot-applied jointing compounds consist of

bitumen to which synthetic materials, softeners
and m ineral fillers have been added. Joints in
concrete, asphalt and paving can be filled with
the jointing compound with its elastic or plastic
variability (fig . B 5 . 1 0) . Such jointing com
pounds prevent foreign matter collecting in the
joints which m ight impair the movement of the


Flexible bitumen and polymer-modified bitu

men sheeting is always used in two layers. The
first of these can be bonded over the full area
or just partially (spot- or strip-bonding) or fixed
mechanically, but can even be laid loose. The
second layer must be bonded to the first over
the full area and with the joints/seams offset.
An exception is horizontal waterproofin g in the
case of non-hydrostatic pressure, e . g . rising
damp, because in this case just one layer of
uncoated bitumen-saturated sheeting i s ade
quate. For details of laying methods and
parameters in comparison to flexible sheetin g
made from synthetic materials a n d rubber see
"The building envelope", p. 1 25-27.


Wood and
wood-based products

B 6. 1

Wood is readily available throughout the world

and can be easily worked with simple tools. It
has been used for buildings, everyday objects
and furniture since the dawn of civil isation.
The use of worked tree trunks in sunken-floor
dwellings dating from about 20 000 BC has
been proved. The embedded posts at the
ends of a roughly 2 x 4 m p it supported the
ridge to a couple roof which extended down to
the grou n d . In the heavily forested reg ions of
Europe, where softwoods grew uniformly, the
log construction techniques (fig. B 6.3) stil l
used today first appeared around 9000 BC.
The spread of settlements to regions with
fewer forests led to a more economical form of
timber construction - the timber frame.
Recognition of the need to protect timber
against damage and decay had been taken
into account by the Romans, whose perma
nent timber structures were provided with a
stone p l i nth. However, this solution was not
familiar to all builders. For example, in the
Middle Ages the timber houses of Danzi g
(now Gdansk) h a d t o be rebuilt every 20-25
years because the timber in contact with the
damp ground began to rot.
On the other hand, the stave churches of Nor
way dating from the 1 1 th to 1 3th centuries
i l lustrate the durability of timber structures pro
tected by careful detail i n g (fi g . B 6.2).
Compared to structures of stone, the ind ividual
components of a timber building require antici
patory planning in order to join the individual

parts into a stable overall assembly by means

of suitable joints. This is probably one of the
reasons why carpenters' guilds were held in
such high esteem well into the 1 9th century.
I mpressive feats of carpentry such as the oak
hammer-beam roof to Westminster Hall (fig.
B 6.6) bear witness to their great skills.

Growing marginalisation caused by the new

building materials steel and concrete led to
efforts to rationalise the production processes
and to the development of new forms of timber
construction (e.g. platform frame and panel
construction) .
During the 1 940s Konrad Wachsmann and
Waiter Gropius developed the "General Panel
System" in America. This system was based on
a mod ular arrangement so that walls, floors and
roofs could always be assembled in the same
way. It was this innovation that made it possible
for five unskilled operatives to erect a house ready for its occupants - within just nine hours!
Despite a declining market share, timber can
still be used for building thanks to the appear
ance of efficient wood-based products and
advancements in structural engineering
(fi g . B 6 . 7 ) . And since the mid-1 980s various
types of timber claddings have enjoyed a
comeback, regardless of the material used for
the load bearing structure. The Austrian pro
vince of Vorarlberg has taken on a pioneering
role in contemporary timber architecture - more

B 6.1 Trabocco - vernacular architecture for catching

fish, Fossacesia, Italy
B 6.2 Stave church, Heddal, Norway, 1 2th century
B 6.3 Dairy farm at the foot of the Matterhorn, Wall is,
B 6.4 The structure of a tree trunk
B 6.5 Deformation of solid timber sections depending on
their position with respect to the growth rings
B 6.6 Westminster Hal l , London, UK, 1 399
B 6.7 Ice rink, Munich, Germany, 1 984,
Ackermann + Partner
B 6.8 Insurance building, Munich, Germany, 2002,
Baumschlager & Eberle
B 6.2

B 6.3

Wood and wood-based products

Growth ring----P-
Cambium----I-- I
Sapwood-----t---- t
Heartwood----J-H-- tHtl

than 20% of all new buildings in that region are

built of timber.

W'7-)-1---l-\-+--Ic+-'t-+-'bl---- Pith

1---- 8ark
H---- Early wood
tt+-1+--- Late wood

8 6.4

Wood as a building material

Every tree is an individual organism with specif

ic characteristics. No two pieces of wood are
identical. Various criteria influence q uality,
appearance and potential applications:

species of tree
location, macrocl imate, microclimate
age of tree
location within the tree structure (trunk,
branch, root, heartwood , sapwood)

Biological structure of wood

More than 30 000 species of wood are known

worldwide, and about 500 of these are availa
ble through the international timber trade. The
spectrum of tree species stretches from the
eucalyptus of Australia, which reaches a height
of 1 35 m, the cypresses with their 1 2 m trunk
diameter, to the bristlecone pines of the USA,
some of which are 5000 years old. By compari
son, only a tiny fraction of the species available
are used for building in Central Europe; figs B
6.9 and 6 . 1 0 show the most common types.
The most important material properties are:

good l ife cycle assessment

anisotropy (dependency of most timber
properties on d irection of growth)
hygroscopy (moisture content is determined
by ambient climate)
Iow thermal conductivity coupled with good
heat storage ability
high strength coupled with low weight ( Ioad
carrying abil ity)
multitude of timber species with different
appearances (colour, texture, odour)
large range of wood and wood-based prod
ucts available with highly developed methods
of working

regenerative raw material

carbon dioxide storehouse (reduction in CO

8 6.6

The fundamental b u i l d i n g blocks of wood are

the cells - wood fibres. It is the job of the cells
to transport nutrients, convey water and lend
stability to the wood. The majority of cells have
an elongated form and lie for the most part par
allel with the trunk. The rays - running rad ially
within the trunk - represent the exception; the
rays store organic nutrients (fig . B 6.4) .
In terms of evolution, softwoods are older and
have a simpler structure, consisting primarily of
one type of cell (trache i d ) . Gymnosperm con
tain more special ised cells with specific tasks.
The vessels convey the nutrients and the wood
fibres form the load bearing framework for the
deciduous Ang iosporm tree.
Fig. B 6.4 shows the typical structure of a tree
trunk. The cross-section through the trunk in

8 6.7

8 6.5

the majority of trees is as follows (from i nside

to outside) : The central p ith is responsible for
convey i n g water and storing nutrients in the
young shoot, and this part of the trunk dies at
a relatively early stage of the tree's growth. I n
regions with distinct seasons, the adjoining
g rowth rings map the growth of the tree in
each year. Every g rowth ring consists of the
light-coloured, large-pore early wood (which
develops d uring the spring for transporting
nutrients) and the dark, denser late wood
(which determines the strength of the wood) .
The cambium i s responsible for the increase
in thickness. It generates wood cells on the
inside and the phloem (inner bark) on the out
side. The p h loem cells form the inner, living
part of the bark, which is enclosed by the
dead layers of the outer bark. The bark pro
tects the trunk against drying out and
mechan ical damage.
Sap wood, heartwood and ripewood species
We d ivide timber i nto sapwood, heartwood
and ripewood species according to the d iffer
ent colouration of the cross-section through
the trunk.
In heartwood species there is a d istinct d iffer
ence between the colour of the heavy and
hard core comprising dead wood cells, which
no longer provide any transport functions,
and the colour of the sapwood. The wood
substances stored in the heartwood (e.g. tan
ning agents and pigments) provide defence

8 6.8

Wood and wood-based products

against fung i and insects that feed on wood.

Owing to its natural durability, the use of
heartwood obviates the need for chemical
preservatives. This group includes oak, Scots
pine, chestnut and larch.
The ripewood species have, l i ke sapwood, a
light-coloured core and do not exh i b it any
differences in colour over the trunk cross-sec
tion . However, the core is considera b ly drier
and its properties tend to resemble those of
the heartwood species. The ripewood spe
cies include beech, spruce, fir and lime.

ness or suitabil ity for impregnation can be

derived from this. The density is determi ned
taking i nto account the moisture content (mass
and vol ume changes due to swel l i n g and
shrinkage) plus the position of the wood within
the trunk.
The mean density for softwoods used for load
bearing purposes l ies between 450 and
600 kg 1m3. However, this can reach 700 kg / m3
among some European hardwoods and even
1 000 kg / m3 for hardwoods imported from over

A substance is designated anisotropic (Greek:
anisos unequal + tropos turn) when its
properties vary with direction. G lass and metal,
for example, are isotropic - they exhibit the
same properties in all directions. The ani sot
ropy of wood is due to the wood fibres that
run parallel to the direction of g rowth of trunk
and branches, and is revealed in the various
sections through the wood (transverse, radial
and tangential) (fi g . B 6.4) . For example, the
swelling and shrinkage of spruce in the tan
gential d i rection is more than 25 times greater
than that in the longitudinal d i rection . The
permissible stresses are also considerably
influenced by the grain direction. For exam
ple, spruce can accommodate tensile stress
es of up to 1 0 N / m m2 parallel to the grain , but
perpendicular to the grain only 0.04 N / m m2
(see DIN 1 052) .

Moisture content
Wood can absorb a considerable quantity of
water within its cellular structure . The moisture
content (Um) in the living tree can reach 70% by
mass. Among the species of wood that are
used for building, the fibre saturation point is
reached at Um 30-35%. Above this figure, the
cell cavities fi l l with so-called free moisture, but
there are practically no more changes in the
form d ue to swelling and shrinkage. The mean
moisture content of the wood is usually meas
ured with an electric moisture content instru
ment. The moisture content is expressed as a
mass-based percentage of the water in the
wood related to the mass of the wood in the
oven-dry condition .
According to the new edition of D I N 4074, the
moisture content of timber to be i ncorporated i n
a building should not exceed 20%. For timber
housebuilding the limit is 1 8% , and in g lued
components 1 5% .
However, t h e absorption o f water takes place
not only in liquid form. Due to its hygroscopic
nature, wood exchanges moisture with the sur
rounding air. The so-called equilibrium mois
ture content is established in timber in use as

Chemical composition

The main chemical constituents of wood are:

40-50% cellulose
20-30% hemicellulose
20-30% lignin
up to 1 0% other substances and ash

Physical properties

The special physical properties of wood ena

ble it to be used for a whole range of applica
tions in the construction industry. However,
the proper use of wood presupposes a knowl
edge about its specific characteristics, suita
ble species and forms of construction.
This is understood to be the ratio of the mass
to the volume i nc l uding all voids (see "Physi
cal parameters of mateials", p. 264 ) . Density
is one of the most important physical para
meters of wood because fundamental tech
nological properties such as strength, hard-


decreasing moisture content

decreasing temperature
decreasing grain-load angle
i ncreasing density

With an annual increase of about 7 b i l l ion

tonnes, cellulose is the most prolific natural
substance on the p lanet. It g uarantees the
tensile strength of the wood . Hemicellulose
acts as a filler and cement that improves the
compressive strength. In contrast to cellulose,
lignin is inflexible; it provides the cell walls
with the necessary rigidity and compressive

depend on the respective species, the g rowth

parameters (density, width of growth rings, pro
portion of knots), the moisture content, the
duration of the load action and the angle
between applied load and d i rection of grain .
Owing to its anisotropic characteristics, timber
parallel to the grain exhibits good structural
properties. When subjected to tension, timber
generally exhi b its a brittle behaviour, but com
pressive or flexural stresses usually cause
plastic deformations prior to failure. The tensile
strength is roughly twice the compressive
strength. Generally, the strength of timber
increases under the following conditions:

heated structures enclosed on all sides

9 3%
unheated structures enclosed on all sides
1 2 3%
roofed structures open on all sides 1 5 3%
constructions exposed to the weather on all
sides 1 8 6%

Wood's ability to absorb and release moisture

can make a major contribution to improvin g the
interior climate. However, the swel l i n g and
shrinkage leads to d imensional fluctuations.
Fig. B 6.5 shows the deformations of solid tim
ber sections depending on their position rela
tive to the growth rings and their original loca
tion within the cross-section. As far as possi ble,
timber components should be incorporated i n a
structure with the moisture content to be
expected in the final condition long-term. This
is a prime req u i rement if chemical preserva
tives are to be avoided.
The strength of a building material is defined as
its resistance to fai lure. Timber exhibits a wide
range of elastomechanical properties that

A high proportion of knots d isrupts the grain

and results in a lower strength. I ndeed, in very
knotty Scots p ine the tensile strength can be
reduced by up to 85% . The structural proper
ties also decrease over time in the case of high
long-term loads. For example, the bending
strength of spruce subjected to a permanent
load is only approx. 60% of its short-term
strength. As wood exhibits individual character
istics that experience severe fluctuations, the
permissible strength values are set very low for
safety reasons. In the end this leads to distinct
ly oversized cross-sections. The individual
load-carrying capacity of a timber member can
be determined these days using non-destruc
tive techniques (see p. 70) , which results in
considerably more slender components.
Thermal properties
The porosity of wood gives it good thermal
insulation properties plus pleasant surface tem
peratures. The thermal conductivity of softwood
is about 0 . 1 3 W/mK, that of hardwood about
0.20 W/mK. The thermal conductivity depends
on d i rection of grain, density and moisture con
tent; parallel to the grain it is about twice that
perpendicular to the grain. The good specific
heat storage capacity of wood ( 1 .67 kJ/kgK for
a moisture content of 1 5%) can help to improve
the interior c l imate.
Compared to many other building materials,
the coefficient of thermal expansion is extreme
ly low. According to D I N 1 052 it is therefore not
usually necessary to check changes in length
due to temperature fluctuations.

Wood and wood-based products

Species of wood

There exists an enormous diversity of species

and each has its own specific serviceabi l ity
features, appearance and potential appl ica
tions. Aesthetic considerations and preserva
tion aspects must be harmonised when choos
ing a type of wood.
Fig. B 6. 1 1 l ists the properties and features of
the timbers used in building. Owing to their
faster growth , softwoods are usually more cost
effective than hardwoods. In recent years more
and more softwoods imported from abroad
have been used for build i n g . Their advantages
over European species are that they are
straighter and longer, less vulnerable to rot and
have fewer knots. Non-European hardwoods
are employed for specific purposes internally
and externally, or as exotic, attractive veneers.
However, the energy required for their transport
considerably worsens their l ife cycle assess

Tree-felling and the processing of structural

solid timber products

Felling trees in winter is advantageous owing to

the lower external temperatures, which limits
the number of pests, and the reduced risk to
the wood outside the sap period. However, the
increasing demand for timber means that the
winter felling very common in the past is some
times no longer adequate these days. Depend
ing on the stock of trees, fast-growing soft
woods, e . g . spruce and fir, are ready for fel l i n g
after 60-1 20 years, oak a n d beech after about
80-1 40 years.

Conversion and drying

Various types of conversion - depending on

the later use of the wood - are employed to
obtain sawn timber from the cross-section of
the tree trunk (fig . B 6. 1 3) :

One-piece conversion
The complete retention of the heart (i.e. pith)
results in a high risk of crackin g during dry
ing, and such timber is recommended for low
grade applications only.

B 6.9 Softwoods (abbreviations to D I N 4076)

a Douglas fir (DGA)
b Spruce (FI)
c Scots pine (KI)
d European larch (LA)
e Pine (PIP)
f Fir (TA)
9 Western hemlock (HEM)
h Western red cedar (RCW)
B 6. 10 Hardwoods (abbreviations to D I N 4076)
a Maple (AH)
b Ekki (azobe) (AZO)
c Beech (European beech) (BU)
d Oak (El)
e Dark red meranti (MER)
f Merbau (MEB)
9 Robinia (ROB)
h Teak (TEK)

8 6. 1 0

Wood and wood-based products


Density 1

to grain

to grain

conductivity 2


index 3







51 0-580
51 0-550
51 0-690

4 1 -58

1 04
1 07
1 05

0.09-0 . 1 2
0 . 1 2-0. 1 4
0 . 1 1 -0. 1 3
0 . 1 0-0. 1 3


61 0-660
1 020-1 1 20
81 0-900

5 1 -65

1 50-2 1 5
1 35
1 20-165
1 40
1 20-148

0. 1 5
0.1 5-0. 1 7
0. 1 3-0.21
0.1 6-0. 1 8

DIN 4076

Swelling and
[% per 1 %
change in
moisture ct.]

of heartwood to

of heartwood to

Swelling and
[% per 1 %
change in
moisture ct.]

[class 1 -5]

[class 1 -5]

560-6 1 0
700-81 0
470-5 1 0


0.1 5-0. 1 9
0.1 6-0. 1 9
0.1 6-0. 1 9
0 . 1 2-0. 1 6
0.1 1 -0. 1 3




1 330-1460
9 1 0-1 030
1 050-1 1 70
770-9 1 0

1 40

0 . 1 0-0.20
0.1 9-0.22
0.1 8-0.22
0. 1 4-0. 1 8
0. 1 3
0.1 7-0.24
0.1 3-0. 1 5





Douglas fir
Scots pine
European larch
Western hemlock
Western red cedar

Ekki (azobe)
Beech (European)
Dark red meranti


1 The

figures here are valid for a mean moisture content of 1 5%.

Values for structural timber to EN 1 2524: density 500 kg/m3 0. 1 3; 700 kg/m3 = 0.20; intermediate values may be interpolated.
3 Owing to the numerous dependencies, ARGE Holz (German Timber Organisation) recommends assuming a simplified guide value of 40 for the species of wood given here;
EN 1 2524 prescribes the following for structural timber depending on the density: 500 kg/m3 = 20/50; 700 kg/m3 = 50/200.

B 6. 1 1

. Two-piece spl it-heart conversion

This form of conversion reduces the risk of
cracking, distortion and twisting.
Two- and four-piece conversion, without heart
For pieces of timber that must satisfy higher
standards of appearance, the heart plank is
removed to reduce the risk of cracking even

board req u i res about 1 6 hours to lower the

moisture content from 30 to 8%.
Grading, surface finishing a n d gluing

Even today, some sawn timber and round tim

ber sections are allowed to dry in the open air.
Depending on the time of year and the prevail
ing climate, 25 mm spruce boards can take
about 60-200 days and the same boards in
oak 1 00-300 days to reach a mean moisture
content of 20% .
The kiln-drying of higher-grade solid timber
products takes place under controlled climatic
conditions in closed chambers. At a drying
temperature of up to 90C, a 30 mm spruce

The growing conditions and the local c l imate

lead to great d ifferences in the structure of
wood which are revealed in its properties and
its appearance. Strength g rading is prescribed
for load bearing and bracing timber members.
We distinguish between visual and machine
grading. Visual strength grading is based on
the external features (e. g . knots, width of growth
rings), which permit a conclusion to be reached
on the basis of the D I N 4074-1 classification . I n
mac h i ne strength g rading the measurement of
certain material properties (e.g. modulus of
elasticity, density, moisture content) enables
higher grading classes to be achieved.
Furthermore, there are various criteria for grad
ing timber according to its aesthetic impres-


sion. This assessment i s based o n other fea

tures to those important for strength grading
and can be used for non-load bearing members
as wel l as an add itional criterion for structural
timber. The grad ing required by the authorities
is therefore compulsory.
As a rule, squared sections, boards and planks
are supplied and assembled in the rough-sawn
condition. In the case of exposed timber mem
bers, planed surfaces or special edge work
(sharp edge, chamfered) must be contractually
agreed beforehand.
The gluing of loadbearing sol id timber products
(figs B 6. 1 2 c to f) can only be carried out with
approved adhesives. Urea-formaldehyde, mod
ified melamine and phenol-resorcinol resins all
contain formaldehyde, but the concentrations
lie wel l below permissible limits for this sub-

B 6.12

Wood and wood-based products

stance owing to the very small proportion of

joints in solid timber products. Adhesives made
from polyurethane are free from formaldehyde.
The preferred method of achieving structural
longitudinal spl ices these days is to use finger
joints. Wedge-shaped incisions are made in the
end grain of the solid sections to be joined and
the pieces are pressed together after spread
ing adhesive on the joint faces.
In glued laminated timber (glulam) the adhesive
is spread over the surface of the timber. The
use of transparent adhesives and joint thick
nesses of approx. 0.1 mm result in the i nd ividu
al laminations of g lulam products being hard ly

Lightning and frost shakes, which occur on the

living tree, are not permitted in timber for load
bearing purposes. By contrast, D I N 4074
expressly permits shrinkage splits that occur
during the drying phase. The conversion of the
timber, the careful drying and the adaptation
of the moisture content during assembly to the
climate of the location of use can reduce the
likelihood of fissures. However, fissures can
never be completely ruled out even with a care
ful choice of material and correct workmanship.

Wood a n d wood-based products

The industrialisation of the woodworking indus

try led to the development of many new solid
timber products and wood-based products.
A selection of the most common solid timber
products together with details of their signifi
cant features is g iven below.
Solid timber products

Structural solid timber products involve at most

very little change to the structure of the wood.
The processing is based - depending on the
particular product - on sawing, drying, grad
ing, finger-jointing and applying adhesive to
the surface. Sol i d timber products used for
loadbearing or bracing purposes must be
approved by the building authorities.
Round sections
These can be simply trunks with the branches
and bark removed (fi g . B 6. 1 2 a) . Relieving
grooves are often cut i n larger cross-sections
to reduce the risk of uncontrolled crackin g . The
surface fin ish can range from retaining the orig
inal trunk form, to the evening-out of irregulari
ties, to the machining to size with a constant
diameter and smooth surface. Round sections
are primarily used for the load bearin g mem
bers of frames, but also in landscaping work
and timber engineering projects.
Sawn solid timber made from softwood and
Sawn solid sections (fig. B 6 . 1 2b) are produced
by cutting the debarked trunk into square or more usually - rectangular sections. Depend-

ing of the ratio of width (b) to thickness (d) or

depth ( h ) , we classify the resulting sections as
sawn sections, planks, boards or battens:
sawn sections: b $; h $; 3 b and b > 40 mm
planks: d > 40 mm and b > 3 d
boards: d $; 40 mm and b 80 mm
battens: d $; 40 mm and b < 80 mm

One-piece conversion

Drying, finger-jointin g , planing, chamfering and

further profiling are the operations involved in
the processing of sawn sol id timber sections.
Such sections are used in many ways in the
building industry, e . g . as load bearing mem
bers, supporting constructions, formwork or
external cladding.
Solid structural timber (KVH)
These are members made from better-quality
sawn softwood products (fi g . B 6. 1 2 c) . The
k i l n-drying to a moisture content of 1 53%, the
careful conversion and the visual strength
grading with additional grading req u i rements
help ensure a high degree of d i mensional sta
bility, low risk of fissures and a high-quality sur
face finish. The trade offers solid structural tim
ber for exposed and normal purposes. Owin g
t o their good d imensional stability, these prod
ucts are ideal for timber housebuilding and for
load bearing members. The low moisture con
tent enables these products to be used without
chemical timber preservatives even in fully
i nsulated constructions.
Four-piece beams
The characteristic feature of the four-piece
beam is the central "conduit" running the full
length of the timber (fi g . B 6. 1 2 d ) . These prod
ucts are manufactured by g l u i n g together four
softwood squared or similar segments with the
grain parallel and the wane placed on the
inside. The polyurethane adhesive used forms
a structural joint. The moisture content of < 1 5%
means that these beams can be used for simi
lar applications to the sol id structural timber
described above.
Duo and trio beams
These products are made from two or three
planks or sawn sections whose surfaces are
glued together (fi g . B 6. 1 2 e) . Drying the timber
to achieve a moisture content of < 1 5% is fol
lowed by visual strength grading, finger-joint
i n g , planing on all sides and cutting to length
before the adhesive is appl ied to join the
selected pieces to form a beam. Afterwards,
the d uo/trio beam can be planed again as a
whole and the arrises chamfered. This high
quality soli d timber product represents another
alternative to the aforementioned sol id structur
al timber and four-piece beam.

Split-heart two-piece conversion

Two-piece conversion, without heart

Four-piece conversion, without heart

8 6. 1 3
8 6. 1 1

Physical parameters of common species of

8 6 . 1 2 Solid timber products for structural purposes
a Round section
b Solid section (VH)
c Solid structural timber (KVH)
d Four-piece beam
e D uo/trio beam
f Glued laminated timber
8 6. 1 3 Forms of conversion
8 6. 1 4 Linear wood-based products
a Structural veneer lumber (SVL)
b Parallel strand lumber (PSL)

Glued laminated timber (glulam)

G l u lam sections consist of at least three soft
wood boards (laminations) glued together with
their grain paral lel. They are manufactured in a
similar way to the d uo/trio beams, but in this
case the moisture content is only about 1 2%

8 6. 1 4

Wood and wood-based products

Wood-based products

Solid timber



1 LI




Rotary cutting



Sh in g l es

Standard shingles
Decorative shingles

ve n ee rs

1 1


__________ L_____ _

Sawn sections

Solid wood boards

Veneer plywood


Laminated veneer

Multi-ply board

Solid structural


Parallel strand

Four-piece beam

Wood wool

Wood wool slab

Multi-ply l ightweight building




Glued laminated

Wood cement

wood fibre insulating
Wood fibre insulating board
Medium board

Extruded particleboard

Medium density
fi breboard

Tubular particleboard

Fibre-cement board

Oriented strand
Laminated strand

and during the strength grad ing any larger

growth-related defects are eliminated. Further
more, besides straight members it is also
possible to produce elements with a variable
cross- section, or with single or double curva
ture. G lued laminated timber is ideal for heavily
loaded, long-span members ( e . g . single-storey
sheds, bridges) and for components that must
satisfy high demands i n terms of dimensional
stability and appearance.
The life cycle assessment for g lued laminated
timber suffers due to the additional energy
requirements during production and the use of
adhesives. This is also true for other processed
timber products.
Wood-based products

These products - in the form of fibre boards

and particleboards - have been used in the
building industry for more than 50 years. In the
meantime, the industry has developed a whole
range of products (fig. B 6. 1 5) . The appear
ance of further products capable of accommo
dating high stresses can be expected in the
near future.
Wood-based products consist of small pieces
of wood, mostly pressed together with the help

of adhesives or mineral b i nders to form boards

or l i near members. The raw materials for boards,
l i near members, veneers, chips and fibres stem
from the sawm i l l , industrial waste and other
scrap wood, provided it is free from foreign
matter. The production process results in a
homogeneity that leads to material properties
with a low scatter. In comparison to solid timber
products, the anisotropy of the wood is evened
out to a large extent, and the swelling and
shrinkage tendencies are considerably reduced.
Wood-based products made from veneers or
boards ( i . e . layered products made up of plies
of material) usually achieve higher strengths.
Boards made from chips or fibres on the other
hand are not as strong as mature timber.
If wood-based products are to be used for load
bearing purposes, then they must be approved
by the building authorities. D I N 68 800 parts 2
and 3 d ivide such boards into three classes
depending on their resistance to moisture.
These classes correspond to conventional
usage situations and the anticipated maximum
moisture contents that can occur, which may
not be exceeded:

Production sizes of
wood-based boards

B 6 . 1 5 Systematic classification of solid timber and

woodbased products
B 6 . 1 6 Formats and material thicknesses of woodbased
products (guide only)
B 6.1 7 Physical parameters of solid timber products and
linear wood based products
B 6 . 1 8 Boardtype woodbased products
a 3ply core plywood
b Laminated veneer lumber (LVL)
C BUilding-grade veneer plywood
d BUildinggrade veneer plywood of beech
e Particle board (P)
f Oriented strand board (OSB)
g Laminated strand lumber (LSL)
h Medium density fibreboard (MDF)


Porous softboard


Thin particleboard

Lightweight particle- Gypsum-bonded

board with wood
particle board
wool facing
Chipboard with
fibre facing

Duo/trio beam



B 6. 1 5

HWS class 2 0 : max. moisture content 1 5%

(e.g. inner linings to external walls)
HWS class 1 00: max. moisture content 1 8%
(e.g. cladding to external walls and voids)
HWS class 1 00 G: max. moisture content 21 %
(e.g. backing layers beneath waterproofing
on fl at roofs)

The binder used for wood-based products

bonded with synthetic resin can make use of
various organic adhesives (urea, melamine,
phenol ic and other resins) . Boards of class
1 00 G are impregnated with an approved tim
ber preservative to combat fungi that feed on
wood . Wood-based products bonded with
gypsum can be used for applications of class
20 and 1 00, those bonded with cement for
class 1 00 G as well (see "Bu i l d i n g materials
with m ineral binders", p . 61 ) .
Fig . B 6. 1 6 lists the usual material thicknesses
and maximum dimensions for common wood
based products.
3- and 5-ply core plywood

These boards consist of three or five cross

banded (i.e. adjoining p l ies at 90 to each
other) softwood plies (4-50 mm thick) g lued

min. material
thickness [mm]

max. material
thickness [mm]

max. width

max. length


1 820
1 525
1 850

23 000
20 000

Layered products

Multiply board
Laminated veneer lumber
Veneer plywood
Building-grade veneer plywood
Parallel strand lumber







1 0 700



1 250



Laminated strand lumber

Oriented strand board

Medium density fibreboard .

B 6. 1 6

Wood and wood-based products

together (fi g . B 6. 1 8 a) . The strengths of such

boards vary considerably depending on the
respective ply thickness, the species and the
quality of the wood. Three- and five-ply core
plywood is suitable for load bearing and brac
ing purposes.
Cross-laminated timber
Like the three- and five-ply core plywood
described above, these boards also consist of
cross-banded softwood plies glued together.
The individual p lies are glued together to form
wall, roof or floor panels with a thickness of up
to 85 mm. Computer-controlled assembly
plants render possi ble the prefabrication of
window and door openings at the works with
millimetre precision (figs B 6 . 2 1 and 6.22) .
Laminated veneer lumber (LVL)
Softwood rotary-cut veneers approx. 3 mm
thick can be pressed together and g lued with
phenolic resin to form a very efficient wood
based product (fig. B. 6. 1 8 b) . In grade S (for
linear members) the d i rection of grain l ies par
allel in all pl ies, whereas in grade Q (for planar
members) the direction of grain i n some plies
lies transverse to the adjoining pl ies.

Structural veneer lumber (SVL) products are

linear components with a maximum width of
500 mm that are made from several LVL ele
ments glued together (fig . B 6. 1 4 a) . These
products can be used as beams, columns,
facade constructions or in timber housebuild
Parallel strand lumber (PSL)
PSL represents an alternative to solid timber
products (e.g. g lued laminated timber) for
heavily loaded, linear components (fig. B 6. 1 4 b) .
The manufacture o f parallel strand lumber
requires strips of rotary-cut veneer 25 mm wide
x 0.5-2.6 m long in Douglas fir (OF) or southern
yellow pine (SYP) which are aligned with the
axis of the beam and g lued together with phe
nolic resin.

Solid timber products and

linear wood-based products

Building-grade veneer plywood (BFU)

The term veneer plywood covers boards made
from several veneer plies g lued together (fi g . B
6. 1 8 c), but with five p lies or more and thick
nesses exceeding 1 2 mm the term multiplex is
often used. Owin g to their high strength, such
boards are ideal for load bearing components.
If cross-banded beech veneer i s used instead
of softwood (grade B U ) , this produces a very
high qual ity, stable board suitable for internal
fitting-out and furniture (fi g . B 6. 1 8d ) .
Moulded plywood
It is also possible to create many different
shapes by pressing multi-ply g lued veneer ply
wood over a negative mould under steam. This
technique is mainly used for internal fitting-out
and furniture applications.
Blackboard (S7) and laminboard (STAE)
The core in blockboard and laminboard con
sists of timber stri ps. In blockboard the strips
are 24-30 mm wide, in laminboard < 8 mm.
Veneer facings are glued to both sides of the
core. In grade 1 even the strips are g lued
together without flaws, grade 2 boards can
have small flaws here.
Particleboards are widely used, e . g . as plank
ing to provide stability, or as a covering to walls
and floors. The dense surface is ideal as a
backing for veneers and other finishes. We distinguish between particleboards bonded with
synthetic resin and those with a mineral binder.
The manufacturing process influences the posi
tion of the chips in the board and hence also
the stability of the final product. Pressed parti
cleboards contain horizontal chips, but i n
extruded boards the c h i ps are arranged per
pend icular to the board.

Particleboards (P) consist of relatively small

c h i ps lying parallel with the plane of the board
and these days are very widely used for inter
nal fitting-out and furniture (fig . B 6. 1 8 e) . Parti
cleboards bonded with synthetic resins make
use of phenolic, urea or modified melamine
resins. Such boards are available in thickness
es from 2.8 to 38 mm.


parallel to

parallel to


[kg / m"]

[N / mm']

[N/ mm']

[N / mm']

Swelling and
[% per 1 %
change in


8.5-1 1
8.5 -1 3


1 0-1 3
1 1-18






1 7-20
1 9-21

0.01 /0.32 '

0.01 /0.32 '

50/ 1 00


Solid timber products (e.g. spruce)

Sawn section; S1 0
Solid structural timber (KVH)
Four-piece beam
Duoltrio beam
Glued laminated timber

Linear wood-based products

Laminated veneer lumber grade S

Parallel strand lumber (PSL)

In the direction of the board parallel to the grain/perpendicular to the grain.

B 6. 1 7

B 6. 1 8

Wood and wood-based products

Board-type wood-based product


strength in
plane of
board 1
[N / m m2]


Shrinkage in
plane of board

[kg / m3]

bending stress
to plane of
board 1
[N / mm2]

[W/ m K]

[% per 1 %
change in
moisture cont.]



3.5-1 3
1 3-21

5.5-1 1
7.5-1 1
8-1 9

0.1 4
0. 1 5
0. 1 5






2-4 .5
1 6-20

1 .75-3
1 -4.2
8-1 0

0. 1 3
0. 1 4


50/ 1 00
50/ 1 00
50/ 1 00



900-1 000

0.8-1 .3
0.8-1 .3

1 .5-2 . 1

0. 1 -0. 1 7
0. 1 7
0.08-0. 1 7

n .a.


E to D-s2dO



ibility class


Layered prpducts

3-ply core plywood

5-ply core plywood
Laminated veneer lumber
Building-grade veneer plywood
Blockboard, laminboard

Oriented strand board
Laminated strand lumber

Medium density fibreboard

Medium board
Porous softboard
Bitumen-impregnated woodfibre insul. bd.

Based on information provided by manufacturers.

European combustibility class to DIN EN 1 3501 with the exception of floor coverings. This corresponds to D I N 4 1 02 building materials class B2.

A s the chips of extruded boards are arranged

perpendicular to the plane of the board, such
boards have high transverse tensile strengths
but low tensile bending strengths. Therefore,
they are usually installed with planking to both
sides (e.g. thin particleboards) .
We d istinguish between solid extruded particle
board (ES) and tubular particleboard (ET) , in
which internal longitudinal voids reduce the
self-weight of the board . Extruded boards are
often used for door leaves or in partitions.
Oriented strand board (OS8)
Chips (approx. 75 mm long) aligned parallel
with the surface of the board give oriented
strand board its characteristic appearance
(fig . B 6. 1 8 f) , which can remain visi ble as a
vigorously textured surface under thin coatings.
The edges are vulnerable to damage and OSB
is therefore not suitable for exposed areas.
Owing to the alig nment of the chips, OSB has a
distinctly higher tensile bending strength in the
longitudinal d i rection than in the transverse
d i rection. This wood-based product is suitable
for load-sharing and bracing planking as well
as for load bearing flooring beneath a floor
Laminated strand lumber (LSL)
Chips of poplar approx. 300 mm long are
pressed together with the add ition of MDI poly
urethane adhesive. Laminated strand lumber
(fig . B 6 . 1 8 g) exhibits h i g h strengths and is
therefore suitable for applications involving
high loads.
Wood fibreboards
Wood fibreboards are manufactured without
any b inder - simply by pressing the fine wood
fibres together which, owin g to the high pres-


sures used, undergo felting (interlockin g ) . The

strength of these boards varies depending on
the degree of compression. The ensuing fully
homogeneous material no longer exhibits any
texture (e.g. grain) . In contrast to other wood
based products, wood fibreboards can be
processed like solid timber by routing or similar
machining processes to form three-dimensional
Medium boards (MBLlMBH) and hardboards
(HB) are pressed together using the wet proc
ess without the need for any binder. Their hard
wearing surfaces protect them against
mechanical damage.
Owing to their low density and good sound
absorption properties, porous fibreboards (SB)
and wood fibre insulating boards (WF) are suit
able for use as combined thermal and sound
insulation (see " I nsulating and sealing", p. 1 38) .
The manufacture of medium density fibreboard
(MDF, fig . B 6. 1 8 h) involves adding a small
amount of urea or phenol ic resin to the wood
fibres prior to pressi n g . Thanks to their hard ,
abrasion-resistant surfaces, medium density
fibreboards are used as backings for all kinds
of finishes and are consequently ideal for i nter
nal fitting-out. It is also possible to colour the
boards evenly by adding pigments; however,
the colour range currently available is limited to
yellow, red , green , blue and black. These
boards can also be shaped with the help of
templates under the action of pressure, heat
and moisture.

Almost all the boards and panels made from

wood-based products are suitable as backings

B 6. 1 9

for veneer. Consequently, the fitting-out and

furniture industries have materials at their dis
posable that are less vulnerable to shrinkage
and cracking than the equivalent solid timber
products, but sti l l achieve a simi lar visual
effect. This allows more economical usage of
high-qual ity species of wood. As traces of wear
and damage become readily noticeable along
the edges, veneered boards are usually provid
ed with a solid wood strip to protect the edges.
We d istinguish between veneers for plywood,
veneers used as backings and those for deco
rative purposes.
Sawn veneers
Owing to their production with a circular or
gang saw, sawn veneers are at least 1 mm
thick, and the high wastage makes them com
paratively expensive. They can be produced
free from fissures and while retaining their natu
ral colour and grain .
Sliced veneers
The veneer is sliced lengthwise across the full
width of the wood when particularly high-qual ity
surfaces are required. The angle of application
of the blade influences the final appearance.
The wood for this process has to be usually
steamed or cooked, which changes the
appearance of especially l i ght-coloured wood
species such as maple and birch.
The use of graded strips of veneer in a mirrored
arrangement enables symmetrical veneer pat
terns or the illusion of greater width.
Rotary-cut veneers
Rotary-cut veneers are obtai ned by cutting the
trunk as it rotates. This creates an endless rib
bon of veneer material. Rotary-cut veneers are
less expensive than sawn and sliced veneers,

Wood and wood-based products

but for most species of wood result in an unnat

ural, "turbulent" grain. They are used for pro
ducing laminated veneer lumber or for backing
Rotary-cut face veneers can be obtained from
birch, ash and maple provided the trunk is cut
at an angle. This results in a similar grain to the
sliced veneers but with a greater spacing
between the g rowth rings.

Protecting wood

As a regenerative raw material, wood forms

part of the natural process of decomposition
into its original constituents and their return to
the biogenic lifecycle. The purpose of passive
and chemical protection of the wood is to guar
antee the durability of the material and protect
the wood against degradation by organisms
(fungi and insects) that feed on (and thus
destroy) the wood. Fungi extract cellulose and
lignin from the wood and therefore cause rot
ting and decay. They tend to g row when the
moisture content exceeds 20% and the cell
cavities contain free moisture. I nsects can
attack the wood and eat through the softer sap
wood, which is rich in proteins. The primary
objective of so-called passive protection of the
timber is to minimise the conditions under
which such damaging organisms can thrive.
Protection against fung i is therefore mainly
aimed at limiting the moisture content of the
timber. Such measures include, for example,
providing overhanging eaves and protectin g
plinths against splashing water. Furthermore,
choosing a durable species of wood can elimi
nate the need for chemical treatments (fi g . B
6. 1 1 ) . All the passive measures should certain
ly be investigated before resorting to chemical
Chemical wood preservatives are based on the
use of pesticides. The preservative must pene
trate as deep as possible. We d istinguish
between preservatives soluble in water and
those containing solvents (see "Surfaces and
coatings", p. 1 98 ) . I n recent years environmen
tally compatible preservatives have appeared
on the market alongside those that cause
hygiene and ecology concerns. The new pre
servatives include, for example, boron salts,
which can penetrate deep into the timber
cross-section when appl ied using pressure

as fuel, the other half for paper production and

building. Consequently, the forest is one of the
largest and, at the same time, most inexpen
sive producers of raw materials.
From forest management to the Brundtland Report

Up until the 1 8th century carpenters them

selves searched for suitable trees in the forest,
felled them and worked them as required . Only
as wood became scarcer did this tradition
change to planned forest management. Since
1 7 1 3 wood has been used according to the
sustainabil ity principle first devised by the Ger
man forester Hans Car I von Carlowitz. At the
start of the 1 8th century sustainabil ity meant
that no more wood could be taken from the for
est than could be regrown. This concept, initial
ly i ntended for forestry management, was taken
on board by the World Commission on Environ
ment and Development (Brundtland Report) i n
1 987 a s a basis for a n integrative global policy
Wood as a carbon storehouse

Biomass (wood ) is formed from the carbon

d ioxide (C02) in the air, water ( HP) and trace
elements from the soil with the help of chloro
phyll and solar energy. During this process
oxygen (02) is released.
When it is burned, but also during natural de
gradation by fungi and bacteria, the b iomass is
broken down into carbon dioxide and water
again as energy is released (fig . B 6.20) .
Wood is made up of about 50% carbon (C)
from the carbon d ioxide in the air. This carbon
remains stored in the forests and timber prod
ucts for the whole time between photosynthesis
and the oxidation of the wood (degradation by
fungi and bacteria, or combustion) . Wood
therefore makes a major contribution to reduc
ing carbon d ioxide concentrations. The forests
of Europe hold about 20 times the amount of
carbon dioxide that is released i nto the atmos
phere every year through emissions. The use of
wood and wood-based products in building
prolongs this storage effect. And using more
timber and so curtailing the production of steel
and concrete reduces the emissions of carbon
d ioxide even further.

Solar energy

/ 1 "

carbon dioxide + water

6CQ, + 6H,O


oxygen + biomass
60, + C,HI2O,

56.5 MJ calorific energy

" r'\

1 .44 kg CO,
0.56 kg

1 kg wood
kg 0,

1 8.5 MJ heating value

B 6.20

B 6.19

Physical parameters of board-type wood-based

B 6.20 Simplified illustration
a Photosynthesis of wood
b Combustion of wood
B 6.21 -22 Structure made from cross-laminated timber,
"Parasite" house, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2001 ,
Korteknie & Stuhlmacher

Wood and sustainability

Forests cover approx. 30% of the Earth's land

surface. Whereas forests in the developing
countries have been d isappearing in recent
years (-9%), stocks of trees in the industrial
ised nations have increased (+ 3% ) . Based on
this growth, it seems sensible to increase the
use of timber products in Europe.
Roughly half of the timber stocks available g l o
bally (approx. 3.3 billion m3 annually) are used

B 6.22


The d iscovery and use of metals had a great

influence on the cultural development of human
kind in ancient times. Accordingly, these epochs
have been named after the corresponding
Up until the New Stone Age, i .e . up until about
6000 BC, metals that occur in pure (native)
form in nature were used to a limited extent,
e . g . for jewel lery. The next milestone is around
4300 BC, which heralded the dawn of the Cop
per or earliest Bronze Age in Central Europe.
During this period techniques for extracting
metals from ores, metal casting and the pro
duction of tools spread .
The discovery of the more hardwearing bronze
- an alloy of copper and tin - in Egypt around
3500 BC characterised the next cultural epoc h .
Bronze became popular for household utensils,
weapons, tools, jewellery and much more
besides. The ongoin g development of metal
casting even made possi ble the first series pro
duction runs. The outcome of these technical
developments was new professions, and trade
relations started to expand. New social struc
tures formed in society, which led in turn to the
first city-states.
After about 1 200 BC iron began to replace
bronze because it was more readily available.
However, at first iron was d ifficult to work. The
earl iest furnace for producing iron , the so
called bloomery, was heated with charcoal and
produced a lump of iron and slag from the orig
inal iron ore. Considerable hammering was
required to separate the slag from the iron and
then turn the lump of iron into the desired

Waterloo I nternational Rail Terminal, London, UK,

1 993, N icholas Grimshaw & Partners
B 7.2 Overview of metals and their alloys
B 7.3 Golden roof, Secession building, Vienna, Austria,
1 897, Joseph Maria Olbrich
B 7.4 Iron frame, Gare du Nord, Paris, France, 1 863
B 7.5 Large-scale use of cast steel in industrialisation:
cast iron wheels, steelworks in V6lklingen,
Germany, 1 9th century.
B 7.1


It was not until the 1 4th century that the tech

n ique of using bellows in raised blast-furnaces
to generate temperatures of about 1 500C
became widespread in order to reduce larger
q uantities of molten iron. In his 1 2 books with
the title De re metallica /ibri XII published in
1 556, Georg ius Agricola describes the state of
the art of that time, techniques that did not
undergo any noteworthy changes until the
dawn of industrialisation in the 1 9th century.
The consumption of great q uantities of wood
had already led to the d isappearance of large
areas of forest by the 1 4th century. The pro-


duction of 1 kg of iron required about 1 25 kg of

wood to supply the necessary energy. But in
1 709 Abraham Darby succeeded in firing a
blast-furnace with coke, and by the end of the
1 8th century coke was increasingly replacing
wood as a fuel. This resulted in metal produc
tion being transferred to coal-mining regions. It
was in Coalbrookdale (UK) in one of these
regions that the first cast iron bridge was built
in 1 779. The growing demand for rolled iron
products in the building industry encouraged
further technical progess.
Metal in architecture

Cramps of iron and bronze for holding together

the individual stones of Greek and Roman
structures were the first metal components
used in the building industry. But it was not
until the 1 9th century that metal i n the form of
cast iron began to be used for load bearing ele
ments. The methods of building initially fol
lowed the practices that had been used for
centuries for timber and stone. But delicate
constructions quickly showed the unlimited
shaping opportunities and the higher load
carrying capacity of this material . One famous
example is the reading room of the St Gene
vieve l ibrary in Paris ( 1 850) by Henri Labrouste.
The use of i ron left exposed was at first accept
ed only for bridges, industrial structures and
railway stations (fi g . B 7.4) . Owing to its effi
ciency and fast erection, cast i ron was
favoured for the world expositions in London
( 1 85 1 ) and Paris ( 1 889). Joseph Paxton used
prefabricated cast iron components for his
"Crystal Palace" in London in 1 85 1 , the size of
which - 564 x 1 24 x 33 m - would even today
cause some astonishment. In Paris on the other
hand, renowned architects and artists protest
ed against Gustave Eiffel's 300 m tower for the
world exposition of 1 889. At the start of the 20th
century, the easy mouldability of metals was
used to great effect by the proponents of Art
Nouveau (fig . B 7 . 3 ) .
Development o f steel construction
By the end of the 1 9th century it was possible
to obtain large quantities of molten steel direct
ly from pig iron using the Bessemer method
invented in 1 856, which had enabled cheaper







:;, 2 %

< 2 %

amounts of:

amounts of:

amounts of:

copper 80-90%
tin 1 0-20%

copper 65%
zinc 35%

B 7.2

production of steel on a large scale. It thus

became possible to construct large industrial
plants (fi g . B 7.5). One of the first steel bridges
in Europe was that over the Firth of Forth in
Scotland ( 1 889).
The efficiency of steel and the economic devel
opments in America led to a new type of build
ing - the skyscraper, which underwent a rapid
evolution: the first high-rise blocks in Chicago
and New York were built around 1 890 and had
1 0-1 5 storeys (fig . B 7 .9) , but the Empire State
Building built just 40 years later had 1 03 stories
and even today is still in the top 1 0 of the world's
tallest buildings. For the first time in history of
architecture, the external envelope could be
completely transparent (fig . B 7 . 1 ) - thanks to
structural steelwork.

This particular metallic bond allows us to

explain all the physical properties such as high
density and strength, the high melting point
plus the good thermal and electrical conductiv
ity. Metals can be moulded and usually have
shiny surfaces. Some metals exhibit magnetic
properties. Their high thermal conductivity
means that they feel cold to the touch, but inci
dent solar radiation is absorbed and results in
a significant rise in temperature.
One particular feature of the metals is their
plastic deformation (the so-called yielding)
under high loading. For their use in building
therefore it is not the u ltimate load that governs
but rather a stress equivalent to the yield point,
which is reached at an elongation of 0.2%.
B 7.3

Deposits and production

Contemporary applications
The majority of metal used in the modern con
struction industry is in the form of rolled steel
sections for loadbearing members in single
storey sheds and high-rise buildings, and steel
bars for reinforced concrete structures. How
ever, metal is also used in many components from outside facilities to roof elements (e.g.
cladding and roof coverings) , and for fixings,
fasteners and services.
Remarkable examples of the use of metal
facades can be seen at the offices of the
John Deere Company dating from the 1 960s
(Eero Saarinen) , which uses weathering steel,
the Lloyds headquarters in London (Richard
Rogers) , which is clad with stainless steel
panels (fig. B 7 . 1 1 ) , and the copper facade to
the railway signal box in Basel by Herzog & de
Meuron (fig. B 7. 1 6) . Further possibilities for
steel construction can be seen in the designs
of Frei Olto (see "Synthetic materials", p . 90,
fig. B 9. 1 ) , which reveal the path of the forces.
Norman Foster showed us the boundaries of
technical feasibility in steel high-rise building i n
his design for the 1 000 m Mi llennium Tower in

Although the majority of chemical elements are

in fact metals, they account for less than 1 5%
of the material in the Earth's crust. Only the so
called precious metals such as gol d , si lver and
p latinum occur in nature in their pure (native)
form. The metals important for the building
industry (e. g . iron, aluminium, copper) are
obtained from ores (sulphides and carbonates)
but first have to be converted to oxides in vari
ous preparatory processes before they can be
smelted (reduced) in blast-furnaces.
Classification of metals

We distinguish between heavy metals (> 4500 kg!

m3) and light metals 4500 kg/m3) . The classi
fication into ferrous and non-ferrous metals
(fi g . B 7.2) shows the great importance of iron
and its alloys in comparison with the other met
als. Metals can be pure - consisting of the
atoms of one chemical element - but can also
be combinations of two or more elements (so
called all oys) , i.e. a blend of a metal and anoth
er substance (metallic or non-metallic such as
silicon or phosphor) . Even small proportions of
other substances can change the material
properties of metal al loys. This allows the mate
rial to be adapted for diverse applications.


Material lifecycle

Metals (Greek: metal/on mine) are those

chemical elements whose atoms combine to
form crystalline structures with free electrons.

Metals can be returned to the production proc

ess without impairing the q uality of subsequent
products. In fact, recycling represents an
B 7.5



and jointing
of metals





Shaping and jointing of metals

Semi-finished products made from metal
a Trapezoidal profile sheet metal
b Perforated sheet metal
c Stamped sheet metal
d Expanded metal
Ropes and rods:
e Cable net
f Knitted fabric
g Woven meshes of strips
h Woven meshes of ropes and rods
i Rolled stainless steel sections
j Extruded aluminium sections (window frames)
k Cast steel node
I Washbasin tap
Semi-finished products made from various metals
Structural steelwork, Times Tower, New York,
USA, 1 905, Daniel Burham













' ji








o limited
- unsuitable



Jointing methods

















Cast iron






advantage because it requires much less ener

gy to melt down the metal. The reuse q uota for
scrap metals sent for recycl i n g is 90%, in the
case of steel almost 1 00%.
Behaviour in fire, fire protection

Metals are incombustible, but lose their

strength at high temperatures. The modulus of
elasticity and the yield point fal l , and the metal
deforms. The maximum temperature for steel is
approx. 500-600C, depending on the cross
section. In order to protect building occupants
against the failure of components in a fire,
structural steelwork must be protected, either
by enclosing it in a fire-resistant material or
coating, by filling hol low members, or by install
ing fire extinguishing systems.

Corrosion is the chemical or electrochemical

reaction of a substance. Metals oxid ise in high
humidities and through contact with wet or
damp materials.
Galvanic corrosion takes place at the point
where two disparate metals are in contact in
the presence of an electrolyte, e . g . water. I n
this case the less noble metal is corroded, a

fact that must be taken into account by consid

ering the electrochemical series when using
non-ferrous metals. The series extends from the
non-noble metals magnesium and aluminium to
the noble metals silver and gold. Simplified , the
series looks l i ke this: Mg-AI-Zn-Cr-Fe-Ni-Sn-Pb
Cu-Ag-Au. In order to prevent corrosion, p i pes
of copper, for example, should be laid down
stream of those made from iron or zinc, and not
vice versa.
As the working or machining of metals can
change their properties, especially in the case
of steel , an electrochemical reaction can take
place even within a steel component, e . g . at
bending points, welds or through alloying con


Passive corrosion protection is provided by

numerous forms of metallic and non-metallic
coverings such as paint, powder and plastic
coatings, enamel, galvanising and zinc plating.
Such coatings and coverings should not be
damaged during erection (e.g. through bolted
connections) . Corrosion protection prolongs
the l ifetime of external components or internal
components where the humidity is high.
Natural protective layers
Copper, aluminium, lead and zinc plus a
number of steel alloys (stainless steel , weather
ing steel) form protective layers on their surfac
es that prevent further corrosion.
Shaping and processing of metal

Corrosion protection
We distinguish between two fundamental approa
ches to the protection of components against
corrosion: active and passive protection.
Active protective measures are forms of con
struction that present I ittle or no chance for cor
rosion to gain a foothold. The targeted "sacrific
ing" of a less noble metal with an electrically
conductive attachment to the component can
actively prevent corrosion.

We d istinguish between cold- and hot-working

and mechanical machining processes. In cold
working the geometry of the atomic metal
microstructure is altered mechanically. In hot
working it is not the absolute temperatures (for
steel 900-1 300C, for lead 20C) that govern,
but rather the possible rearrangement of the
crystal lattice, a process that also occurs dur
ing the hardening and tempering of steel.
Therefore, rol l i n g , pressing and forging can be





Semi-finished products
made from various metals












Cast iron


















Corrosion-resistant steel

Galvanised steel










D '/l
'/l ::J
,_ D

Weathering steel



B 7.9

B 7.8

used for both hot- and cold-workin g depending

on the material (fi g . B 7 . 6 ) .
Forging can be carried out manually or by
machine using a hammer and anvil or with
pressing moulds (forg i n g d ies) . Forg ing can be
both a cold- and a hot-working process.
Diverse shapes are possible.
Casting permits any shape to be formed . How
ever, further processing of steel castings is
only possible using machining methods. Tin
and bronze are suitable for the production of
delicate, precision castings.
Workpieces (e.g. rolled steel sections) are
shaped in several operations in a rolling mill by
applying high contact pressures through a
system of variously sized rolls.
In extrusion the metal is forced through an
opening (die) to form the desired final shape.
This process i s particularly suitable for non
ferrous metals, which enables, for example,
complicated aluminium cross-sections for win
dow frames to be produced. Extrusion can be
both a cold- and a hot-working process.
Wires, rods and reinforcing bars are produced
by drawing, usually a COld-working process.
Sections, rods and wires for cables are twisted
about themselves. The enlarged surface area
of twisted reinforcing bars, for instance,
improves the bond between steel and

Mechanical machining
A wide range of metal products i n the building
industry require mechanical machi n i n g . Milling,
dri l l i n g , fi l i n g , sawing and turni n g are the so
called material-removal machining options. It i s
possi ble t o c u t a thread in sol id material, mill
holes, or turn hinges for doors and windows, to
name just a few examples. Bending and
stamping are among the COld-working process
es (e.g. for sheet metals) . And the folding of
thin sheet metal creates rainproof joints for roof
surfaces (see "The building envelope", p. 1 24 ) .
Jointing techniques

N umerous methods are used to join metals

together. We d istinguish between detachable
joints such as screws, bolts, nails, rivets and
pins, and the non-detachable ones such as
welding, solderi n g , brazing and bonding with
Welding involves melting the workpieces at
their point of contact to create a material bond
at the joint. In soldering, a molten metal or an
al loy with a low melting point joins together two
other metal workpieces.
Products, semi-finished products

The great number of metal products relevant to

building means that it is only possible to men
tion a few groups here: castings, drawn wires,
rods, reinforcing bars and meshes, p i pes, steel
sections, welded sections, cold-formed sec
tions, extruded sections, rings, collars, d iscs,
bolts, screws, turned parts and many forms of
sheet metal (figs B 7 . 7 and B 7 . 8 ) .

Ferrous metals

I ron and its alloys, especially steel, are suitable

for diverse technical applications and are
therefore required in such large q uantities that
today the production plants shape many Euro
pean cities.


I ron is the most widely used metal worldwide.

I ron deposits account for about 5% of the
chemical e lements available in nature and it
thus ranks fourth after oxygen, silicon and alu
minium. Pig iron contains approx. 4% carbon
and is brittle. Chemically pure iron is hardly
ever used because of its low strength and
rapid oxidation (corrosion) . But as the proper
ties of iron can be i mproved by reducing the
carbon content, it is mainly further processed
to form steel and other iron al loys.
Production and recycling
I ron ore is mixed with lime i n a blast-furnace
and reduced to iron at temperatures of 1 500C.
The process also produces slag and gases
from the non-metallic constituents in the iron
ore. Some of the carbon in the iron dissolves,
which lowers the melti ng point. The result is pig
iron containing carbon, which is heavier than
the slag and so s inks to the bottom of the fur
nace from where it can be drawn off continu
ously. The addition of scrap metal to this proc
ess results in two advantages: firstly, it
improves the qual ity of the pig iron, and sec
ondly, the primary energy requirement of recy
cling is only about 20-40% of that req uired for
new production.
Materials for casting
Compounds of iron with a carbon content > 2%
are known as cast iron, those with < 2% cast
steel (fig . B 7 . 1 0) . The properties and designa
tions of cast iron depend on the form of the car
bon in the solidified casting material. We d istin
guish between cast iron with lamellar graphite
(grey cast iron, GJL), with spheroidal graphite
(ducti le cast iron, GJS) and malleable cast iron
(GJ M ) . The latter turns a l i g hter colour in an oxi
dising atmosphere (white cast iron). In sand
moulding the carbon remains in the material
and gives it a dark colour (grey cast iron, L) .
There are also al loys of cast iron . Cast i ron





Ferrous metals

[kg/ m']


Coefficient Electrical
of thermal conductivity strength

Modulus of

Elongation Yield


at failure

& 0.2%
proof stress

[W/ mK]


[m / flmm']

[N / m m']


[N / mm']


98/285 2

[N / mm']

Cast iron
cast iron (lamellar graphite)


7 1 00-7300


0.Q1 2


1 00-450 (600-1 080)'

78000-143 000

cast iron (spheroidal graphite)


7 1 00-7200

36.2-31 . 1

0.Q1 3


400-900 (700-1 1 50) 1

1 69 000- 1 76 000



0.Q1 2


380-1 1 00



0.Q1 2



0.01 2

1 8-2


2 1 0 000




2 1 2 000




2 1 2 000

1 7-20


cast steel
structural steel
Fe 360 BFN (RSt 37-2)

WT St 37-3

Fe 5 1 0 C (St 52-3

WT St 52-3



1 .0038


1 .8965


1 .0553


1 .8965

stainless steel
V2A (X 5 CrNi 1 8- 1 0)

1 .4301


1 4. 5

0.01 6

1 .5




1 90

V4A (X 6 CrNiMoTi 1 7- 1 2-2)

1 .4571



0.01 7

1 .4




2 1 0-255

In contrast to steel, the compressive strength and tensile strength of cast iron are not identical. The compressive strengths are therefore given in brackets.

2 Owing to the low elongation at failure, these values apply to a 0 . 1 % proof

materials are brittle, cannot be shaped by forg

ing, and only certain types can be machined .
The melting point of cast iron is lower than that
of steel . Cast iron with spheroidal graphite can
be welded to a limited extent and i s more resis
tant to corrosion. A cast steel that undergoes
no further shaping is known simply as cast
steel (GS) . Cast steel al loys can be readily
welded to structural steel and are used for
jOints with complicated geometry (fig . B 7 . 7 ) .
Cast i ron in building is suitable for drain p i pes,
radiators and bath tubs, for instance. Inspec
tion covers and hydrants made from malleable
cast iron are also common. Fittings, hardware
and keys (i.e. ironmongery) are mad e from
white cast iron. Components made from d uctile
cast iron are used for connecting tie bars, guy
rods, bracing , etc.
If no test certificates are available, the proper
ties of load bearing cast parts must be proven
in elaborate tests. This is the reason for the
building industry's sluggish acceptance of the
more efficient casting materials made from the
special alloys that have been developed i n
recent years.

B 7.10


Steel is an alloy of iron with a carbon content

< 2 % . Stee l with a low carbon content has a
higher melting point, but can be forged more
easily and is less brittle. The modulus of elas
ticity and weldabil ity are the decisive factors
contributing to the wide use of steel in build i n g .
Structural steel contains approx. 0.2% carbon.
Proportions of other chemical elements - even
very tiny amounts - can influence the properties
of the steel quite considerably, e . g . corrosion
behaviour. New steel variations are constantly
being added to the 2000+ types currently
covered by standards.
Production and recycling
There are three methods for reducing the car
bon in pig iron and thus producing steel. In the
air refining process the carbon is removed from
the pig iron, either by injecting air (Thomas
process) or pure oxygen (Linz-Donauwitzer LD
method ) .
T h e open-hearth refi ning processes include the
Siemens-Martin and the electric-arc furnace
processes. The Siemens-Martin process was
developed by Wilhelm and Friedrich Siemens

in 1 856 for convertin g scrap metal back into

steel. Using a system for preheating gas and
air, the temperature of approx. 1 800C neces
sary for producing molten steel is generated in
a d ish-like furnace. I n 1 864 Pierre und Emile
Martin managed to apply this method success
fully, and it was set to remain the most impor
tant method for producing steel for the next
1 00 years.
The electric-arc furnace method requires an
electric arc to be fired between two electrodes.
The extremely high temperatures generated by
the arc are sufficient to melt even hig h-quality
metal alloys.
The LD and e lectric-arc furnace methods are
the most common steel making methods in use
Heat treatment
The physical properties of steel can be
changed through specific heating and cooling
or hammering (forging) because - depending
on the carbon content - various crystal struc
tures ensue at temperatures of 700-1 500C.
We d istinguish between annealing, hardening
and tempering.
Steel alloys

Steel alloys with other constituents must be

clearly d istinguished from steel because they
can exhi bit considerable d ifferences in terms of
their properties. The development of efficient
steel alloys is an ongoing process, and high
strength alloys of this kind are used , for exam
ple, in automotive and mechanical engineering
Stainless steel
Corrosion-resistant steels are usually grouped
together under the heading of stainless steel .
Such al loys contain a t least 1 0% chromium, but
also other metals such as nickel, molybdenum,
titanium, vanadium and tungsten; the carbon
content l ies below 1 .2%. In contrast to steel ,
stainless steels form a protective, so-called
passive, coating under normal conditions,
which renews itself if damaged. Nevertheless,
seawater or high humidity in combination with
salts (e.g. in thermal baths) can still attack
some types of stainless steel.
B 7.1 1


B 7.12


B 7 . 1 0 Physical parameters of ferrous metals common in

B 7.1 1 Stainless steel facade, Lloyds headquarters,
London, UK, 1 986, Richard Rogers Partnership
B 7. 1 2 Weathering steel , Kalkriese Museum, Bramsche,
Germany, 2002, Gigon + Guyer

B 7 . 1 3 Various anodised aluminium surfaces, Town Hall,

Scharnhausen, Germany, 2002, Jurgen Meyer H .
B 7.13

The energy required to manufacture stainless

steel is higher than that for steel owing to the
additional alloying elements requ ired . As stain
less steels often require no further surface fin
ishes, they can be readily recycled because
the electric-arc furnace process can melt down
these high-quality steels.
Various mechanical surface treatments can be
used on stainless steel, e . g . brushing, grinding,
acid-etching or sand-blastin g .
Building authority approval is required when
stainless steel is to be used for load bearing
applications. Stainless steel is used for facades,
roof coverings, pipes (flues), safety barriers,
handrails, kitchen furniture, hardware, fasteners
and much more.
Weathering steel
Alloys of steel with additions of copper, chromi
um, nickel and phosphorus gradually form a
permanent layer of rust upon exposure to the
atmosphere (fig . B 7 . 1 2) . Owing to this process
of rust formation, minimum thicknesses should
be taken into account in the case of load bear
ing components. Nevertheless, in marine envi
ronments or other unfavourable climatic condi
tions the rust layer does not provide permanent

Non-ferrous metals

Compared with aluminium, lead, zinc, copper

and their alloys, silver, gold, magnesium and
titanium are less important in the building
industry and therefore are not considered any
further here.

Although aluminium is the third most common

element and the commonest metal in the
Earth's crust, it was not discovered until the
1 9th century. Its extraction was so complicated
that it was initially treated as a very precious
Production and recycling
The raw material of aluminium is bauxite, which
is obtained from open-cast mines . In a process
not unlike that used for iron, aluminium oxide is

obtained first. Caustic soda (sodium hydroxide

layer a n d i s therefore very durable. On building
solution) is used to separate the aluminium
sites aluminium must be protected by sheeting
or similar means against the effects of concrete
hydroxide from the other constituents of the ore
and lime or cement mortars because their alkali
and this is subsequently heated to 1 200C to
constituents can attack the surface of alumini
obtain aluminium oxide. The high meltin g tem
perature of approx. 2000C is lowered by add
The oxide layer on aluminium can be reinforced
ing cryolite (Na AI F6) . Aluminium can then be
extracted from the mixture at approx. 1 000C by considerably through anodisin g . Depending on
the period of immersion in an electrolytic bath,
applying an electric current of between 30000
colours between light grey, grey-brown, bronze
and 1 00 000 A. The process requires a high
and dark brown are possible (fig. B 7 . 1 3) .
energy input and the by-products of the elec
Joints and junctions o n aluminium construc
trolysi s represent a problem for the environ
tions and facade cladding must take into
ment. This i s why aluminium is already being
recycled to a large extent, which saves 75-90% account the fact that the coefficient of thermal
of the primary energy, the exact saving depend expansion of aluminium is about twice that of
steel .
ing on the method of generating the electricity.
Nevertheless, in the price of aluminium the cost
of energy accounts for about 40%.
Extruded sections for supportin g frameworks,
Properties and processing
windows and post-and-rail facades represent
the most i mportant applications for aluminium
Aluminium is used wherever its low weight in building . With correspondi ngly large num
only about a third of that of iron and steel - is
bers, the forms of the extruded sections can be
Aluminium materials can be mil led, sawn and
varied almost at will with l ittle effort. Further
applications include plain and profiled sheets
drilled . They are light in weight, read ily mould
for facades and roofs, perforated sheets
ed, easy to work and can be polished.
Shaping is performed by rolling, stretch-form
(acoustic ceilings), lamp bodies, hardware
made from cast aluminium and much more
i n g , pressing, drawi n g , forging and upsettin g .
Aluminium is more ductile than steel a n d so
besides. Moreover, aluminium foil is popular for
extruded sections can be manufactured with
considerably less energy input.
Aluminium foams
Aluminium can be welded only in an oxygen
free atmosphere because the formation of the
Metal foams made from aluminium exhibit a
lower thermal conductivity and relatively good
layer of oxide must be prevented during the
wel d i n g procedure as wel l .
sound insulation properties. They have a good
compressive strength coupled with a low
The aluminium alloys used i n building are gen
erally also referred to simply as aluminium.
weight and are easy to work. They are already
in use in the automotive sector. In principle, it is
These alloys contain about 2-2.5% of elements
possi ble to produce such foams from other
such as s i l i con, magnesium, copper, manga
metals as well .
nese, etc.
The European material numbering system
includes a material designation for every type of Lead
After aluminium, lead is one of the commonest
metal. For example, aluminium alloy EN AW
3 1 01 has the chemical designation AIMn 1 . The
metals in the Earth's crust. It is a non-ferrous
main constituent of this material, besides alu
metal which is classed as a heavy metal
because of its high density.
minium, is manganese (0.9-1 .5%) plus about
2% of other alloying constituents (Fe, Si, M g , Zn, Properties
Lead has a low tensile strength and exhibits
Cr, Zr and Ti) .
Aluminium corrodes immediately upon exposure large temperature-induced changes in length.
to the air, but forms a permanent protective
It can absorb sound waves, x-rays and radio-



active radiation. Lead is attacked by strong

acids, fresh mortar and concrete, but is
extremely resistant to corrosion. Upon expo
sure to the air it forms a permanent l ayer of
oxide that subsequently carbonates with car
bon dioxide. This layer is l ight grey in colour
and insoluble in water. As lead is very soft, it is
easy to rol l , and easy to shape by hammering
and moulding . It can also be soldered and
welded. Lead has a matt grey colour.
Production and recycling
A lead sulphide concentrate is obtained after
several passes throug h so-called flotation cells.
This involves frothing up the finely ground ore
and copious aeration in order to separate the
metal compounds from other constituents. The
subsequent smelting of the dried concentrate
permits the addition of a high proportion of sec
ondary raw materials such as lead scrap. The
process requires a great deal of energy and a
toxic dust is produced, which must be d is
posed of in landfil l sites. The recycling quota is
in excess of 50%, which can help to save about
40% of the energy required for production.
Sheet lead is suitable for roof coverings and
facades (fi g . B 7 . 1 4) . Owing to its corrosion
resistance lead is also used as a protective
sheathing (e.g . for electric cables) .
Lead is suitable for shielding radiation in nucle
ar medicine applications and as a raw material
for rustproofing paints (red lead ) . Owing to its
toxic effects lead should be avoided these
days because it can become enriched in the
food chain.
Zinc and titanium-zinc

The Romans were already using zinc in the

form of brass, without being aware of the zinc
content itself. Marco Polo described the pro-

B 7.14

duction of zinc oxide for medicinal purposes at

the end of the 1 3th century.
I n d ustrial production of zinc began around
1 850. Zinc alloys ( e . g . titanium-zinc made from
99.995% zinc plus 0.003% titanium) have high
er strengths than the relatively brittle zinc itself.
The alloys can be soldered and welded and
have a lower thermal expansion than zinc. It is
for this reason that the building industry makes
use of titanium-zinc almost exclusively.
Zinc i s weather-resistant because, like lead, it
forms a permanent layer of carbonate when
exposed to the air. It is therefore frequently
used as a protective coatin g (galvanising) on
other metals such as steel, copper, etc.
Production and recycling
Zinc ores (sphalerite, smithsonite and zinc
oxide) are prepared using froth flotation - simi
lar to lead. To extract the zinc, both the so
called dry process, in which coal reduces the
zinc oxide in the by-product coke oven, and
also the wet process, in which the reduction is
performed electrolytically, are employed.
The preparation of the zinc ore directly at the
mine is an attempt to save energy. About 30%
of the worl dwide production of zinc is obtained
from secondary material (scrap).
Titanium-zinc in sheet form is suitable for
facades (fig . B 7 . 1 5) , roof g utters and pipes.
Zinc can be cast very precisely and in very
intricate moulds. There are many z inc-based
alloys relevant to the building industry, e . g . d ie
cast zinc for hardware, brass, nickel silver and
solders for solderin g .
O n e i mportant area o f application for zinc is its
use as corrosion protection on steel compo
nents because zinc is much more resistant
owing to the permanent protective layer that

B 7.15

forms. There are many methods for applying

this protection to steel components for use
externally: hot-di p galvanisi n g , electrogalvanis
i n g , zinc spraying, etc. The durabil ity of zinc
coatings essentially depends on the carbon
dioxide content of the surrounding air.

The word copper stems from the Latin word

cuprum and is evidence that the Romans
mined the ore on the island of Cyprus (Latin :
cyprium) . Copper is one of the heavy metals.
Copper has a shiny red colour and is very
hardweari n g . It is easy to work, is easy easily
shaped, soldered and welded, but is difficult to
cast. Copper conducts heat and electric cur
rent very wel l . Pure, soft copper is d ifficult to
work, but its strength improves considerably in
the form of copper al loys.
Copper is resistant to effects of gypsum, lime
and cement, and forms a dense, greenish layer
of copper salts upon contact with the air. Under
normal urban conditions this patina builds up
over a period of about eight years. Its colour
d uring this process ranges from red-brown to
dark brown and grey to the typical green. This
process can be reproduced chemically prior to
erection (so-cal led pre-patination) .
Verd igris on the other hand is a copper salt that
forms in the presence of acetic acid and is
often m istaken for the copper patina. In con
trast to the patina, verdigris is toxic and soluble
in water.
Production and recycling
Like lead and zinc, the copper ores chalcopy
rite and chalcocite are prepared using the froth
flotation process. The reduction takes place in

B 7.16


Non-ferrous metals


EN AW-7022




Coefficient of
conductivity thermal expansion conductivity



Modulus of

at failure

Yield & 0.2%

proof stress

2703 ' /2699 '



8-25 ' /2-8 '

1 30



72 200


4 1 0-490

70 000



1 1 340




1 0-20




90-1 20 ' / 1 50-230 '

40-70 '/ 80-1 1 0 '


7 1 30



1 6.9

1 50/220 '


25/ 1 5 '

1 60/220

Titanium-zinc Z1 (ZnCuTiAI)


1 09



1 50-220


;,, 35

1 00-1 60




0.D1 7

1 20 000

25-1 5 ' / 50-30 3



0.01 7


1 60-200 ' / 200-250 3

CW024A; 2.0090

200-51 5

1 32 000

Copper-tin alloy (bronze)



0.01 7-0.0 1 9

ca. 9


Copper-zinc alloy (brass)


1 1 7- 1 59

0.01 7-0.020

ca. 1 6


CuZn37; CW508L; 2.321




ca. 1 6


' cast

' rolled

3 annealed

40-60 1 / 1 00-1 50 3

3 - 40


80000-1 06000


1 30-1 80

75 000-1 20000

1 0-20

1 50 - 490



1 1 0 000

' Values for parallel with and transverse to rolling d i rection

B 7.17

a converter. However, for applications in elec

trical engineering, which account for about
60% of copper production, the copper is
extracted electrolytically (electrolytic copper) .
More than 50% of the production is based on
recycled material, which saves 86% of the pri
mary energy requirement.
Processing and applications
All the conventional metalworking techniques
are suitable for copper and its alloys. But the
material's high thermal conductivity makes it
difficult to weld, although it is easy to solder
and bond with adhesives.
Sheet copper is used for facades and roofs
(fig. B 7 . 1 6) but is also suitable for waterproof
ing tasks because it can be bonded with bitu
men. Copper is suitable for manufacturing
pipes, e.g. for heating systems, and is widely
used in electrical engi neerin g (see "Building
services", p. 1 50).
Alloys of copper and tin: bronze

The name bronze stems from the Latin brundi

sium (from Brind isi) should these days really be
replaced by the standardised designation "alloy

of copper and tin" because there are also alloys

of copper and aluminium (previously known as
aluminium bronze) . Bronze is produced in a
smelting furnace at 1 000C and contains a pro
portion of tin amounting to between 1 0 and 20%.
Bronze is extremely durable and weather
resistant. It is harder than brass and copper,
and exhibits good resistance to corrosion and
abrasion, which is why it is used for long-lasting
bearing bushes.
Bronze has a dark surface which can be pol
ished to a shiny gold colour with little effort. Evi
dence of this can be seen on the many bronze
sculptures and objects in public areas - parts
that frequently touched by admirers and pas
sers-by have shiny, pol ished surfaces.
Bronze is suitable for pipe couplings, hardware
and gas, water and steam fittings. In addition,
bronze i s used for casting bells and artistic
objects. Owing to its durabi l ity, bronze window
frames and doors can be found on many his
torical buildings, even on prestigious contem
porary buildings (fi g . B 7 . 1 8) .

Alloys o f copper and zinc: brass etc.

These alloys contain at least 50% copper.

These days we disti ng u i sh wrought copper
alloy (previously known as brass) from gunmet
al and nickel silver. The wrought copper alloy
consists of 55-85% copper plus zinc. Gunmet
al is an alloy of copper, zinc and tin (each
1 -1 0% ) . N ickel silver consists of 50-60% cop
per, 1 0 -25% nickel and zinc.
Copper alloys are read ily shaped, easy to work
and - in contrast to pure copper - can be cast
Brass is h i ghly resistant to corrosion and has a
shiny gold appearance after working or polish
ing. However, over time the surface tarnishes to
a dark matt finish.
Copper al loys are used in many applications,
e . g . brass for electric terminals, screws and
nuts, pipe fittings and hardware.
One architectural example of the use of a
woven metal mesh made from brass is the syn
agogue in Dresden (fi g . B 7 . 1 9) .
Nickel silver i s suitable for contact surfaces i n
electrical engineering, but also for hardware
and pipe fittings.

B 7.14 Cladding of sheet lead, Parco dell a Musica

Auditorium, Rome, Italy, 2002, Renzo Piano
B 7.15 Cladding of sheet titanium-zinc, Guggenheim
Museum, Bilbao, Spain, 1 997, Frank Gehry
B 7.16 Cladding of copper strips, signal box, Basel,
Switzerland, 1 999, Jacques Herzog & Pierre
de Meuron
B 7.1 7 Physical parameters of non-ferrous metals and
alloys used in the construction industry
B 7.18 Bronze facade sections, Seagram Building,
New York, 1 958, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
B 7.19 Brass mesh fabric, Dresden Synagogue,
Germany, 2001 , Wandel Hoefer Lorch + Hirsch



B 8. 1

The invention of the sand core technique ena

bled g lass to be made in small q uantities after
about 6000 BC. The blowing iron developed by
Syrian craftsmen around 200 BC meant that it
was possible to produce transparent vessels.
Roman builders were already using a form of
cast glass for windows. However, owing to the
method of production, the glass was not trans
parent, merely translucent.
G lass production between the 4th and 1 9th
centuries was dominated by two methods. I n
the crown g lass method the glass blower creat
ed a circular pane up to 2 m in d iameter by
rotating the glass around the blowing iron. This
method of production left the typical raised
centre section - the bullion. Larger areas of
glazing were created by joining together such
panes and smaller g lass fragments by means
of lead cames.
Contrasting with this, the blown cylinder sheet
g lass process enabled the production of larger,
almost flat panes. To do this, the blowing iron
was used to form a cylinder that was then slit
while still hot and subsequently rolled out on a
flat bed. However, the surface finish possible
with this method was far less uniform than that
of a pane of crown g lass.
The next major development took place in
France in 1 687: Bernard Perrot developed the
method of casting g lass on a preheated cop
per plate and subsequently i mproving the sur
face finish by grinding and polish i n g . Mirrors
were produced by polishing one side only.
Products made with this method were known
as pol ished plate glass.
The demand for timber for glass production
was enormous during this period because it
was needed to provide heat and to provide
potash. G lass therefore remained a luxury
reserved for prestigious buildings until well into
the 1 8th century. The windows of Gothic
churches are excellent examples of the skills of
the glass blowers of this period.
B 8.1

Glass pavilion at the Summer Academy in Rheinbach, Germany, 2000, Marquardt Architekten


B 8.2

Systematic classification of glass products

B 8.3

Physical parameters of silicon-based glass

B 8.4

Glass curtain wall, Bauhaus, Dessau, Germany,

B 8.5

Profiled glass facade, extension to the art gallery

During the 1 9th century glass manufacturers

began to fire their melting furnaces with coal.
New methods optimised the process of melting
and reduced the consumption of solid fuel .
Lucas a n d Robert Chance improved the blown

1 926, Waiter Gropius

in Winterthur, Switzerland, 1 995, Gigon + Guyer


cylinder sheet g lass process in 1 832 by unroll

ing and stretching the slit cylinder in a furnace.
Thanks to this new technique it became possi
ble to produce the large numbers of better
qual ity panes, e . g . for the Crystal Palace in
London ( 1 85 1 ) . The production of glass became
more efficient and cost-effective thanks to these
various technological developments.
In 1 905 - more or less at the same time - Emile
Fourcault and Emile Gobbe from Belgium as
well as the American I rving Col burn developed
different methods of drawin g flat glass directly
out of the melt.
By 1 9 1 9 Max Bicheroux from France had man
aged to combine the various operations for
producing cast g lass by shaping the hot glass
with cooled rollers, cutting it while stil l hot and
then conveying it on flat beds through an
annealing lehr.
It was not until 1 959 that manufacturers were in
a position to produce really flat g lass. I n that
year Alastair Pilkington invented the float glass
technique in which the glass is poured onto a
bath of liquid tin and allowed to solidify. Owing
to the efficiency of this method, it quickly
became established for producing almost all
types of flat g lass. Today, a typical float glass
plant can produce about 3000 m2 of hig h-quali
ty glass every hour.
Glass in architecture

The palm houses, railway stations and market

halls of the 1 9th century were already able to
incorporate fully g lazed facades. The architects
of the time were fascinated by the chance to
provide their bui ldings with totally transparent
external walls. As early as 1 9 1 9, Ludwig M ies
van der Rohe put forward a radical design for a
total ly glazed high-rise building in Berlin (which
was never b u i lt) . The Bauhaus building in Des
sau (Waiter Gropius, 1 926, fig. B 8.4) is regard
ed as an early example of a large glass facade.
One of the first residential buildings to make use
of translucent hollow glass blocks was Pierre
Charreau's "Maison de Verre" in Paris ( 1 932 ) .
The first ful ly g lazed residential blocks in Ameri
ca appeared in the early 1 950s (Ph i l i p Johnson
and Ludwig M ies van der Rohe) , also glass
curtain walls for office buildings, which are still
a beloved medium of many architects today.


Glass products

Pressed glass

Glass fibres

glass brickslblocks
glass tiles
glass roof tiles

glass for greenhouses

profiled glass

Metal composite
wired polished plate glass

patterned glass

wired patterned glass


wired profiled glass

optical fibres

foam glass

glass fleece

insulating materials

glass cloth

laminated safety glass

sheet glass
optical glass
bent glass

glass-fibre insulating materials


wired glass

Drawn glass

Foam glass

polished plate glass







toughened safety glass



heat-treated glass

silk-screen printing


si lk-screen printing

insulating glass



sound-insulating glass


fire-resistant glass

B 8.2

The oil crisis of the early 1 970s gave impetus to

the advance of glass technology; the develop
ment of double g lazing systems and coatings
encouraged the wider use of g lass. One excel
lent example for a thermal break of great trans
parency is the pyramid at the Louvre in Paris
(fig. 8 8. 1 3) .

Glass as a building material

Glass in the general sense is an amorphous

solid made from inorganic raw materials. This
amorphous state ensues when a melt cools too
rapidly for a crystalline structure to form. We
could therefore call glass a sol idified liquid,
although this would not be scientifically correct.
Isotropy, solidity and thermal behaviour are
three special qualities of glass that depend on
this state.
The constituents of glass for building are
defined in EN 572 as silicon dioxide (Si02), cal
cium oxide (CaO), sodium oxide (Nap ) , mag
nesium oxide (MgO) and aluminium oxide
(AIP3) ' The "normal" g lass accounting for the
majority of applications in building consists of
75% silicon dioxide, 1 3% sodium oxide and
1 2% calcium oxide.


Like all materials, glass absorbs radiation. How

ever, it does this in a range that is invisible to
the human eye and therefore glass appears to
be transparent. Glass is hard , resistant to wear
and has a h i g h compressive strength (fig . 8
8.3) . An exact tensile strength, however, cannot
be determined owing to the great brittleness of
this material and the relatively high surface
stresses. A decisive factor for the strength is
hence the qual ity of the g lass surface. Even
immed iately after production, microscopic flaws
can appear on the surface whose significance
or otherwise cannot be meani ngfully assessed
without extensive examination. Furthermore,
g lass exhibits the property of non-critical crack
propagation. This means that cracks on the sur
face of the g lass can also propagate even if the
glass is not subject to any significant load. The
breaking of a pane of glass may therefore not
have anything d i rectly to do with the tri g gerin g
event. I nterestingly, the high surface stresses in
glass enable it to do just the opposite, i . e . to
close up damage on the surface, e . g . cracks, to
a certain extent. This process depends on the
surrounding medium; in water for example, this
capabil ity is lost.
All these properties mean that the probabi lity of
fai l u re must be taken into account when design
i n g glass for structural purposes. And although
g lass is incombustible, its brittleness means
that it can accommodate only minor thermal

stresses. Only special fire-resistant glass can

withstand temperature d ifferences exceeding
80 K ( 1 50 K in the case of toughened safety
glass) . G lass is resistant to almost all chemicals
apart from aggressive compounds such as
hydrofluoric acid . In addition, ordinary glass
surfaces can also be damaged by the alkali ne
conditions formed under certain circumstances
in hardened cement mortar.

The high melting temperature of quartz sand

(approx. 1 700C) can be lowered to 1 2001 600C when mixed with soda (Nap03) or
potash (K2C03) ; fluorspar (CaF2) or sodium
sulphate (Na2S04 ) reduce the formation of air
bubbles . The semi-liquid glass is given the
desired shape by flowing, blowing, pressing,
casting or rolling while sti l l hot. G lass manufac
ture requires enormous amounts of energy and
is not environmentally friendly; however, the
energy audit can be improved by mixing in bro
ken g lass (cullet) from the production process
and, to a l imited extent, from recycled material.

G lass is cut to the desired size by scoring the

surface. To do this, a cutting wheel made from
diamond or high-strength steel is dragged over
the surface while applying pressure. The pane
of glass can be subsequently "snapped" along
this l ine. Moistening the cut aids this procedure.

Glass parameters

[kg/m3 ]

Compressive strength

[ N / mm2]

> 800

Tensile bending strength

[ N / mm2]




Mohs hardness
Vickers hardness


4.93 0.34

Modulus of elasticity

[ N / mm2]

7x1 0'

Coeff. of thermal expansion

[ 1 06K]


Thermal conductivity



Specific heat capacity



Transformation temperature



Softening temperature


7 1 0-735

Processing temperature


1 0 1 5- 1 045

B 8.3

B 8.4

B 8.5



Metal oxide


Iron oxide

FeO, Fe,0
FeO, Cr,0
Fe,03, CoO

deep blue



Nickel oxide



Manganese oxide



Copper oxide



Selenium oxide


pale red

Cobalt oxide


deep blue

Chromium oxide


light green

Silver oxide



Gold oxide



8 8.6

8 8. 7

There are two ways of fixing g lass: clamping or

bolting. The clamping method is generally pre
ferred because with suitable fixings this results
in lower stresses in the glass. If fixin g s with
bolts in drilled holes are employed, then it is
important to ensure that the glass is mounted
without any restraints. Washers help to d istrib
ute the forces at the fixings over a larger area.
Drilled holes and cut-outs must conform to m i n
imum spacing and rad i i requirements.

can be varied between 1 .5 and 12 mm. The

maximum d i mensions of single float glass
panes are approx. 3.20 x 6.00 m (fig . B 8.9) .
Today, some 95% of all flat g lass is produced
by the float glass method .
Float glass reheated to 640C or more can be
relatively easily bent over forms made from fire
resistant material.

Special types of glass for building

Heat-resistant borosilicate g lass for fire-resist

ant glazing has a higher silicon d ioxide content
and in addition contains boron trioxide (BP3) '
Quartz g lass has a high silicon content, is
especially heat-resistant, is pervious to ultra
violet radiation and is ideal for photovoltaic
modules. If lead oxide (Pb02) is mixed into the
glass melt, this produces lead glass, which
owing to its high optical density can b e used
for lenses and simi lar optical apparatus. Nor
mal, "clear" glass generally has a l i g ht green
tinge and this can be minimised by reducing
the amount of iron oxide (FeO) in the g lass melt
to produce "colourless" or extra-clear glass.
The use of metals and metal oxides to colour
glass (fig. B 8.6) has been known since ancient
times. Such oxides are introduced during the
melting process and colour the whole body of
the glass, not just the surface (body-tinted
g lass).

Glass products

As the glass products (fi g . B 8.2) depend upon

the production methods, the respective meth
ods are described below together with their
particular features.
Float glass

Float glass is a high-quality, clear g lass with a

flat surface. It is produced by floating the liquid
glass at a temperature of 1 1 OOC on a large
bath of molten tin. Being l i g hter, the g lass floats
on the surface, spreads out as far as the edges
of the bath and gradually solidifies. So-called
top rollers convey the glass out of the bath and
at the same time reg ulate the thickness, which

Cast glass

Cast g lass, more correctly called rol led g lass,

passes through pairs of cooled rollers and it is
this process that gives this type of g lass its
undulating surface. Like float glass it can also
be further processed. It is suitable for applica
tions such as greenhouses.
The rolling process also enables a wire mesh to
be incorporated (wired g lass) , which helps
bond the glass fragments together in the case
of damage. The g lass can also be g iven a pat
tern on one or both sides (patterned glass) .
Wired glass can satisfy the requirements for
fire-resistant glaz i n g .
Profiled g lass is a special form o f cast g lass.
The edges of the glass are bent through 90
during rol ling to form glass channels. This
product can carry considerable loads and is
available i n standard widths of 232, 262, 331
and 498 mm; flange sizes between 4 1 and
60 mm are possible. Profiled glass provides the
chance of producing endless ribbons of glass
with horizontal retaining profiles alone
(fi g . B 8.5).
Glass tiles are cast g lass products available in
sizes up to 640 x 7 1 5 mm, also in various col
ours. They can be used both internally and

8 8.8

Glass fibres and foam glass

G lass fleece and g lass cloth can be used to

reinforce flexible sheeting, synthetic resins,
screeds and concrete. G lass cloth is suitable as
wallpaper and for bridging over cracks. Optical
fibres of g lass are used for data transmission
and in lighting systems.
In accordance with their applications, foam
glass (cellular glass) and g lass fibre insulating
materials (glass wool) are discussed in the
chapter " I nsulating and seal ing" (p. 1 36). Capil
lary panels such as those used for transparent
thermal i nsulation consist either of cellular glass
structures, PMMA or polycarbonate (PC). These
panels are translucent, approx. 8-40 mm thick
and achieve U-values as low as 0.8 W/m2K with
a simultaneous solar energy gain (see " Insulat
ing and sealing", p. 1 40) .
Glass ceramics

A temperature change in the glass melt trans

forms this i nto a crystalline (ceramic) state and
enables the production of glass with an espe
cially low coefficient of thermal expansion. This
type of glass is resistant to high temperatures
(up to 700C) and can therefore be used for
cooker hobs or oven windows for instance.

Further processing of glass

This i ncludes working the edges, thermal treat

ment or modifying the surface of the glass by
various means.
Edge work

There are four q uality grades for working the as

cut edge (code KG) :

Pressed glass

Hollow glass blocks are produced by pressing

two glass halves together. These very hard
wearing building components can be bonded
together with mortar and exhi bit good sound
insulation properties. Pressing i s also used to
produce transparent glass roofing tiles. All
pressed glass products exhibit the typical
marks that ensue where the two parts of the
press come together.

Arrissed edges (KGS), produced by grinding

Ground edges cut exactly to size (KMG) in
which the dimensions of the glass correspond
exactly to the dimensions ordered.
Ground edges (KGN) with a matt finish.
Polished edges (KPO) have the same surface
quality as the pane of g lass itself.


Thermal treatment (toughened safety glass, heat

treated glass)

The thermal treatment involves heating the

glass to approx. 600C, then cooling the sur
face in blasts of cold air, which ind uces a pre
stress: tension in the core, compression on the
surfaces. This type of treatment reduces brittle
ness, improves crack behaviour and also
increases the tensile strength. Toughened or
heat-treated glass is therefore used for load
bearing applications (fig . B 8 . 1 1 ) .
One such type of glass is called toughened
safety glass because it breaks into small, blunt
fragments instead of large, sharp pieces when
it breaks. Toughened safety g lass exhi b its a
higher bending strength (fig . B 8 . 1 0) and better
thermal stabi l ity. If intended for use as over
head glazing or cladding to an external wal l , it
must withstand a heat-soak test (see "The
building envelope", p. 1 1 6) . The storage over
several hours at approx. 300C tests the glass
for possible inclusions that could lead to failure
once the glass is built into the structure.
The cooling process is slower in the case of
heat-treated glass. Heat-treated g lass has a
lower internal stress and it breaks into larger
pieces than toughened safety glass. However,
in contrast to toughened safety g lass, heat
treated glass in laminated form possesses a
residual load-carrying capacity.
Thin panes of glass for aircraft and lighting
units are pretreated with a chemical method in
an electrolytic bath. This method also creates a
prestress and permits loads up to six times
higher than normal glass.
Surface treatments and coatings

Surface treatments can be for purely aesthetic

reasons, but adding a coating to the surface of
the glass can also change its properties.
Enamel is a coloured glass powder that can be
melted onto the glass at approx. 700C. This
enables coloured surfaces to be produced
which, depending on the thickness of the
enamel, can vary from translucent to opaque.
Any type of pattern, sign, etc. can be produced
as required. The temperature rise during the
enamelling process creates a prestress in the
glass similar to that of toughened safety glass.
This method involves fusing coloured pieces of
glass into the surface of a single pane of glass.
Glass treated in this way is suitable for i nterior
use only. If required outside, the treated pane
must be bonded to a pane of toughened safety
glass with casting resin.
Obscuring processes
The mechanical treatments used are grinding
or sand-blasting the surface of the glass. After
this treatment the g lass is no longer transparent
and has a matt appearance (fig . B 8.8). Certain
areas can be masked in order to create pat
tems as required. Etching with hydrofluoric

acid has a similar effect, but surfaces treated in

this way do not attract so much d ust and d irt as
sand-blasted or ground surfaces. Engraving is
suitable for intermittent obscured portions.
Silk-screen printing
Silk-screen printing is used for decorating areas
of g lass. Transparent, coloured surfaces and
any form of decoration are possible (fi g . B 8 . 7 ) .
Self-cleaning glass
I n order to gain the maximum benefits from
g lass in energy terms and to reduce the cost of
cleaning the g lass, glass with self-cleaning sur
faces has been on the market for a number of
years. A coating of polymers prevents the for
mation of water droplets and this prevents d i rt
and dust adhering after the water has evapo
rated (hydroph i l i c effect) . Other coatings func
tion in a similar manner: the hydrophobic prin
ciple uses a microscopically coarse structure
to prevent the formation of a film of water (Lotus
Effect) , and a photocatalytic coating breaks
down organic residues with the help of the inci
dent solar radiation. I n doing so, catalytic rad i
cals are formed in a chemical reaction and
these destroy biological structures.

Max. producPermissible deviations

tion size;
length x width
< 2000 mm > 2000 mm







4500 x 3 1 80


6000 x 3 1 80


6000 x 3 1 80


6000 x 3 1 80


7500 x 3 1 80



9000 x 3 1 80



9000 x 3 1 80



6000 x 3 1 80


4500 x 2820


B 8.9





Ult. bend, strength



1 20




Max. permissible temp. 40

1 00

1 50



[ N /mm'}
Max. bending strength
[ N/mm'}

gradient [K}
Density [g/cm3}


Cutting ability

Optically effective coatings

Anti-reflection coatings reduce the reflection
from the g lass surface. There are two ways of
doing this. In one method several thin layers
are applied to the glass and the effect of these
is to cancel out the reflected radiation by
means of i nterference. Such coatings can be
applied for selected wavelengths. In the other
method microscopic structures embossed in a
layer of synthetic material reduce the refractive
index of the glass. In contrast to the first meth
od, such microscop i c surfaces work particular
ly wel l at shallow i ncident angles. And the total
incident solar energy is able to pass through
the g lass.
Dichroic coatings break up the incoming l i g ht
at the surface of the g lass and allow the pane
to shine i n various colours - based on interfer
ence effects.

Failure behaviour

radial cracks emanat- dice-like

ing from failure point

B 8. 1 0

B 8.6

Metal oxides for body-tinted glass

B 8.7

Glass with silk-screen printing, health spa admin.

B 8.8

Acid-etched glass, art gallery, Bregenz, Austria,

B 8.9

Nominal thicknesses, permissible deviations and

building, Bad Elster, D , 1 999, Behnisch & Partner

1 997, Peter Zumthor
maximum pane sizes for float glass
B 8. 1 0 Comparison of the physical parameters of float,
heat-treated and toughened safety glass
B 8 . 1 1 Glass beams made from laminated safety glass,
sunshading by means of baked-on ceramic ink,
Museum of Glass, Kingswinford, UK, 1 994,
Design Antenna

Laminated glass

The bonding of float, toughened safety or heat

treated g lass over its full area opens up further
possibilities for the use of glass regarding:

sound insulation
fire protection
visual design

Laminated safety glass

Lami nated safety glass is produced by bond

ing together up to six panes with polyvinyl butyl
(PVB) film. This transparent film binds the frag
ments of glass together in the case of break
age and ensures a certain residual load-carry
ing capacity. Applications range from loadB 8. 1 1





B 8 . 1 3 Louvre Pyramid, Paris, France, 1 989,
B 8 . 1 4 Comparison of heat-absorbing and solar-control
B 8 . 1 5 Adaptive glass, "R 1 29" Project, Werner Sobek


11 I

+ convection

B 8. 1 2 Schematic diagram of position and effect of

leoh Ming Pei

Light permeability








+ convection

2 3 4

Surface coating
Low-e coating for thermal insulation
Low-e coating for sun protection
Surface coating
B 8. 1 3

B 8.12

bearing (fig . B 8. 1 1 ) to bullet-resistant glazin g

depending on t h e thickness.
Fire-resistant glass

The use of aqueous gel layers as the interlayer

instead of PVB film results in laminated fire
resistant g lass. A rise in temperature causes
the gel to foam up, which makes it opaque and
therefore able to absorb heat radiation. D I N
4 1 02 d isting uishes between G-glass, which
reduces the heat radiation by 50%, and F
g lass, which must limit the temperature rise to
1 40 K on the side not exposed to the fire.
Film interlayers

The use of, for example, printed polyethylene

(PE) films i nstead of the PVB i nterlayer req uired
for laminated safety g lass leads to further
design options for architects. Very h i g h q uality
printing is possible in any colour and any inten
sity from transparent to opaque. This technique
is limited only by the width of the films availa
ble. Casting resin represents an alternative for
bonding panes together.
It is also possible to use laser imag i n g to create
holographic optical effects. Like optical devic
es such as lenses etc . , holographic optical ele
ments (HOE) can generate specific red irection,
refraction or shading of the incom i n g light.

Insulating glass

I nsulating glass consists of at least two panes

on either side of an insulating layer of gas pre
vented from escaping by a hermetic edge seal.
Such composite glazing units improve the ther
mal and sound insulating properties. All the
types of glass described above can be com
bined to form insulating glass elements. Further
division of the cavity between the panes by
means of extra glass panes or separating films
can improve the insulating properties of the
glazing still further.
The cavity is generally between 8 and 20 mm
wide. The hermetic edge seal must be
designed according to the requirements of the
gas fil l i n g . The g lued metal edge seal most
commonly used consists of a double seal, a
metal spacer and an integral dessicant.


Thermal insulation

I n comparison with s i n g l e g lazing, insulating

glazin g achieves substantially better thermal
insulation values. In physical terms, the heat
transfer through the composite g lass unit
involves three d ifferent processes:

Convection, i .e. energy transfer by means of

gas movements in the cavity
Transmission, i .e . energy transfer by means
of radiation
Heat conduction in the g lass, g lass compos
ite and cavity

Gas fillings
Noble gas fillings such as argon, xenon or
krypton improve the thermal i nsulation; com
pared with air they lower the U-value (fi g . B
8 . 1 4) . Such heavy gases reduce the effects of
convection and transmission in the cavity.
Although xenon and krypton exhi bit better ther
mal properties, argon is generally used owin g
t o its ready availability a n d the simpler produc
tion process.
Creating a vacuum in the cavity enables the
heat conduction to be reduced even further.
This requires a vacuum of about 1 0-3 bar in the
cavity. The insulating effect of the vacuum does
not depend on the spacing of the panes, which
renders possible cavities < 1 mm wide. Howev
er, as the vacuum causes the panes of glass to
deflect inwards, spacers are necessary to pre
vent them touching and hence negatin g the
insulatin g effect.
Metallic coatings of silver or titanium influence
the reflective and absorption behaviour of the
g lazing. The aim is to reflect the majority of the
infrared radiation that is re-emitted out of the
building. Such coatings reduce the emissivity
and are in principle suitable for solar control
and thermal i nsulation purposes. The spectral
emissivity denotes that part of the transmission
that penetrates a body by way of thermal emis
sion. The emissivity of float glass is 0.89.
There are three ways of applying such coat
ings. In the online method a layer of metal

oxide is appl ied to the hot surface of the g lass

d uring the manufacturing process. The offline
process (including sputtering) involves coating
the finished pane of g lass. A coating produced
in this way is less durable than an online coat
ing and is therefore immediately incorporated
in an insulating glazing unit. The physical
vapour deposition (PVD) method allows the
coating material to condense on the glass.
Heat-absorbing g lass coated with silver is
known as low-e ( low emissivity) glass and
represents the current state of the art. These
days, such g lass can be produced practically
without any colour. A low-e coating can cut the
U-value of a glass pane from 3.0 to 1 .6 W/m2K.
As the position of the coating influences the
effect of the insulating g lazing (fig. B 8 . 1 2 ) , the
g lazing units must be suitably marked to
ensure that they are installed correctly.

Heat-absorbing insulating glass

This i s an i nsulating unit with at least one heat
absorbing coating . It is normal for a heat
absorbing double g lazing unit to achieve U-val
ues of 1 .0-1 . 1 W/m 2K. Triple-glazed units with a
noble gas fi lling and two low-e coatings can
achieve U-values as low as 0.4 W/m2K.
Solar-control glass

A reflective coating on the outer pane can

lower the U-value considerably, improve the
energy transmittance and hence contribute to
controlling the amount of solar radiation enter
ing a building. The type of reflection can range
from simple mirroring to selective coating (e. g .
inverse low-e coating ) . A s c a n be seen from
fig. B 8. 1 4, it is necessary to check the colour
rendering of the g lass when using solar-control
Angle-selective coating
Metallic coatings with a optical refraction behav
iour dependent on angle represent a new devel
opment. A m icroscopically small prismatic
structure refracts the incoming light depending
on the angle of incidence. Such coatings pre
vent solar glare, but must be produced specifi
cally for the location and the corresponding
angle of incidence.


Solar-control glazing

Heat-absorbing glazing

Technical values of various

insulating glazing units

Dimensions (pane/cavity/pane) [mm]

Double glazing,

Triple glazing,

Double glazing,

one pane coated

two panes coated

one pane coated

4-1 5-4

4-1 2-4-1 2-4

6-1 6-4

normal emission ,; 0.05

6-1 6-4
colourless 1

6-1 6-4

normal emission ,; 0.05





Cavity filling (gas concentration ;, 90%)





blue 1




1 .5

1 .2

1 .1



1 .1

1 .1

1 .1










Light permeability 1











Light reflection


[ %]





1 1 /1 2 2

1 0/33 2

9/ 1 2 2








96/94 2

95/70 2

86/88 2

U-value to EN ISO 1 0077-1

Total energy transmittance

Colour rendering 1

Typical manufacturers' data

2 Values valid for inside/outside

B 8.14

Adaptive glazing
Variable coatings will be available for further
applications in the future, particularly for intelli
gent facades (fig. B 8. 1 5) . These coatings
change - either automatically or by using suit
able controls - from a light- and rad i ation-per
meable to a light-deflecting, shading or reflect
ing state.
Electrochromic coatings consist of an approx.
1 mm thick polymer film containing certain
metal oxides such as tungsten oxide (W0 ) ,
nickel oxide ( N iO) or iridium oxide ( I r0 2) . The
total energy transmittance of the glass is reg u
lated by applying an electric current, which
switches the glass between a transparent and
a deep-blue state. After switching off the cur
rent the latter state remains for a limited period
(1-24 hours) . The coating achieves a reduction
in the energy transmittance of max. 20%. Elec
trochromic g lass is suitable for shading and
anti-glare appl ications.
Liquid crystals can be aligned upon applying
an electric current and therefore switched from
a light-scattering, non-transparent state to a
transparent state. However, owing to their sen
sitivity to temperature, liquid crystals have so
far only been used internally for variable priva
cy screens. Micro-encapsulated liquid crystals,
which create a minimal obscuration of the
glass, can vary the l i g ht transmission value
between 0.48 and 0.76.
Gasochromic g lazing represents yet another
development. A coating of tungsten oxide
(W0 ) changes to a blue colour due to an inlay
of catalytically generated hydrogen and loses
this colour again when air is introduced. The
coating enables the light transmission value to
be varied between 1 5 and 60% . A gas supply
capable of regulating an area of up to 1 0 m2 is
required for operation.
Phototropic and thermotropic g lasses do not
require any form of control. The variabil ity of the
phototropic glass is based on metal ions (e.g.
silver ions) and the glass is regulated depend
ing on the ultraviolet radiation. Thermotropic
glass is based on a mixture of two substances
that segregate above a certain temperature.
The glass then scatters the incoming light and
appears translucent.

Fittings in the cavity

Glazing with rigid or movable fittings in the cav
ity between the panes can satisfy further
requirements with respect to thermal insulation,
shading and aesthetics. However, it should be
remembered that external pressure conditions
d uring certain types of weather can cause the
panes to deflect. It is therefore necessary to
g uarantee sufficient clearance between the fit
tings and the g lass.
Light redirection, sunshading, anti-glare
Rigid or movable - with electric or mechanical
drive - aluminium louvres can be fitted in the
cavity. The surface of the louvres can be opti
mised to red i rect the light; for instance, rigid
reflective louvres are often triangular in shape
with each side having a concave form. The
incoming l i ght causes no glare provided the
geometry has been chosen correctly; however,
an unobstructed view through the window - in
either direction - is no longer possible.
Retro-Iouvres are very sma l l , folded, rigid
blinds. Thanks to their ingenious geometry,
they enable a good view through the window,
achieve good light-redirection characteristics
but also provide shad i n g .
Besides movable a n d r i g i d systems i n the cavi
ty, it i s also possi ble to i nstall any material
whose degree of perforation determines the

energy transmission a n d t h e view through the

window. The possibil ities are almost limitless:
perforated sheet metal, woven metal meshes,
wooden bars, etc.
Sound insulation

Heavy gases, e . g . sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) ,

argon and krypton, also improve the sound
insulation properties of i nsulating glazing com
pared to a filling of air. The following parame
ters can also improve sound insulation:

heavy panes (high inertia)

different pane thicknesses (avoidance of
resonance effects)
inclusion of PVB films (mass-spring-mass
wide cavity

B 8.15


Synthetic materials

B 9. 1

B 9.1

The production of synthetic materials began in

the middle of the 1 9th century with the chemi
cal conversion of natural , organic raw materi
als. Following an experimental phase, it became
possible to improve specific properties of the
materials in such a way that it was gradually
possible to replace trad itional products. The
chemical cross-linking (vulcanisation) of rubber
latex from the rubber tree to form rubbery elas
tic natural rubber marked the beginning of the
rubber industry.
Cellu loid , a conversion product made from
nitrocellulose and camphor, is regarded as the
first thermoplastic material. It was used as a
transparent backing for the l i ght-sensitive lay
ers needed for photography.
U p until the end of the 1 9th century the produc
tion of these synthetic products required regen
erative raw materials. A chemical analysis
reveals the carbon atom in the molecules to be
the central, common element, which is added
together to create the long chains that form the
foundation for the structure of organic products.
The application of this knowledge led in 1 898
to the production of the first ful ly synthetic mate
rial from a combination of phenol (obtained from
coal tar) and formaldehyde.
Without fillers, phenolic resin is as clear as
g lass. But mixed with fi l lers and pressed into
moulds at high temperatures it provided the
emerg ing electrical industry with a heat-resist
ant, non-meltin g , non-conductive material for
housings and insulation. This, the first thermo-

setting plastic, first appeared in 1 909 and was

called Bakelite.
Fundamental to the production of plastics is the
fact that individual low-molecular units (mono
mers) combine under suitable conditions to
form macromolecules (polymers) in a chemical
reaction known as synthesis.
By 1 940 the plastics industry had devised
methods for the large-scale production of most
of the plastics we know today. The numerous
combination options of various units and the
further processing result in tailored materials
such as foamed plastics, synthetic fibres or
These synthetic materials were i nitially used in
the electrical engineering and automotive
industries, but started to appear in the building
industry from the 1 960s onwards - also for larger
components. Since then, architects have dem
onstrated the efficiency of synthetic materials
for load bearing shell structures, facade clad
ding or, for example, the translucent panels to
the roof of the Olympic Stadium in Munich (fig .
B 9. 1 ) . Today, synthetic products can be found
in all branches of building ; either exposed e . g .
as a floor covering or facade element, or con
cealed, e . g . as waterproofing sheeting, insula
tion or building services.

B 9.2

B 9.3

Tent roof covered with PMMA panels, Olympic

Stadium, Munich, Germany, 1 972, Gunter
Behnisch + Partner, Frei Olto and others

B 9.2

"Blow" PVC armchair assembled using seam

welding, Italy, 1 967, Carla Scolari, Donato
D'Urbino, Paolo Lomazzi, G ionatan d e Pas

B 9.3

"Connexion skin", pneumatic balloon made from

PVC film assembled using seam weldin9, Austria,
1 968, Haus-Rucker-Co

B 9.4

Youth centre, Gironde, France, 1 994,

Lacaton & Vassal


Synthetic materials

Chemical structure of synthetic materials

The fossil raw materials petroleum, natural gas

and coal were formed by the decomposition of
organic substances. Over m i l l ions of years,
carbon (C) and hydrogen (H) accumulated on
the seabed under the action of heat and pres
Petroleum consists of hydrocarbon molecu les
whose boiling point rises as the length of the
chain increases. The d istillation of petroleum in
the refinery separates the molecular chains
with their different lengths into ind ividual frac
tions such as gas, petrol, diesel and heavy o i l .
In the so-called cracking process unsaturated
- and hence reactive - hydrocarbons are pro
duced from the lightweight petrol (naphtha)
obtained in the d istil lation process. Those
hydrocarbons include the low-molecular gases
ethylene and propylene, which are the most
important raw materials for the manufacture of
synthetic materials. Today, they can also be
obtained from regenerative raw materials but
only at great cost.
Besides carbon and hydrogen, synthetic mate
rials - depending on type - contain further
chemical elements such as oxygen (0) , chlo
rine (Cl ) , fluorine (F) , sulphur (S) , s i l i con (Si)
and nitrogen ( N ) .

The following features are characteristic of the

majority of synthetic materials, even if their
properties are sometimes very specific: low
density, low thermal conductivity, high coeffi
cient of thermal expansion, high tensile
strength, low modulus of elasticity, narrow con
tinuous service temperature range, good elec
trical insulation capabil ity, resistance to water
and many chemicals, inflammabi l ity, ageing
caused by ultraviolet radiation (unless add itives
are used), brittleness at low temperatures.

Homopolymers consist of identical monomers,

e . g . polyethylene (PE) , polystyrene (PS) or poly
vinyl chloride (PVC).
Copolymerisation i s the reaction between d is
parate monomer units, which enables the prop
erties of the synthetic materials to be varied
even further. Copolymers with linear macromol
ecules include, for example, styrene acryloni
trile (SAN) and styrene-butadiene rubber
Step polymerisation
Step polymerisation is achieved through the
reaction of monomers with reactive groups usually hydroxyl (-OH) or amino groups (-NH2)
- to form macromolecu les. In doing so, low
molecular molecules, usually water (HP) , are
given off. The reaction is based on an equilibri
um, which allows the reaction to be controlled.
Step polymers with l i near macromolecu lar
structures are, for example, polyamide (PA) ,
polycarbonate (PC) and polyester (PET) , those
with a cross-l inked structure include, for exam
ple, phenol-formaldehyde resins (PF) .
Chain polymerisation
The basic principles of chain polymerisation
are very similar to those of step polymerisation:
different monomers form macromolecules
through reactive groups; however, in this case
without g iving off low-molecular by-products.
The ensuing products are classified according
to their chemical structure, e.g. as polyurethanes
(PUR) or epoxy resins (EP).

The so-called polymer blends or alloys occupy

a special position. These are blends of at least
two complete thermoplastics, the aim being to
benefit from the properties of both polymers,
e . g . ABS + PC.
Classification according to the macromolecular

The diverse range of synthetic products can be

classified according to the method of synthesis
or according to the molecular structure. Both
forms of classification allow conclusions to be
drawn regarding the nature of the raw materials
used and the mechanical-thermal properties of
the product.

I rrespective of the method of synthesis, there

are three groups of synthetic materials classi
fied according to the structure of the ind ividual
macromolecu les and hence the possible
arrangement withi n the polymer microstructure
(fi g . B 9 . 7 ) . The degree of cross-l inking
between the macromolecu les, which i nfluences

the fundamental properties of the synthetic

materia l , is the governing criterion for this clas
The macromolecules of the amorphous thermo
plastics, e . g . polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) ,
consist of l i near molecular chains that tangle
around themselves but do not form any chemi
cal bonds with each other.
Amorphous thermoplastics are as transparent
as glass and hard and brittle at room tempera
ture. Partially crystalline thermoplastics such as
polyamide (PA) also exhi b it orderly, so-called
crystalline, regions in addition to the tangled
reg ions, which contribute to the better strength
of such materials. As the degree of crystallisa
tion increases, so the transparency decreases.
Physical bonding forces hold the macromole
cules together.
As the tem perature rises, so the bonding forces
decrease and the flexibility of the i n d ividual
chains increases, which allows the properties
of the thermoplastics to gradually change from
hard to thermoelastic to thermoplastic. The
process ( e . g . melting) is reversible and can
also be achieved with certain solvents. It is this
characteristic that al lows the thermoplastics to
be readily mou lded, machined and recycled.
Elastomers consist of cross-linked low-density
molecular chains. Upon forming they are joined
together chemically (vulcanisation) and cannot
be separated again by applying heat, and
therefore cannot melt. Solvents cause them to
swell up. At service temperatures elastomers
exhi bit a rubbery elastic behaviour and break
down irreversibly at certain temperatures, e . g .
elastomers o n the basis o f styrene-butadiene
rubber (SBR).
Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) such as PUR
or SBS block copolymers have similar proper
ties to elastomers. However, they exhi b it physi
cal i nstead of chemical cross-linking and can
thus be processed l i ke thermoplastics.
The high-density, three-dimensional cross-link
ing characteristic of thermosets comes about

Classification according to the method of synthesis

We distinguish between three methods for pro

ducing synthetic materials. In these processes
reactive monomers are combined through
chemical reactions to form chain-like, branch
ing or cross-linked macromolecules.
Pressure, heat, light, initiators and catalysts ini
tiate the polymerisation. The covalent bonds of
the monomers break up and the i n d ividual units
combine to form l i near molecular chains with
out giving off any by-products. The external
conditions influence the length of the chain and
the degree of interlocking among the molecular

B 9.4


Synthetic materials

as they are formed with pressure, heat or hard

eners. After forming, the i nfusible thermosets
can only be machined. They are hard and brit
tle, insoluble in organic solvents and have the
highest thermoforming resistance of the three
groups of plastics. Their mechanical properties
improve in conjunction with fibres or fillers.
Reaction resins such as epoxy resins (EP) ,
polyurethane resins (PUR) and unsaturated
polyester resins (UP) in the form of casting res
ins or moulding compounds form the basis
(matrix) for fibre composites.


The manufacture of monomers and their further

processing to form polymers is carried out on a
large industrial scale. This i n dustry supplies the
pure synthetic materials in the form of granular
material (pellets) to the product manufacturers.
These then mix add itives homogeneously into
the synthetic materials in the so-called com
pounding process. Afterwards comes the form
ing process to form the semi-finished or final


Besides the degree of polymerisation (length of

chai n), degree of crystallisation and degree of
branching/cross-linking of the synthetic mole
cules, it is the additives that have a considera
ble i nfluence on the properties of the synthetic

B 9.5

Macromolecular structures of synthetic materials:

a Tangling in amorphous thermoplastics
b Low-density cross-linking in elastomers
c High-density cross-linking in thermosets

B 9.6

Polycarbonate rooflights used as a facade ele

ments, ads 1a gallery, Cologne, Germany,


b & k+


Systematic classification of synthetic materials

according to macromolecular structure and
method of synthesis

Fillers in the form of particles, fibres or beads
made from organic or inorganic substances are
used in thermosets as extenders, for i mproving
the surface finish and for reducing the brittle
ness. They can also influence the flowin g prop
erties and the shrinkage of thermoplastics. The
industry uses fillers such as cellulose, wood
d ust, stone dust, chalk, kaolin or g lass beads .
Reinforcing materials
Reinforcing materials are used to improve the
rigidity, strength and thermoforming resistance.
Glass fibres (GF) , carbon fibres (CF) and ara
mid fibres (AF) reinforce the synthetic materials
in the form of meshes, non-woven fabrics or
rovings in roofl i ghts, waterproofin g , vessels or
I nsoluble colorants (pigments) dye the whole
body of the synthetic material opaque. Soluble
colorants are used in transparent, dyed syn
thetic materials.
The add ition of stabilisers can help to counter
act the damage sometimes caused by heat,
light and ultraviolet radiation. Besides its use as
a pigment, carbon black also increases the UV
radiation stability of many synthetic materials.

B 9.6


Plasticisers i ncrease the flexibility and hence
also the impact toughness. Hard and brittle
synthetic materials can thus be transformed
into flexible materials. We distinguish between
two types of plasticisation: external plasticisa
tion is achieved by adding viscous, Iow-molec
u lar substances which slip between the molec
ular chains of the synthetic material , reduce the
physical attraction forces and thus increase the
flexibility of the molecular chains. As in this
case the plasticiser is not chemically bonded
with the synthetic material, in principle it can
leach out, or be exuded, or over a long time in
contact with another synthetic material can
m ig rate to this other material. The original syn
thetic material thereby loses its flexibility and
becomes brittle.
I nternal p lasticisation increases the spacing of
the molecular chains chemically through copoly
merisation and therefore increases the flexibility
of the chain segments. I nternal plasticisation is
virtually inert to external effects.
Flame retardants
The objective of flame retardants is to reduce
the combustibility of synthetic materials. I n
physical terms they bring about cooling o r pro
vide a coating in the event of a fire, or - in
chemical terms - form a layer of ash, or prevent
the oxidation of combustible gases.
Blowing agents
Blowing agents create foams from synthetic
materials. In the foaming process, blowing
agents such as hig hly volatile fluids or com
pressed gases are allowed to expand. In the
chemical foaming process chemical reactions
form gases (blowing agents) which then
expand the polymers. Non-halogen blowing
agents are now standard (see " I nsulating and
sealing", p. 1 37 ) .
Forming methods

The initial form i n g of semi-finished products or

moulded parts from the basic synthetic materi
als in powder, pellet or liquid form is known as
"primary forming". In the case of thermoplastics
the forming process is reversible owing to the
physical entanglement. The melted pellets
retain their form and cool down to the solid
state. In thermosetting polymers a chemical
cross-linking takes place during the irreversible
forming process during which the thermoset
ting properties ensue. Elastomers are irreversi
ble after the forming process, but have a low
density cross-linked structure produced by, for
example, vulcanisation (fig . B 9.5) .
The extruder turns the liquid thermoplastic syn
thetic compound into PVC, PE, PM MA or PC
sections, profiles, p ipes, boards, sheets, films,
tubes and hoses in a continuous process. In a
second stage, e . g . blow moulding, a section of
tube, for instance, can be blown into a negative
mould before cool i n g .

Synthetic materials

Synthetic materials



no cross-linking

high-density cross-linking


Step polymerisation

Step polymerisation

Chain polymerisation


Polyamides (PA)


Cross-linked poly

Elastomers o n the basis


polypropylene (PP)

Polycarbonate (PC)

urea-formaldehyde resins (UF)

urethanes (PUR)


elastomers (TPU)

styrene-butadiene rubber

Polyester elastomers



polyethylene (PE)

melamine resins (MF)


Linear polyester:

melamine-phenolic resins (MP)

polyethylene (PE-HO)

polyethylene terephtha

resorcinol resins (RF)

butadiene rubber (BR)


late (PET)

& blends

chloroprene rubber (CR)

Epoxy resins (EP)

polyethylene (PE-LD)
polyisobutylene (PI B)

Chain polymerisation

Elastomers on


polyolefin basis:


rubber / butyl rubber ( I I R)


phenolic resins (PF)

chlorosulphonated poly

copolymer (EVAC)

Polyvinyl chlorides (PVC):

ethylene (CSM)

unplasticised (PVC-U)

Linear polyurethanes

Unsaturated polyester resins


plasticised (PVC-P)



rubber (EPOM)

Polystyrene (PS)
expanded polystyrene



Semi-synthetic materials

Polysulphone (PSU)

ethylene copolymer (ETFE)

Polyoxymethylene (POM)

Ethylene copolymer

Polyacrylonitrile (PAN)

bitumen (ECB)

Polymethyl methacrylate

Styrene acrylonitrile (SAN)



Silicones (SI)


styrene copolymer (ABS)

Nitrocellulose (CN)



Polyvinyl acetate (PVAC)

Cellulose acetate (CA)

fibres (VF)

Natural rubber (NR)

B 9. 7

A succession of rolls can turn thermoplastics or
rubbers into sheet material. During this process
it is also possible to profile the surface and
incorporate a textile inlay. Floor coverings and
waterproofing sheeting made from PVC or poly
olefins can be produced using this method .
Injection moulding
The mass production of articles - but also small
moulded parts - made from thermoplastics,
thermosets and elastomers is possible with in
jection moulding. The synthetic material is in
jected into moulds under high pressure where
it cools or cures. This method can also be used
to interlock several plastic components.
The moulding compound made from thermo
setting resins is poured into the die and com
pressed at a high temperature so that the
molecular chains cross-link to form a thermo
set. A lamination press is used for manufactur
ing facings for boards and panels from backing
sheets saturated with thermosetting resin.
Thick-walled panels or foamed semi-finished
products made from PS or PP (thermoplastics)
are obtained by cooling after pressing.
Rotational moulding
Almost all thermoplastics are suitable for rota
tional moulding . Rotation causes the fluid syn
thetic compound to spread over the outside of
the mould, which is rotated about various axes.
This method is used to manufacture recepta
cles for transport and storage.

Plastic forming
Only semi-finished products made from ther
moplastics (e. g . panels, sections, pipes) are
suitable for plastic forming. Once heated to a
suitable temperature they can be bent, stretch
formed in a vacuum or deep-drawn. However,
the new shape must be maintained until the
product has fully cooled, otherwise the part
returns to its former shape.
Only semi-finished products made from ther
moplastics (e.g. panels, sections, pipes) are
suitable for plastic forming. Once heated to a
suitable temperature they can be bent, stretch
formed in a vacuum or deep-drawn. However,
the new shape must be maintained until the
product has fully cooled, otherwise the part
returns to its former shape.
Health hazards

Fully processed, pure synthetic materials are

harmless when used properly. Even the manu
facture, further processing or installation of syn
thetic materials does not represent an increased
health risk when carried out properly and pro
vided the numerous reg ulations of the authori
ties, e . g . the limits for concentrations of sub
stances in the air or the technical directive for
hazardous substances, are adhered to.
Toxic compounds such as dioxins or furans
can ensue during a fire. The halogen com
pounds often used as flame retardants in some
synthetic materials contribute to this problem
(see "Glossary", p. 268 ) .


The plastic waste that occurs during produc

tion is generally returned to the material lifecy
cle because it satisfies the conditions for reus
ing the material: it is pure, clean and has not
yet aged. There is no need for a complex and
expensive collection system.
There are basically four options for recycling
plastic waste:
Reusing the products
Identical components in large batches plus
compatibil ity guaranteed through standardised
forms and dimensions ease the reuse of plas
tics. This i s the case, for example, with returna
ble bottles or moulded parts for the automotive
industry. In the building industry only PVC win
dow frames have been reused to date, and this
only on a small scale. Enormous potential lies
in expanding this system to include other com
ponents such as facade panels or insulation by
employing standardised sizes.
Reusing the materials
This involves the mechanical preparation of
used plastics to form directly reusable ground
materials. The chemical structure remains unal
tered during this process.
Viable reuse of synthetic materials requires an
abundance of clean, sorted, plastic scrap cou
pled with minimal logistics requirements. This is
the case, for i nstance, with commercial p lastic
waste or PVC windows and pipes from private
household s . As a rule, the reuse of materials
leads to a loss of q uality.


Synthetic materials

Reusing the raw materials

To do this it is necessary to break down the
polymer chains of the synthetic materials using
heat and solvents. The ensuing prod ucts are
petrochemical su bstances such as o i l s and
gases which can be used to manufacture new
synthetic materials or even for other purposes.
This method also works with unsorted , soiled
plastic waste.
Reusing for energy purposes
Plastics scrap and waste containing plastics
have a high calorific value owing to their high
carbon content. If they are unsuitable for recy
cling processes to extract the materials or raw
materials, they may be burned instead of fossil
fuels for energy generation in appropriate incin
eration plants. Thi s is frequently a rational
option from both the ecological and economic

Synthetic materials in building

Alongside the packagings industry, the build

ing industry is one of the most important cus
tomers for products made from synthetic mate
rials, accounting for about 20% of the output of
the plastics industry. A selection of the synthetic
materials used in building is given below,
arranged in the order thermoplastics , thermo
sets, elastomers and composite systems.
Fig. B 9 . 1 3 l ists possible applications.

8 9.8

U n plasticised PVC (PVC-U) is hard and brittle.

The add ition of plasticisers modify the material
to form p lasticised PVC (PVC-P). PVC can be
manufactured in clear transparent, coloured
transparent or opaque forms. It does not ignite
easily and burns only with difficulty owing to its
high chlorine content.
Polystyrene (PS) - thermoplastic

Polystyrene is clear l ike glass, has a high sur

face gloss and is relatively brittle. Only by add
ing UV-radiation stabilisers does it become
hardweari n g . Solvent-based adhesives achieve
a good joint by partly d i ssolving the surface.
Foaming produces expanded (EPS) or extrud
ed (XPS) polystyrene, both of which are wel l
known a s thermal and sound insulation materials.

Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) - thermoplastic

Better known by its trade names, e . g . Perspex,

this material has very good optical qual ities
and a high scratch resistance. In many instanc
es it can be used as a substitute for glass. Its
high coefficient of thermal expansion must be
taken into account, and unrestrained changes
of length must be possible in the installed con
dition. The following products are made from
PMMA: clear transparent and coloured sheets,
double-walled panels, rooflights and splinter
proof panes.
Polymers containing fluorine (PTFE/ETFE) thermoplastics

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and ethylene

tetrafluoroethylene copolymer (ETFE) both

Polyethylene (PE) - thermoplastic

Polyethylene is one of the polyolefins and con

sists entirely of hydrocarbons. We d istinguish
between high-density (PE-HO) and Iow-density
(PE-LD) polyethylene. Polyethylene is an inex
pensive, easily worked plastic and comes in
forms from rigid to soft depending on the degree
of crystallisation and polymerisation. In the form
of a thin film, polyethylene is almost as clear as
glass, but otherwise has a m i l ky white appear
ance. It can be dyed any colour and i s very easy
to join by wel d i n g . The applications in build ing
i nclude drinking water and waste water p i pes,
sheets for waterproofing and protecting, and
floor coverings (see "Floors", p . 1 81 ) .
Polypropylene (PP) - thermoplastic

The properties and applications of polypropyl

ene - also one of the polyolefins - are similar to
those of polyethylene. This synthetic material
resists ageing without additives. Owing to its
particularly high chemical resistance, its adhe
sive qualities are poor.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) - thermoplastic

The outstanding properties of PVC such as

chemical resistance, mechanical strength, mul
tiple machining options and adjustability with
regard to flexib i l ity and impact toughness make
it suitable for use in many areas, e . g . waste
water p i pes, window frames, rooflights, corru
gated sheets, facade elements, waterproofing
and floor coverings.
8 9. 1 0


Synthetic materials

B 9.8

Coloured paper laminated with melamine resin,

private house, Bad Waltersdorf, Austria, 2004,

B 9.9

Translucent corrugated PVC sheets, workshop,

Madrid, Spain, 2004, Garcia Abril

B 9. 1 0 "Falter", National Garden Exhibition, Kassel , Ger

many, 1 955, Frei Olto
B 9.1 1 Glass fibre-reinforced polyester resin, Forum Soft
Pavilion, Yverdon-Les-Bains, Switzerland, 2002,
Team Extasia
B 9. 1 2 Glass fibre-reinforced polycarbonate, canopy,
Kassel, Germany, 2005, Hegger Hegger Schleiff
B 9.13 Possible applications for synthetic materials
according to consumption (selection)

exhibit excellent chemical resistance. They are

l ight-fast without the addition of UV-radiation
protection, virtually self-cleani n g , exhibit excel
lent thermal stability and incombustible. How
ever, they are hydrophobic (and that makes
them difficult to bond with adhesives) . Pneu
matic, translucent constructions often make
use of ETFE film, whereas PTFE is processed to
form membranes in conjunction with textiles or
as a coating to textiles.
Epoxy resins (EP) - thermosets

The addition of a hardener causes the fluid or

viscous molecules of the epoxy resins to cross
link and form a thermosetting material. The
strength and impact toughness varies depend
ing on the fillers used, the degree of cross-link
ing and whether fibre reinforcement has been
incorporated. Coatings, adhesives and fibre
composites are produced from epoxy resins.

B 9. 1 1

B 9. 1 2

adhesives for joining glass, metals, ceramics

and plastics can be made from s i l i cones.

shells) make u s e of reinforcement made from

g lass fibres (GF), carbon fibres (CF) and ara
mid fibres (AF) . The latter two exhi bit very high
tensile strengths but are seldom used owing to
their high price.
The quantity of non-woven fabrics, meshes,
textiles and rovings i ncorporated l ies between
20 and 75% by mass.
The combinations and the proportions of the
individual components, the direction of the
fibres, the elongation of the matrix at failure and
the adhesion between fibres and matrix deter
mine the properties of the composite material.

Fibre composites

Embedding fibres in synthetic materials im

proves their mechan ical properties. Fi bre com
posite systems consist of a base (matrix) of
curing resins or thermoplastics plus a fibre
material which is responsible for high strength,
rigidity and thermal stability. The designations
for fibre-reinforced plastics (FRP) are given in
the order fibre-matrix, e . g . glass fibre-reinforced
polyester resin (GF-UP) .
The thermosetting materials suitable for use as
a matrix are unsaturated polyester resins (UP) ,
epoxy resins (EP) and cross-linked polyurethanes
(PUR) in the form of casting resins. Among the
thermoplastics, polypropylene (PP) is just one
of those that can be used for fibre composites.
The building components with load bearing
functions (e.g. structural sections, roofli ghts,

Synthetic materials made from regenerative raw


Owing to the enormous quantities of non

degradable waste generated, our finite fossil
resources and the high carbon d ioxide concen
trations in the atmosphere, attempts are being
made to produce synthetic materials from

Styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) - elastomer

Owing to its extremely high wearing resistance,

rubbery elastic behaviour and resistance to
chemicals, SBR is ideal for floor coverings,
waterproofing sheeting, seals and cable



Silicones (SI)

Silicones possess simi lar features to plastics.

However, instead of carbon atoms, inorganiC
silicon atoms are responsible for forming the
molecules. Owing to their chemical structure,
silicones are designated as polysiloxanes (sili
con-oxygen chains) , which exhi bit organic
substituents (alkyl, vinyl and pheny l ) . On a
commercial scale they are produced exclusive
ly through polyreactions (e. g . step polymerisa
tion) of low-molecular, sil icon organic com
pounds. Depending on the length of the mole
cule, this creates oily, resin- or rubber-type
substances with outstanding resistance to high
and low temperatures.
The hydrophobic (water-repellent) behaviour of
the silicone products and their consistent elas
ticity during temperature fluctuations is exploit
ed in sealing tapes and joint sealants made
from siloxane elastomer (formerly silicone rub
ber). Silicone resins are processed to form
coatings and impregnations. I n addition , elastic

Applications of synthetic materials

according to consumption













Polyethylene (PE)

Polypropylene (PP)

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

Polystyrene (PS)






o> E
. :;:
0 06
e o>
o. c
", 0)
5 -55





o> m
en c
5 :9.
:g0) m


Polycarbonate (PC)





Epoxy resins (EP)

Styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR)

Chloroprene rubber (CR)

Ethylene-propylene-diene rubber (EPDM)


Silicone (SI)
0 moderate consumption




Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)

high consumption



Polyester resins (UP)



Polymethyl methacrylate (PM MA)

Polyurethane (PUR)


ID _
c en
0) -

. Iow consumption

1 reinforced with glass fibre

8 9. 1 3


Synthetic materials

B 9.14
B 9 . 1 4 Bonded glass, prototype o f a frame-less, self
supporting glass shell made from 44 elements,
Stuttgart, Germany, 2004, Lucio Blandini,
Werner Sobek
B 9 . 1 5 a-d Biodegradable plastic
B 9 . 1 6 Physical parameters of selected synthetic
B 9. 1 7 a-b Self-supporting elements made from glass
fibre-reinforced plastic insulated with poly
urethane foam, Futuro House, Finland, 1 968,
Matti Suuronen

regenerative raw materials. G lucose is ob

tained from p lants rich in starch such as maize,
cereals, sugar beets or potatoes. A fermentation
process turns the g lucose i nto lactic acid and a
step polymerisation reaction in the next stage
generates polymers from the lactic acid, e . g .
polyactide (PLA) o r polyhydroxybuterate (PHB) .
Mixed with additives, the properties of these
"organic" plastics can be varied enormously:
tough, viscous, biologically degradable or
long-lasting. The properties and applications of
transparent PLA are very simi lar to convention
al thermoplastic materials such as polystyrene
(PS) , polypropylene (PP) or polyethylene (PE ) .
So far i t has been used for foodstuffs packag
i n g , for films and pots in agriculture, and for
coatings to paper and cardboard composites.
The ongoing development of such synthetic
materials will undoubtedly lead to a significant
increase in the number of applications.

Applications for synthetic materials

The manufacturers of plastic products exploit not unlike a modu lar system - the specific pro
perties of a synthetic material, the forming
methods and the machining options i n order to
produce a tailor-made material for a correspond
ing range of applications. The same product is
often available made from d ifferent synthetic
materials. Users can then choose the best
value for their money. This is reflected in the
applications relevant to building (fi g . B 9. 1 3) :
Load bearing components:
shells, sections
I nternal fitting-out, furniture:
floor coverings, wall finishes, partitions
Building envelope:
facade elements, rooflights, ribbon windows,
roof waterproofin g , membranes
Building services:
drinking water and waste water pipes
Binders for organ ic and inorganic substanc
es, coatings
Thermal and sound insulation
Building preservation
Solar collectors
B 9. 1 5



According to D I N 1 6 920 adhesives are non

metallic substances that join together work
pieces by means of surface adhesion and
internal cohesion.
If two surfaces were to be produced perfectly
flat and even - atomically perfect -, then the
mutual attraction forces of the individual mole
cules would be adequate to bond both surfac
es together. Adhesives simu late this principle.
They create the contact between two not per
fectly flat and even surfaces with the help of the
aforementioned attraction forces. In the case of
smooth workpieces it i s necessary to roughen
the surfaces mechanically or chemically in
order to increase the surface area to which the
molecules can bond. Basically, as the thick
ness of adhesive increases, so the elasticity of
the bonded joint i ncreases and its strength
The material properties of the materials to be
bonded demand the use of an appropriate
adhesive. Porous materials such as wood,
paper or textiles absorb the adhesive, which
can lead to flaws in the joint but results in faster
curi n g . Dense materials generally require
adhesives with reactive curing processes that
normally create a bond with a higher adhesive
strength. As a rule, we d istinguish adhesives
accord ing to their uses, e . g . according to form
(liquid, sol i d ) , applications (wood, plastics,
g lass, metals) or the processing temperature.
Types of adhesive

Although almost all materials can be g lued

together, there is a complex relationshi p
between type o f adhesive, joint geometry,
materials to be joined and loading. The manu
facturers can supply suitably designed adhe
sives that unfold their adhesive effect through
the following curing mechanisms: without a
chemical reaction the solvent evaporates or the
adhesive cools to become solid; with a chemi
cal reaction low-molecular constituents in the
adhesive form high-molecular adhesive sub
stances after applying the adhesive to the
mating faces.

Synthetic materials

Synthetic material


Tensile strength Modulus of





at tear






Service &




91 0-930



300-1 000






1 8-35

700-1 400

1 00-1 000


1 50-1 80

80/1 1 0

900-91 0

2 1 -37

1 1 00-1300

20- 800


1 1 0-1 70

1 00/ 1 40

1 70-400


1 50-2 1 0


1 0-50





Polyvinyl chloride


1 1 60-1350


25-1 600


1 380-1550


1 000-3500



1 050







Polymethyl metacrylate (Perspex)


1 1 70-1 200






90/ 1 00



1 200


2 1 00-2400

1 00-130

0. 1 8


1 35 / 1 60

Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon)


2 1 50-2200





1 00-200

1 50/200



1 050





1 0-20

1 00 / 1 30

85/ 1 00

Epoxy resins


1 300



2-1 0


Polyester resins


1 200





1 40


80/130 to 200
80/ 1 20

Glass fibre-reinforced
polyester resins; glass fleece (GF) 30% by mass

1 400



,; 1




polyester resins; glass cloth 40% by mass

1 500

1 30





polyester resins; glass cloth 60% by mass

1 700


1 9 000

,; 1
,; 1




Styrene-butadiene rubber


Chloroprene rubber (Neoprene)


Ethylene-propylene-diene rubber


900-1 200





to 1 00





1 00 / 1 20






1 20 / 1 50

1 250-1900

4-1 0

1 00-500



1 80/230

1 420



8 9. 1 6

Hot-melt adhesives
In a hot-melt adhesive the layer of adhesive
cools or cures after being applied. Adhesives
made from polyvinyl acetate (PVAC) or poly
isobutylene (PI B) cool physically, epoxy resins
(EP), melamine resins (MF) and phenolic resins
(PF) cure chemically.
Water-based, organic glue solutions, e . g . on a
PVAC basis, and g lues on a protein or carbo
hydrate basis, cure physically through the
evaporation of the water.
Dispersion adhesives
Acrylates or copolymers such as polyvinyl ace
tate (PVAC) are finely dispersed in water and
form a homogeneous film of adhesive after the
dispersion medium has evaporated.
Solvent adhesives
These consist of organic solvents which partly
dissolve the adhesive and also the workpieces
and hence enhance the bon d . Solvent bond i n g
with solvents uses dissolved synthetic surface
coatings as an inherent adhesive, e . g . for roof
ing felt.

Contact adhesives
Contact adhesives are spread over the surfac
es to be bonded. After both layers of adhesive
have dried , the adhesive effect depends on the
strength of the once-only contact pressure. The
film of adhesive based on polyisobutylene (PI B)
or chloroprene rubber (CR) remains rubbery
Reaction resin adhesives
The reaction resin adhesives can be d ivided
into three groups;

Step polymerisation resins based on formal

dehyde cure under the action of pressure
and heat.
One-part adhesives contain one component
that triggers a chemical reaction only at high
Two-part adhesives, e . g . based on poly
urethane or epoxy resins, basically consist of
a reaction resin that must be mixed with a
hardener before using. The hardener pro
duces the cross-linking.

8 9. 1 7


Life cycle assessments

"The question of efficient use of existing resour

ces p lays a key role in the area of sustainable
construction . Whereas numerous measures for
reducing the heating energy requirements of
buildings have already found their way i nto
everyday design and planning activities, this i s
not yet t h e case with respect t o the potential
offered by an intelligent choice of materials.
Alongside the aesthetic, functional and eco
nomic criteria, the ecological effects of materi
als and designs are i gnored or underestimated
when making decisions. The reason for this can
be found in the complexity of the subject and
the resulting lack of information. However, as
the critical crossroads for the environmental
impact of a structure is reached at an early
stage of the planning, information about the
sustainability aspects of a building material or a
design is required in a form that is readily usa
ble and practical. As numerous pi lot projects
have verified, the sustainable solution also
makes sense i n economic terms.
The total life cycle, i . e . the provision of the
structure, its operation including renovation
cycles and repairs right up to demolition and
disposal, is relevant for the resulting materials
flows. However, the design team often lacks
the facts and hence the basis for making a
realistic appraisal. Life cycle assessment is a
tool that can be used to provide the data for
comparisons. And life cycle assessment also
g ives manufacturers guidance on how they can
improve their products . " [ 1 ]

What is a life cycle assessment?

A life cycle assessment (LCA) is a crad le-to

grave analysis of a building element. To do this
we consider the stages in the l ife of the element
such as acquiring the raw materials, produc
tion, processing and transport, if necessary
also consumption, reuse and disposal. Accord
ing to ISO standards 1 4 040 to 1 4 043, the
assessment is d ivided into three sections:
inventory analysis, impact assessment and
Inventory analysis
This i dentifies which materials and energy con
version processes are relevant to the product.
The boundaries for the assessment - the so
called cut-off criteria - are usually set at m i n .
1 % mass o f material a n d primary energy con
sumption. In the case of materials that have an
i mpact on the environment (e. g . plasticisers in
synthetic materials) , the cut-off criteria may
need to be checked in some cases and possi
bly overridden.

[ 1 ) " I ntegration vergleichender Nachhaitigkeitskenn
werte von Baumaterialien und Bauteilschichten",
Sabine Djahanschah, DBU


Impact assessment
This assesses the emissions of all materials
and energy conversion stages. If manufactur
er's data is not available, information on com
parable processes must be obtained from
databases. If specific information is replaced
by comparable data, this must be noted by the

assessors. Every life cycle assessment there

fore contains an appraisal of the basic data
from which the load ing effect can be derived.
The assessment requires the various emissions
to be grouped according to their environmental
effects (e. g . contribution to global warming) .
There are no standardised specifications
regarding the parameters to be presented.
Therefore, the categories relevant for the envi
ronmental impact of the product must be
defined in individual cases.
The interpretation is based on the results of the
impact assessment. According to ISO 1 4 043,
the i nterpretation can be broken down into
three steps: identifying the significant issues,
evaluation, and presentation of the results.
Non-assessed but nevertheless relevant data
(e.g. durability, or emission of gases during the
period of use) must be shown separately. The
results should lead to conclusions and enable
recommendations for the use of the product.
Developments in life cycle assessment

Some European countries have already issued

standards to enable an assessment in one uni
fied parameter. However, the weighting of the
parameters is subjective and cannot be scien
tifically verified. In Germany the Federal Envi
ronmental Agency has devised a method for
c lassifying and ranking the i mpact categories.
The assessment considers the extent of the
impact (global - local; permanent - temporary),
the current environmental condition in the area
of the i mpact category (threatening - harmless)
and the contribution of the impact category to
the overall loading in Germany (major - minor) .
The l ife cycle assessments g iven in this book
are arranged according to these categories
(from left to right) .
In future the parameters required for the bui ld
ing assessment will be provided by the manu
facturers in the form of their standardised Envi
ronmental Product Declarations (EPD) . They
will have to be checked by independent third
parties. In order that a uniform foundation for
assessments is available in the meantime, the
manufacturers of building products have
agreed to set up a database for a transitional
The parameters of a life cycle assessment

At the "Round Table on Sustainable Construc

tion", which is coordinated by the Federal Min
istry for Transport, Building and Housing, the
participants agreed to use the indicators
explained below.
Primary energy input PEI [MJ}
The primary energy input (embodied energy) of
a building material describes the quantity of
energy media (resources) required for the pro
duction and use of the material. In doing so, we
distinguish between renewable and non-renew
able primary energy. 1 00 MJ corresponds to
the calorific value of 2 . 8 I heating oil.

Life cycle assessments

Global warming potential GWP 1 00

[kg CO2-equivalent]
The greenhouse effect causes i nfrared radia
tion radiated from the Earth's surface to be
reflected and, to a certain extent, rad iated back
to the Earth. The accumu lation of greenhouse
gases in the troposphere leads to increased
reflection and hence an overall heating of the
planet. The g lobal warming potential groups
together gases in relation to the impact of car
bon dioxide (COJ As the retention time of
gases in the atmosphere is taken into account
in the calculation, the time horizon considered
(normal ly 1 00 years) must be stated . 1 0 kg CO2
emissions correspond approximately to the
refining and incineration of 3 1 heating oil.

Durability [a]
Durability describes the period in which a
b u i l d i ng material can maintain its function in the
use allocated to it. It is not compulsory (e.g.
depend i n g on operations ) . A time range is usu
ally stated according to the diverse influences
affecting usage. The lower value describes the
d urab i l ity for a conventional usage, the higher
value relates to optimised planni n g .
Calorific value [MJ]
The calorific value describes the energy
released during thermal recycl i n g (combustion)
of a materia l . Energy bound by latent storage
media in the air is not considered.
1 m3 wood has a calorific value of 80001 3 000 MJ ( 225-365 1 heating oil ) .

Ozone depletion potential ODP

[kg CClf-equivalent)
Ozone is formed in the stratosphere when oxy
gen (02) is exposed to ultraviolet l i g ht. The
ozone absorbs some of the UV radiation and so
only a fraction penetrates as far as the Earth's
surface. The ozone depletion potential groups
together the impact of various ozone-depleting
gases. The reference variable used is CFC 1 1
(trichlorofluoromethane CCll) .
Acidification potential AP [kg S02-equivalent]
Acidification is mainly due to the conversion of
airborne pollutants i nto acids. This results i n the
pH value of precipitation been lowered . The
acidification potential groups together all the
substances contributi ng to acidification in rela
tion to the impact of sulphur d ioxide (S02) '
Visible, secondary effects of acidification on
buildings are, for example, the corrosion of
metals and the decomposition of natural stone.

Recycling potential
The recycl i ng potential describes the ecologi
cal value of the "accumulation" of a material in
the "technosphere". It shows how many envi
ronmental loads can be spared in relation to
the new provision of the material. A maximum
collection quota of 95% is assumed. As the
recycling potential represents a saving in the
production, it consists of a complete data
record with several parameters. If the complete
recycling potential were to be used, the values
for production would have to be lowered by the
values for the recycl i ng potential.
Recycling potential i n this book is given for
metals only because these are currently the
only building materials for which there i s a
recycl i n g system in place with a h i g h degree
of reuse.

The use of LeA data

Eutrophication potential EP [kg PO/-equivalent]

Excessive fertil isation ( eutrophication) is
understood to be the concentration of nutrients.
In excessively ferti lised waters this can lead to
fish kills and even "overturni n g " , i . e . to the bio
logical death of the waters. Plants in excessive
ly fertilised soils exhi bit a weakening of their tis
sue and a lower resistance to environmental
influences. Furthermore, a high nutrient input
leads to a concentration of nitrate in groundwa
ter and drinking water, where it can react to
become nitrite, which is toxic for humans. The
eutroph ication potential groups together the
substances in comparison to the impact of
phosphate (PO/ ) .

Photochemical oxident creation potential POCP

[kg Cfl4-equivalent]
Nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons produce
aggressive reaction products, in particular
ozone, when exposed to solar radiation. Photo
chemical ozone formation (so-called summer
smog) is suspected of causing damage to
vegetation and materials. H i g her concentra
tions of ozone are toxic to humans. The ozone
formation potential is related to the i mpact of
ethylene (C2H.) ,

From the designer's point of view, it is i n itially

the comparison of building materials in the con
text of the construction project that is interest
ing in order to estimate the contribution of a
building material to the build i n g 's overall load
on the environment. Materials-related parame
ters for a wide range of common building mate
rials are l isted on pp. 1 00-1 0 1 . They are relat
ed to either 1 m3 or 1 kg of the respective mate
rial depending on a typical manufacturer's dec
laration. They therefore enable an assessment
of products in terms of general environmental
issues, but cannot be d i rectly compared with
each other due to the d ifferent reference varia
bles and building performance characteristics.
Considering the life cycle
I n order to assess a building material over its
entire life cycle, the recycl i n g options for the
material and its durability must stil l be taken
into account. As not every material can be allo
cated a specific usage, it is only the applica
tion-related approach in Part C that provides
parameters for durabi l ity. A simple example is
a plank of larch wood, which can be used as a
floorboard for up to 50 years, but in facade
cladding up to 70 years.

Calorific values (wood and synthetic materials)

or recycling potential (metals) for the end of l ife
(EOL) of a building material are specified in
Part B. Those building materials without EOL
values have a recycl i n g potential that is low in
comparison to the production input (concrete,
for example, can be recycled as an aggregate
for new concrete, but the main input sti ll lies in
the production of cement) . Furthermore, the
"viabi l ity" of the recycl i n g must be assessed,
i .e . the possibil ity of being able to collect sort
ed building materials for recycling in the first
place. In this respect, special attention must be
paid to composite materials.
For instance, considered over the entire l ife
cycle of a b u i l d i n g , a floor covering with low
durability (short replacement intervals) may
result in h igher environmental loads than the
loadbearing construction.
Comparing LCAs
Particularly interesting for architects and engi
neers is p robably the comparison of forms of
construction that are essentially identical in
terms of building performance. But such
"equivalent" designs may result in total ly differ
ent ecological assessments. Contrary to "gen
eral" opin ion, the use of environmentally friend
ly alternatives need not mean having to make
compromises in terms of functionality, aesthet
ics or economic efficiency. Quite the opposite
in fact: this form of assessment may intensify
the planning process in some circumstances
and encourage additional creativity. Examples
of the functional comparison of materials appli
cations can be found in Part C. Some data is
presented in graphic form to ease the compari
sons between i ndividual form of construction.
The especially important parameters for non
renewable primary energy input and global
warming potential are highlighted by the length
of the bar and the shadi n g , negative potential
that can be assessed as generally positive indi
cated by a lack of shadi n g , values < 1 x 1 0-8
are equated to zero in the tables. The parame
ters are compared for every area of application
and given a percentage, with the highest value
in the environment category of an area of appli
cation defined as 1 00%. Comparisons of con
structions for d ifferent areas of appl ication are
therefore only possible by using the parame
Producing your own comparisons
To produce your own comparisons between
different designs, is first necessary to deter
mine suitable layers of materials with equivalent
functions. In order to ensure that the state
ments are not falsified, this process should take
account of the entire l ife cycle, i .e. i ncluding
durability and recycl i n g options. I n addition, the
input requ i red to maintain the building compo
nent should be i ncluded wherever possi ble.
Fig. B 1 0 . 1 shows, as an example, a compari
son between a soli d reinforced concrete floor
and an edge-nailed timber floor with compara
ble durabi l ity.


Life cycle assessments


Material, material specification


primary energy
non-renew.. renew.

[kg C02eq]

[kg R 1 1 eq]


eutrophication summer smog

[kg S02 eq]

[kg PO,eq]

[kg C2H,eq]

Solid reinforced concrete floor

Precast concrete element.

2% steel

(FE 360 B.

C 35/40). 1 20 mm

Recycling potential (FE 360 B. 85% primary)

Edge-nailed timber floor

Pine, 1 2% moisture content (local), 1 80 mm

Structural steel, hot-rolled section


360 B)


1 m2



-1 78


-1 1


1 5 kg





1 10

1 71 2


1 .4

1 68


1 m2

1 580

2 . 5 kg

1 m

1 580

0.1 1 5

0.01 49







0.01 1 4


- 1 43

0.00000 1 6







0.00 1 1


- 1 38





2.5 E{17

B 1 0. 1

lated on the basis of a theoretical means of pro

duction between 1 990 and 1 999 at the Bauhaus
University in Weimar ( I REB) and the University
of Karlsruhe (ifi b ) , and are based on acknowl
edged sources such as the Ecoinvent Data
base (Swiss Federal I nstitute of Technology) .
The underlying data is not always equivalent.
Reasons for this i nclude the d ifferent strategies
with which processes are considered and the
way the fundamental data is determined. One
example that illustrates the d ifferent approach
es is gypsum. Whereas LEGEP assesses natu
ral gypsum, GaBi - in accordance with the per
centages consumed in Germany - considers
50% natural gypsum and 50% desulpho gyp
sum (a by-product of flue gas desulpherisation
in coal-fired power stations) .
I n order to guarantee consistency withi n the
programs, no data was transferred between
them . Deviations between the i ndividual pro
grams are denoted by in order to show that
further coord ination work is required at this

The recycling potential of FE 360 B i s added to

the reinforced concrete floor because after the
period of usage the structural steel can be
recycled. On the other hand, the reuse of the
metal nails in the edge-nailed timber element
appears unlikely and is therefore not consid
ered. The comparison reveals better values for
the edge-nailed timber element virtually
throughout. Its stored primary energy (calorific
value) is released again upon combustion to
produce electricity and heat.

Origin of the data

Two computer programs were used for the

assessments in this book. The program used
for Part B (GaBi 4) made use of data based on
experience from cooperation with industry plus
patents and trade literature. In contrast to this,
the software for Part C (LEGEP) provides
assessments using inventory analyses calcu-

B 1 0. 1 Compilation of application-related life cycle

assessment values using the example of an inter
mediate floor


Material, material specification

data origin (see above)

point. The best matches between the l ife cycle

assessments of the programs can be found in
the parameters non-renewable primary energy
input and g lobal warming potential.
The goal of comparabil ity among l ife cycle
assessment data has therefore not yet been
completely realised.


primary energy
non-renew. renew.

[kg C02eq]

B 1 0.2 Material-related life cycle assessment values for

[kg R 1 1 eq]

common building materials


eutrophication summer smog

[kg S02eq]

[kg PO,eq]

[kg C2H,eq]


p = 2750 kg/m'
p = 2500 kg/m'

Granite' (India), polished,

1 m'




0.0001 2




Sandstone (local), sawn,

1 m'


1 53






1 m'


1 65




0. 1 0







1 .8


0. 1 6


0 .000003


0.D1 1

0.D1 1


0 .000003

0. 1 2

0.D1 1

0.01 6


Slates' (local),


2700 kg/m'

Marble (Italy). polished,


2700 kg/m'

Compacted loam',


2200 kg/m'

Loam bricks (sun-dried)',

1 200 kg/m'

1 m'

1 58

1 m'

1 257

Materials with mineral binders

Mortars and screeds
Anhydrite, comp. strength class 20, 2350 kg/m'

1 m'




0.0000 1 0



Magnesia ', comp. strength class 20, 2000 kg/m'

1 m'




0.00001 6




Cement, comp. strength class 20, 2250 kg/m'

1 m'






0. 1 3


Gypsum, class (for render) P IV a ,

1 m'

1 477


1 77


0. 1 5

0.D 1 6


1 m'








Calcium silicate,

1 m'








Concrete (paving).

1 m'

1 990



0.0000 1 3




1 m'

1 484


1 86

0.0000 1 0




1 m'




0.00001 1




2340 kg/m'

1 m'

1 549



0.0000 1 8


0.1 1


2360 kg/m'

1 m'

1 764



0.00001 6


0. 1 0


1 m'







0. 1 2

1 m'







1 .04

1 m'



1 50






Lime-cement, class (for render) P l l a,

1 300 kg/m'


1 500 kg/m'

Masonry units

p = 1 800 kg/m'
p = 2500 kg/m'
Aerated concrete, p = 400 kg/m'
Lightweight concrete', p = 600 kg/m'
In situ concrete (C 25/30), P
In situ concrete (C 35/45). P

Precast concrete element, 2% steel

(FE360B, C 35/45),
Cement fibreboard' ,


2500 kg/m'


1 750 kg/m'

Gypsum plasterboard' (type A) .

1 00


850 kg/m'

Life cycle assessments


Material, material specification


primary energy
non-renew.. renew.

[kg C02 eq]

[kg R 1 1 eq]


eutrophication summer smog

[kg S02eq]

[kg PO.eq]

Ceramic materials


1 m3

1 485



0.0000 1 0




1 m3

1 663


1 07

0.00001 1




1 m3








Glazed stoneware',

1 m3









1 m3

7 1 60

0 .070



1 .00

0 . 069


Pure straighl-run bitumen' (B 1 OO-B 70)

1 kg


0.01 0


0.000001 0




Polymer-modified bitumen (PmB 65A)

1 kg





0.00 1 8


0.00 1 9

Vert. perforated clay bricks, external wal l ,

Clay bricks, internal wall, p = 750 kg/m3
Solid engineering bricks (KMz),


670 kg/m3

1 600 kg/m3

p = 2000 kg/m3
stoneware, p = 2000 kg/m3


Bituminous materials

E 07

Wood and wood-based products

Sawn timber
Pine, 1 2% MC' (local), ODD 450 kg/m3

1 m3



951 2

-792 '

0 .000009




Western red cedar, 1 2% MC (N. Am.), ODD" 630 kg/m3

1 m3

1 2285


1 4359

-907 '

0 .000049




Teak, 1 2% MC (Brazil), ODD 660 kg/m3

1 m3

1 2870

32 1 7

1 3435

-1013 '

0.0000 1 5




Glued laminated timber, 1 2% MC, ODD 465 kg/m3

1 m3



1 3870

-662 '

0 .000053

1 .57

0. 1 9

1 .0

3-ply core plywood , 1 2% MC, ODD 430 kg/m3

1 m3

861 8

261 7

-648 '

0 .000030




Veneer plywood (BFU), 5% MC, ODD 490 kg/m3

1 m3

1 0 1 75


1 5041

-636 '


1 .62


1 .3

Particle board (P5, V1 00), 8.5% MC, ODD 690 kg/m3

1 m3

1 3998

581 8

1 26 1 4

-821 '

0 .000086

1 .22

0. 1 6


Oriented slrand bd. (OSB), 4% MC, ODD 620 kg/m3

1 m3

1 2555


1 6479

-839 '

0. 000052

1 .52

0. 1 9

1 .3

Med. density librebd. (MDFr, 7.5% MC, ODD 725 kg/m3

1 m3

1 5843


1 2495

-51 5 '

0 .000066

1 .48


1 .4

Woodbased products

Ferrous metals
Cast iron', casting (GG20; secondary), GJL

1 kg




0.000 1 1

0.000 1 8

1 kg



1 .7

4.26 E08
6.62 E08

0 . 00 1 3

Structural steel, hot-rolled section (FE360B)

0 . 0051



Steel mesh as concrete reinforcement (secondary)

1 kg




9.40 E08

0 . 0020

0.000 1 6


Weathering steel , cold-rolled strip

1 kg




8.30 E08




1 kg




4.41 Eo7

0 . 037

0.0 1 2

0.01 0

(Wf St 37-2),

2 mm

Stainless steel (V2A, X 5 CrNi 1 8- 1 0) , 2 mm

Non-ferrous metals
Alum. alloy (EN AW-7022 [AIZn5Mg3CuJ ) , sheet, 2 mm

1 kg




0. 000004



Lead', sheet, 2 mm

1 kg


1 .9


2.88 E07




Titanium-zinc (pure Zn Z1 , 0.003% T i ) , sheet, 2 mm

1 kg




5.59 Eo7

0.01 8

0.001 0

0.00 1 3

Copper', sheet, 2 mm

1 kg




1 .84 E07

0.01 8



Steel (FE 360 B, 85 % primary)

1 kg




1 .65 E08



1 kg




1 .60




Stainless steel (CrNi 1 8-1 0, 25 % primary)

1 kg


- 1 .2


-4.30 E-08





-0.00 1 2

Aluminium (EN AW-7022 , 1 00 % primary)

1 kg

- 1 77


-1 6






1 kg

-2 1

- 1 .3

-1 .5

- 1 .68




Titanium zinc (65 % primary)

1 kg



-1 . 7


-0.0 1 4



Copper (50 % primary)

1 kg



-1 .4


-0.0 1 5


-0.00 1 8




2.83 E08


0 .00090

Metal, recycling potential

(Wf St 37 -2,

85 % primary)


Float glass',


1 kg

2500 kg/m3


Synthetic materials
Polyethylene (PE-HD)', film

1 kg


1 .82





1 kg



Polyvinyl chloride (PVC- Pl', compound f. waterproof sht.





0.0 1 3

0.001 2


Polyvinyl chloride (PVC-

1 kg








0.001 7

Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA "Perspex"), , panel

1 kg






0.01 0

0.00 1 0


Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE "Tetlon"), coating

1 kg




1 6.2

0 .000008




EPDM', sealing gasket

1 kg




1 .97





Polyester resin' (UP)

1 kg






0.01 2

0.00 1 7


Epoxy resin (EP)

1 kg

app. 30

1 37



0 .000002

0.01 4



Styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR), sealing gasket

1 kg


1 02




0.01 0



Chloroprene rubber (CR "Neopren"), bearing

1 kg

app. 25





0.01 2

0.00 1 0


Silicone (SI), sealing compound

1 kg

app. 25






0.00 1 7



compound for pipes





HGV'/22 t perm. tot. load/1 4 . 5 t payload/local/85% u s e

1 /t km

Sea-going vessel', contain. ship/approx. 27 500 dwt/at sea 1 1t km

1 .5


0.1 1

3.87 E08


0.0001 6

0.000 1 9

0. 1 7


0.0 1 3

4.34 E{)9




, The negative global warming potential of wood is due to the carbon dioxide that is removed from the atmosphere during photosynthesis. This is then released again upon rotting
or burning of the wood at the end of its useful life. MC Moisture content ; ODD oven dry density

B 1 0.2

1 01

Part C Applications of
building materials

The building envelope


Insulating and sealing

Building services

Wal l s

I ntermediate floors


Surfaces and coatings

Fig. C Timber-and-glass facade employing structural

sealant glazing, Mont Cenis Training Academy,
Herne, Germany, 1 999, Jourda & Perraudin,
Hegger Hegger Schleiff

1 03

The building envelope

C 1 .1

"The house of the North is a climate castle in

whose thick wal l s rather small windows have
been cut. That fosters the acknowledgment of a
d ivided world: the c l imate outside, the domes
tic oven, the human warmth inside. In terms of
insulation this is a successful answer, but this is
probably the only successful aspect. Was it a
good idea to divide the world into alien and
familiar, into object and subject, into i nside and
Otl Aicher
I n historical terms the need for protection
against a hostile outside world and extreme
weather conditions provides us with the prima
ry reason for any building activity - the creation
of an effective barrier against the external envi
ronment. And as mankin d 's technology pro
gressed, so the demands placed on the build
ing envelope m u ltiplied (fig . C 1 .6) .
As the threshold between inside and outside belonging to both the building and the urban
space - the building envelope takes on a spe
c ial sig nificance. To the outside world the
facade is the building's calling card as it were,
the owners presenting their conception of
themselves to the public. In this context, the
facade makes an impression on the urban
landscape. Added to the primary protective
functions are other requirements necessary for
satisfying the occupants' demands for comfort
( e . g . protection against glare and excessive
heat) .
At the same time, the quality of the external
walls and roofs have a crucial influence on the
energy audit of the b uild ing.

Facade - skin and clothing

The facade - derived from the Latin word facies

is traditionally the "face" of a b u i l d i n g . I n earli
er times the facade designated the princi pal
side of a building only, the side presented to
the public, the side containing the entrance.
Observers perceived each building as a part of
a street front, and were unaware of its three
dimensional configuration (fig . C 1 .4 ) .
D uring the Modern Movement t h e term
"facade" was deleted from the architect's
vocabulary because of its traditional associa-

C 1 .1

"Cow Project", Vogelsberg, Hesse, Germany,

1 986, Formalhaut
1 .2 Systematic classification of functional criteria
1 .3 Systematic classification of constructional criteria
1 .4 San Giorgio Maggiore Church, Venice, Italy, 1 566,
Andrea Palladio
1 .5 Cowshed, Garkau Estate near LObeck, Germany,
1 925, Hugo Haring
1 .6 The requirements and tasks of building envelopes
(left: outside)

1 04

tions. Modernism was very fond of free-stand

ing structures that required special treatment to
their surfaces on all sides. Their external
appearance had to harmonise with their func
tions and internal utilisation (fig . C 1.5). The
"skin and skeleton" terminology interprets the
connection between internal arrangement and
external configuration as an inseparable whole.
Releasi n g the p lane of the facade from its load
bearing functions enabled the external skin to
be completely detached from the structure of
the building and it became the curtain wal l . The
outcome of this was the worldwide popularity of
glass-fronted office blocks with flat curtain
walls during the 1 960s and 1 970s.
Contemporary building design is more con
cerned with the conceptual and textural quali
ties of surfaces and their desired effects, and
less concerned with pragmatic or ideological
issues relating to the "honest" use of the mate
rials. The perceivable surface of the enclosing
"envelope" detached from the structure of the
building becomes the focus of our attention.
Today, the treatment of the building envelope
can be based on any one of a number of differ
ent approaches. Besides the rediscovery of tra
ditional building materials such as stone, tim
ber and clay brickwork, the surface character
istics are being increasingly influenced by
industrial products such as plastic sheets, ply
wood and weathering steel (fig. C 1 .9) .
New manufacturing techniques for adding
coatings to glass and the printing options for
d ifferent surfaces promote the rebirth of orna
mentation and decoration. The materials of the
building envelope are receding into the back
ground to the benefit of the images that need to
be conveyed (fig . C 1 .8) .
The topics of sustainable construction provide
us with another approach: the building enve
lope is designed as a multi-layer skin that
reacts to internal and external conditions plus
constantly chan g i n g requirements (fi g . C 1 . 1 0) .
This means that various functional layers regu
late the protection against excessive heat and
glare, redirect the light and provide the build
ing with energy.

The building envelope

Permeability - air

Permeability - light

Energy gains



partly permeable

Part of structure

Make-up in layers


Make-up in leaves


Ventilated air cavity

not variable
physical - structure
chemical - substance



manually, direcVindirect
with control technology
C 1.3

C 1 .2


Knowledge about the specific external condi

tions, the internal utilisation requirements p lus
the interaction of the individual aspects forms
the foundation for the design of a building
envelope. Furthermore, a whole range of gen
eral criteria apply to facade design irrespective
of the choice of material.
Functional criteria

The change in our awareness of the use of fos

sil fuels has led in recent years to the contem
porary climate concept of the building enve
lope becoming the focal point of the desig n ,
first and foremost t o exploit the passive options
of the facade as an i nterface between inside
and outside (fig . C 1 .2 ) . The building services
provide the remaining energy requirements
and cover peak loads. Until well into the 1 970s
it was fashionable to reduce users' options for
regulating and influencing "their" facades
(especially in office buildings) . But following the
rapid developments in the control of building
services in recent years there are now more
and more attempts to provide, on the one
hand, "self-regulati ng" systems ( e . g . thermo
tropic glazing) plus, on the other, " Iow-tech"
solutions with manual operation (e.g. hinged or
sliding shutters) . Furthermore, the building
envelope is being used more and more as an
active energy provider. I n this respect, the i nte
gration of solar technology into the building

envelope ( e . g . photovoltaic modules and solar

col lectors) provides numerous design options
in addition to the roof-mounted, add-on sys
tems frequently encountered.

----------------- ---------+------------


Heat storage
Energy gains

Constructional criteria

Constructional criteria have a crucial effect on

the design of facades (fi g . C 1 .3) . The decision
as to whether the external wal l should be load
bearing or not is always linked with other
design issues. Loadbearing elements such as
wal l s and columns can dominate and configure
the b u i l d i n g through the regularity of the struc
tural requirements.
Another fundamental decision is whether to use
a sing le- or mUlti-layer assembly. Whereas in
traditional masonry and solid timber (log) con
struction all the requirements placed on the
envelope are satisfied by a single, monolithic
layer, modern external wal l designs usually
consist of several coordinated layers that fulfi l
the respective tasks ( e . g . loadbearing, insulat
ing, waterproofing) in a certain order. "Layers"
can be, for example, p laster, render or thermal
insulation composite systems that themselves
cannot carry any loads or form part of a hig her
order construction (fig . C 1 .7) .

Thermal insulation

Protection from wind

---+--------- ----------

Natural lighting
Controlled permeability
of diffuse daylight

--. ---

Controlled permeability
Direct sunlight
glare protection)


--------- ----------

View through,
visual link

Natural ventilation

--- -

Protection against

Regulation of humidity,
vapour diffusion

Protecting wall against


----1f--------- ------------------- ---------+------.

Sound insulation

Protection against
mechanical damage



Fire protection

Protection against
C 1 .4

C 1 .5

C 1 .6

The building envelope


C 1 .7


External wall designs (left: outside)

a one leaf, one layer
b one leaf, multiple layers
c multiple leaves, one layer
d multiple leaves, multiple layers inside
1 .8 University library, Cottbus, Germany, 2004,
Herzog & de Meuron
1 .9 Casa Jax, Tucson, Arizona, USA, 2002, Rick Joy
1 . 1 0 Office building, Stuttgart, Germany, 1 998,
Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner
1 . 1 1 Systematic classification of external wall


Building performance criteria

In order to g uarantee the durabi lity and serv

iceabil ity of external wall designs, the b u i l d ing
performance properties of the individ ual layers
must be carefully coordinated with each other.
It should also be remembered that the thermal
and sound insulation, fire protection and mois
ture control provisions influence each other and
can be optimised only when considering all the
aspects together.
Thermal insulation
Good thermal insulation in the external compo
nents ensures not only the comfort of the occu
pants but also helps to reduce the heating and/
or cooling requirements - and hence the run
ning costs - quite significantly. It also protects
the fabric of the building against damage
caused by climatic influences (e.g. thermal
stresses, moisture, frost) . The thermal conduc
tivity of the external wal l construction essential
ly depends on:

the thermal conductivities of the ind ividual

component layers and primary b u i l d i n g mate
the thicknesses of the building material layers
the moisture contents of the building materials

Moisture control
Better thermal insulation i n the external compo
nents also helps to reduce the risk of conden
sation forming, but in winter there is an increased

C 1 .8

1 06

risk in the case of cavity and internal i nsulation.

Condensation can have an effect on the interior
climate (mould growth) and the durability of the
external wal l construction. In order to avoid
condensation in temperate c l imates, the fol l ow
ing principles should be applied:
Vary the vapour-tightness of the materials
from more vapour-tight on the inside to more
vapour-permeable on the outside.
I ncrease the minimum building component
temperature by placing thermal insulation on
the outside.



air cavity increase the degree of sound atten

. The sound i nsulation characteristics of the
windows make a major contribution to the
overall sound insulation index of the building

Sound insulation
Facades of sound insu lation classes 1 -6 to VDI
D i rective 2719 are provided according to the
prevai l i n g external noise level . The minimum
value for the airborne sound insulation index
l ies between 30 and 50 dB depending on the
respective utilisation. If the external noise level
exceeds 75 dB, enhanced requirements must
be satisfied . The following principles should be
taken into account for sound insulation:

Heavyweight walls can i nsulate agai nst noise;

the airborne sound insulation of components
increases with their wei g ht per unit area.
Homogeneous external walls attenuate the
sound better than inhomogeneous ones.
The airborne sound insulation can be improved
by using additional, separated, elastically
supported leaves and wider air cavities
Porous materials positioned adjacent to the

C 1 .9

Fire protection
I n the event of a fire, the b u i l d in g envelope
must prevent or delay the spread of the fire,
guarantee the load bearing capacity of the con
struction for a defined period of time and hence
help to protect the lives of the bui l di ng's occu
pants. Choice of building material and type of
construction depend on the fire protection
requirements and the protective measures
required for components at risk based on the
building code of the respective federal state
plus numerous other directives (TUV, D I N ,
VDE, etc . ) . A l l materials used in buildings must
be classified according to the D I N 4 1 02 or
D I N EN 1 3501 building materials classes (see
"Glossary", p. 264 ) .

The building envelope

brick slips

All enclosing components must be permanently

protected against the effects of the weather,
especially against driving rai n . Fig. C 1 . 1 1
shows a selection of potential external wal l
claddings corresponding to the classification
into single- and mUlti-layer opaque external
wall designs.

Small-format natural
stone panels
multi-layer designs


thermal insulation

Thermal insulation
composite system

Besides layers of plaster and render and ther

mal insulation composite systems (see "Sur
faces and coatings", p. 191 ) , small-format natu
ral and reconstituted stone un its plus ceramic
materials (all bedded in mortar) can be used as
the external cladding to single-leaf envelopes.
When planning single-leaf constructions, owing
to the different material properties of facings
and backings, special attention must be paid to
thermal stresses, swelling and shrinkage proc
esses and the formation of condensation. As
the surface temperatures of dark cladding
materials can fluctuate - depend i n g on the
season - between -20 and +85C, the associat
ed movements of and stresses in the compo
nents should be consi dered and allowed for i n
the details.


facing leaf
I cast wall
I gabion wall

The insulating materials (see " I nsulating and

sealing", p. 132) must cover the external wal l
completely without any gaps a n d b e attached
with mechanical fasteners. Penetrations
through the insulating layer and into the sup
porting construction form thermal bridges and
should be avoided wherever possible.
The ventilated air cavity must be at least
20 mm wide, the size of the ventilation open
ings at the top and bottom of the cavity must
have an area equal to min. 50 cm2 per metre
of wall length.
Supporting frameworks are usually of timber
or aluminium. Such frameworks must be able
to move and twist in all directions in order to
avoid restraint stresses.



Materials with
mineral binders



in situ concrete

fibre-cement slates

I precast concrete

I gran ulated slag aggr 1


I concrete units
reconstituted stone I

engineering bricks
ceramic panels

asphalt shingles

hollow glass blocks

Cast glass

profiled glass

_Sheet glass

-l float glass
I body-tinted glass I
f- I acid-etched glass I
I sand-blasted glass I
Y enamelled glass

Pressed glass

Multi-leaf, single- and

m Ulti-layer designs

suspended stone


Bituminous materials

calcium silicate units


Ceramic materials

I composite panels
Ij Reinforced

Multi-leaf, single- and multi-layer designs

stoneware tiles

Small-format reconsti
tuted stone panels

Claddings bedded
in mortar

Single-leaf, multi-layer designs

Multi-leaf constructions with a ventilated cavity

reduce the building performance risks when
compared to claddings bedded in mortar. Also,
as the building get older, it is still possible to
renew the external weatherproof leaf with mini
mum effort and without having to change the
loadbearing and/or insulating layers.
Besides their classification into material groups
(timber, glass, metal, etc . ) , external wall clad
dings can be classified according to the type
of fixing, i.e. exposed (nails, rivets, bolts) or
concealed (undercut anchors, suspended sys
tems) . Concealed fixings are becomi n g more
and more popular in order to achieve a better
appearance. The following rules apply to
designs with a ventilated cavity:

I split-face blocks

Ceramic materials

External wall claddings




with welted seams

and batten rolls

I profiled sheets


I panels
I trays
Y cast plates


rl 3-ply core plywood

I facade-gr. plywood I
I lamin. veneer l umber I




Y Wood-based productsf-

Synthetic materials

sawn timber

,j Solid timber


wood-cement partiCle
flat, m ulti-walled and
corrugated sheets

I membranes
moulded parts


C 1.11

1 07

The building envelope

C 1 .1 3

C 1 .1 2

Solid timber and wood-based products

External wal l claddings have always been

adapted to the typical regional weather condi
tions and characteristics using the building
materials available locally. Timber cladding has
proved worthwhile for many centuries, particu
larly in Germany's heavily forested, mountain
ous regions. However, owin g to the numerous
design options timber is now being favoured in
many other locations (fig . C 1 . 1 7) . Wood-based
products complement the application and
design options of the (usually) small-format
solid timber facades and have been used
throughout Europe for the past 20 years.
Planned and installed properly, timber cladding
can last for well over 1 00 years (fig . C 1 . 1 2) .
Whereas in earlier generations a timber exter
nal leaf always implied a timber load bearing
construction underneath, today the choice of
cladding is no longer l inked with the primary
load bearing construction.

ber facades must be taken into account at the

Fast drain i n g of precipitation without ponding
through the use of rainwater drips (provide
draft design phase. As a rule, the cladding
sheet metal at window sills if necessary) and
materials of low-rise bui ldings, i.e. those in
by avoiding capillary joints.
which the finished floor level (FFL) of the h i ghest
Permanent protection to narrow surfaces and
habitable room is < 7 m above the surrounding
ground level, must comply with building materi
Preferably install the timber with the d i rection
als class B2 (flammable), which applies to all
of grain matching the drainage direction of
the timber claddings given here. I n medium-rise
the rainwater; planed surfaces dry quicker
buildings (top FFL 7-22 m above ground level)
than rough-sawn ones.
building materials class B1 (not readily flamma
Provide an effective ventilated cavity behind
ble) is required, and only a few wood-based
the external leaf.
products achieve this classification (fig . C 1 . 1 4) .
Use non-rusting fasteners to prevent i m pair
Above 22 m the use of incombustible materials
(building materials class A) is prescri bed . Only
ing the appearance of the facade.
a few wood-cement particleboards satisfy this
External wall cladding of solid timber
requirement. However, i n conjunction with spe
cial fire protection concepts (e. g . sprinkler sys
When selecting boards for the cladding, take
tems, protected escape routes), exceptions to
into account the timber's natural resistance to
the rules can be applied for. The serviceability
insects and fun g i . The wood must be selected
and durabil ity of timber facades is d i rectly relat accordi n g to the requirements and the durabili
ed to the design and construction principles:
ty classes of DIN EN 350-2 (from 1 very dura
ble, to 5 not durable) (see "Wood and wood
based products", fig . B 6 . 1 1 , p. 70) . The boards
Protection against driving rain achieved with
appropriately sized overhang i n g eaves and
are attached with the heartwood side on the
outside to minimise the size of joints due to
adequate protection against splashing water
at the base of the wall (fig . C 1 . 1 6); it should
subsequent swelling and shrinkage move
ments. To allow movement and avoid fissures,
be possible to replace any severely exposed
the boards must be fixed free from all restraint.
elements if necessary.

General planning advice

The numerous regulations of the respective

building codes with regard to permissible mini
mum distances to neighbouring buildings and
the building materials classes required for tim-

C 1 . 1 2 Romeo and Juliet Windmill, Taliesin, Wisconsin,

USA, 1 896, Frank Lloyd Wright
C 1 . 1 3 Forms of cladding
a vertical staggered planks
b vertical planks with cover strips
c vertical planks with concealed strips
d vertical profiled boards
e horizontal profiled boards
f horizontal planks with open joints
g weatherboarding
h small-format shingles/shakes
C 1 . 1 4 Wood-based boards for cladding external
walls, with details of building materials class to
D I N 4 1 02
C 1 . 1 5 Horizontal jointing options for wood-based boards
a closed joint with Z-section "flashing"
b concealed joint

1 08

The building envelope

Wood-based board
3-ply core plywood
facade-grade plywood
laminated veneer lumber (LVL)
wood-cement particleboard

materials class
B1 /A2
C 1 .14

C 1 .1 6 Options for protecting base of wall against

splashing water
a 300 mm clearance between ground and bottom
edge of cladding
b "sacrificial", replaceable plinth element
C 1 . 1 7 External wall claddings of solid timber and wood
based products
a small-format standard shingles/shakes
b decorative shingles/shakes
c horizontal planking
d weatherboarding
e vertical planks with cover strips
f narrow vertical planking
g vertical planking with open joints
h facade-grade plywood with clear lacquer finish
i rough-sawn facade-grade plywood
j cement-bonded particleboard with cover strips

Sawn timber and profiled boards

From both the design and construction view
point it is important to decide first between the
various vertical and horizontal types of board
ing (fig. C 1 . 1 3) . The advantage of vertical
boarding is that rainwater drains quickly and depending on the height of the b u i l d i n g - it is
possible to achieve a uniform board length
without longitudinal joints. However, the hori
zontal end grain surfaces, e . g . at eaves and
openings, require very careful deta i l i n g . The
overlap of weatherboard ing must be equal to
min. 1 2% of the cover width of the board. Hori
zontal boards with open joints are attached at
an angle or the edges c ut with a splay so that
water does not remain on the individual boards.
On facades exposed to extreme weather con
ditions there is an increased risk of moisture
damage. Profiled boards with tong u e and
groove joints can be attached with the joints
either exposed or concealed. However, it
should be remembered that if fixed with the
joints engaged ( i . e. concealed ) , replacing the
boards in the event of damage always i nvolves
considerable work.

Wooden shakes and shingles

Smal l-format shakes and shingles can be
attached to facades in a double-lap tiling
arrangement. Both tapered and parallel split
shakes or sawn shingles can be used. Howev
er, the surface of sawn shingles weathers con
siderably faster because the wood fibres are
severed during sawin g . Besides the rectangu
lar standard shakes/shingles about 50-350 mm
wide, various decorative shapes are also avail
External wall cladding using wood-based products

Fig. C 1 . 1 4 l i sts wood-based products that are

suitable for use as external wal l cladding and
comply with the requirements of HWS class
1 00 (see "Wood and wood-based products",
p. 72) . The board formats, the pattern of the
joints and the surface characteristics - rough
sawn, brushed, sand-blasted or sanded with
abrasives - govern the appearance of the
facade. Horizontal joints emphasise the storeys
of the build i n g , but usually require suitable pro
tection (fi g . C 1 . 1 5) . Alternatively, cover strips
can provide this protection (fi g . C 1 . 1 7 j) . Con
cealed fasteners are also avai lable in addition
to more conventional, exposed screws.

C 1 .1 6

C 1 .15
Surface finishes

A chemical timber preservative to DIN 68800-3

is not requ ired for solid timber external wall
claddings with a ventilated cavity because the
anticipated moisture content of the wood is
insufficient for fungal growth. Among the wood
based products, 3-ply core plywood and lami
nated veneer lumber can remain untreated if
required and then will assume a natural grey
patina over time. The ultraviolet radiation
breaks down the small lignin molecules (the
"putty" substance in wood) into its water-solu
ble constituents, which are then washed out
over the years. The remaining white, fibrous
cellulose forms a rel ief-like grainy pattern in the
d i rection of the grain; the wood takes on its typ
ical grey or silvery patina. For details of translu
cent or opaque coloured coatings for timber
surfaces, see "Surfaces and coating" (p. 1 97 ) .

C 1 .17

1 09

The building envelope

durability of such composite panels still has to

be proven i n practice.


When using stone as an external wal l clad d i n g ,

make sure that the physical characteristics of
the type of stone chosen (which vary enor
mously, see "Stone", p. 43) comply with the
weather conditions at the site:


thermal expansion
deformations due to fluctuations in the mois
ture content (swelling and shrinkage)
resistance to frost and de-icing salts (espe
cially at the base of the wal l )
chemical stabil ity (S0 a n d CO )

Facing leaves

Facing leaves of natural stone are usually

90 mm thick. In comparison to suspended
stone cladding panels, they are less vulnerable
to damage at the base of the wal l caused by
horizontal loads (e. g . vehicle impact, malicious
damage). The load-carrying capacity via the
masonry bond and the fixing of the outer leaf to
the primary construction is achieved in a simi lar
way to faci n g brickwork. Stone facing leaves
enable the full spectrum of surface finishes to
be employed (see "Stone", p. 42) .

Stone cladding panels

C 1 .18

C 1 . 1 8 Supporting a n d retaining fasteners for stone

cladding panels
C 1 . 1 9 Facing unit formats and proportions of joints for
wall claddings of small-format natural stone,
reconstituted stone and ceramic materials
bedded in mortar
C 1 .20 External wall claddings of natural stone
a suspended Eifel basalt cladding panels with
ventilated air cavity
b storey-height composite stone panels
c facing leaf of sandstone
d gab ion wall with cages filled with Altmuhltaler
e cast wall
f slips of Brazilian oil shale

These days, owing to the economic and build

i n g performance advantages, stone facades
are usually built as suspended (curtain wal l )
assemblies with a venti lated cavity. T h e fixing
of the stone panels to the supporting construc
tion is labour- and materials-intensive. All the
fasteners (dowels, bolted/screwed fixi ngs,
cramps and corbels) must be made from stain
less steel to D I N 1 7 440 to avoid corrosion
blemishes on the surface of the stone . Normal
ly, every panel i s held by three or four fixings,
and fixing without restraint must be guaranteed
(fig . C 1 . 1 8) . The panel thickness depends on
the type of stone (hard or soft) and the structur
al calculations, and is normally 30-50 mm.
Joints accommodate movements and help ven
tilate the cavity behind; they are 8 - 1 0 mm wide
depending on panel size. The use of open
(drained) joints obviates the need for construc
tion and expansion joints; however, they dimin
ish the overall effect of the stone facade. As an
alternative, joints can be filled with mortar, and
movement joints sealed with s i l icone with a
sanded finish. Nevertheless, ventilation behind
the panels must sti l l be guarantee d .
The otherwise comparatively favourable l ife
cycle assessment of natural stone is spoi led by
the large number of construction elements
required. I n order to reduce the work on site, a
number of manufacturers have developed
stone composite panels consisting of a back
ing of aluminium or expanded clay and a 6 mm
stone "veneer". This makes them considerably
lighter than sol id stone panels. However, the

Split-face blocks Slips





Proportion of joints [%)

1 10


C 1 .19

Gabion walls

Gabions are wire mesh cages filled with a

graded assortment of loose stones - preferably
material available locally (fig . C 1 .20 d ) . They
have been used for centuries in civil engineer
i n g and landscaping works, but their first use in
a building was in 1 994 when lan Ritchie used
them on his arts centre in Terrasson, France.
Cast walls

Cast walls comprise stones (usually recycled)

built up in courses and cast in concrete
between formwork at the front and a compres
sion-resistant insulating material at the back
(fig . C 1 .2 0 e ) . The alternating courses of stone
and concrete results in a charmi n g appear
Small-format stone tiles bedded in mortar

Tiles with an area < 0 . 1 m2 and a thickness

30 mm can be bedded d i rectly in mortar
spread over a suitable substrate. To allow for
unevenness, the mortar bed is min. 1 0 mm
thick, but 20 mm is better. The thermal and
moisture-related movements of such a clad
d i n g , which is firmly attached to the substrate,
must be accommodated by 1 0 mm expansion
joints at a spacing of max. 6 m . It is not usually
the intention of such cladding to imitate load
beari ng masonry. Therefore, the tiles are
attached with regular, 4-6 mm wide X-joints,
but sometimes small formats are used in a
masonry bond (fi g . C 1 . 1 9) .

C 1 .20

The building envelope

Clay bricks and ceramic materials

Like hardly any other building material, the

design and construction of masonry requ i res
great discipline and knowledge of the details
appropriate to this material.
"We can also learn from brick, How sensible is
this small handy shape, so useful for every pur
pose! What logic in its bonding, pattern and
texture! What richness in the simplest wal l sur
face! But what d iscipline this material i mposes!"
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Double-leaf facing masonry

D I N 1 053 makes a fundamental distinction

between double-leaf masonry with and without
an air cavity, The minimum thickness of the fac
ing leaf should be 90 mm in order to g uarantee
stability, but is usually 1 1 5 mm, Only water
repellent, frost-resistant clay faci n g or hard
burned (engineering) bricks, preferably sol id
types, free from efflorescence can be consid
ered for such applications, Small-format
masonry units in thin format ( D F) measuring
240 x 1 1 5 x 52 mm or standard format ( N F)
measuring 240 x 1 1 5 x 7 1 mm are normally
used for external leaves, The use of medium
format masonry units (2-DF format etc,) leads
to an imbalance between joints and units and
an aesthetically unsatisfying result.
Double-leaf masonry with air cavity and thermal
The maximum permissible d i stance between
inner and outer leaves is 1 50 mm, The air cavi
ty should not be less than 40 mm wide, So if we
exploit the maximum distance, then that leaves
only 1 1 0 mm for the thermal insulation, Ade
quately sized ventilation openings (7500 mm2
per 20 m2 of facade) , which can be provided in

the form of open perpends or air-bricks, are

required at the top and bottom of the wall in
order to guarantee the necessary circulation of
air (those at the bottom can also be used for
drainag e ) , However, the large wall thickness of
about 500 mm (assuming a 240 mm load bear
ing leaf) means that this very durable form of
wall construction req uires more work on site,
and also noticeably reduces the amount of usa
ble interior space,
Double-leaf masonry with cavity insulation
If we abandon the air cavity and completely fi l l
the space between the leaves with thermal i nsu
lating material, this totally changes the building
performance boundary conditions, Only water
repellent insulating materials are suitable for this
form of construction , Careful construction of the
outer leaf is required in order to prevent ingress
of water throughout the l ife of the bui lding,
Faci n g leaves requ ire vertical expansion joints
at a spacing of 5 - 1 2 m depending on the orien
tation or incident solar radiation, plus the colour
and surface finish of the masonry units, Horizon
tal movement joints are not required in buildings
up to 12 m high, On taller buildings the external
leaf must be supported on brackets and move
ment joints included beneath such brackets,
Like all double-leaf masonry walls, D I N 1 053-1
stipulates 3 - 7 wal l ties per square metre
(dependi n g on tie d iameter, spacing of leaves
and height of external wal l above ground level ) ,
Besides t h e colour a n d surface characteristics
of the masonry units plus the size and colour of
the joints, it is primarily the choice of the mason
ry bond that affects the character of a facade,
Stretcher bond with a half-brick overlap can
quickly become monotonous when used on
large areas, When using older, more decorative
bonds, half-bricks must be used as the "bind
ers" (fig, C 1 ,2 1 ) ,

C 1 ,21

Brick slips, split-face blocks and ceramic wall tiles

bedded in mortar

For advice on these ceramic external wall clad

dings, please refer to the information on small
format stone tiles bedded in mortar (p, 1 1 0) ,
Suspended ceramic panels with ventilated cavity

Extruded ceramic panels with open (drained)

joints have only recently become available for
use as a curtain wall-type, ventilated rainproof
clad d i n g , Compared to double-leaf masonry,
fired ceramic panels have construction and
building performance advantages owin g to
their low weight. They normally consist of two
profiled panels (with rebate top and bottom
plus rainwater drip) factory-joined by webs to
form a twin-walled profile, Such panels are
approx, 1 50-250 mm high x approx, 300450 mm wide for a panel thickness of 30 mm,
The fired ceramic panels are usually supplied
i n their natural colour, vitrified panels are not
widely used at the moment.
The supporting construction normally consists
of aluminium members, but occasionally tim
ber, and has the task of transferrin g the weight
of the panels, wind forces and thermal fluctua
tions to the load bearing structure without
restraint. To drain run-off water, the horizontal
joints are either overlapped l ike scales, or the
panels are g iven a rainwater drip, A baffle in
the vertical joints protects agai nst driving rain
and also p revents the panels from rattling in the

C 1,21 Decorative masonry bonds

a Dutch bond
b Flemish bond
c Monk bond
d Silesian bond
C 1 ,22 Ceramic external wall claddings
a recycled clay bricks
b glazed bricks
c grooved ceramic panels
d stoneware tiles


The building envelope

Mineral building materials

The range of facade applications for m i neral

building materials extends from monolithic in
situ concrete to small-format faci n g masonry
units to the relatively lig htweight, suspended,
fibre-cement sheets.
Fair-face concrete

Architects appreciate the monolithic effect of

fair-face concrete facades - load bearing struc
ture, facade, floor coverings and external works
in just one building material for a u niform
appearance. But contrasting with the apparent
simplicity are the often complex behind-the
scenes toi l and painstaking workmanship. For
example, on the art gallery in Lichtenstein it
took five months to grind and polish the in situ
concrete facade until the desired mirror-like
finish was achieved (fig . C 1 .27d ) .
Thermal insulation a n d other building perform
ance requirements usually make it necessary to
construct a double-leaf fair-face concrete
facade. Thermal bridges at junctions, openings
and penetrations cannot be avoided comp l ete
ly and can be m i nimised only through careful ,
detailed plan n i n g . We essentially d istinguish
between in situ and precast concrete facades;
both can be b u i lt with a wide range of surface
finishes (fi g . C 1.23) .

C 1 .23

C 1 .23 Concrete surface finishes

a smooth formwork, grey cement
b rough-sawn, unplaned boards, grey cement
c acid-washed, coloured aggregate with rounded
grains, grey cement
d lightly brushed and unwashed, Rhine sand and
porphyry aggregate, 0-16 mm, white cement,
1 % iron oxide red
e pitched, limestone aggregate, grey cement
f reconstituted stone panel, ground, l ight and
dark aggregate, white cement
g blasted, Singenhofer quartzite aggregate,
0-1 6 mm, white cement, 0.2% iron oxide yellow
h transparent glaze, mineral paint
C 1 .24 Minimum clearances for fixing fibre-cement
sheets to timber framework
C 1 .25 Fixing system with cast-in channels for cladding
C 1 .26 Fixing system with supporting fasteners for
connecting the layers of sandwich elements
C 1 .27 Concrete facades
a smooth formwork
b rough-sawn boards
c concrete mix with gravel containing soil, sur
face finished with coarse pointing after striking
d concrete mix with of green and black basalt
aggregates, surface ground and polished
e printed precast concrete elements
f precast concrete elements
g "textile block" system, 400 x 400 m m
h concrete blocks made with white cement
i small-format fibre-cement slates in double-lap
j large-format fibre-cement sheets with red

In situ concrete
Besides the concrete mix (fi g . C 1 .27 c ) , it i s
primarily the choice o f formwork or formwork
system that governs the appearance of a fair
face concrete facade. Absorbent formwork,
e . g . rough-sawn boards (fig . C 1 .27 b ) , leaves
behind a rou g h texture but by drawing air out
of the surface of the concrete reduces the
number of pores and cavities. Non-absorbent
formwork (fi g . C 1 .27 a) renders possi ble the
creation of (almost) smooth surfaces; however,
such formwork encourages the formation of
pores, blemishes and discoloration. A wall
thickness of 1 75 mm has proved to be the
minimum for proper placing and compacting of
the concrete in facing leaves. For further advice
on in situ concrete walls, please refer to "Walls"
(p. 1 53) and " Building materials with m i neral
binders" (p. 58) .


Precast concrete elements

The factory production, unaffected by the
vagaries of the weather, enables precast con
crete elements to be produced with better
quality and precision (fi g . C 1 .27 f) . The hori
zontal compaction on vi brating tables results in
elements with low porosity. Additional surface
finishes (e. g . flame treatment, acid-etching) are
also available, and silk-screen printing and the
use of a retarder in the mix enable patterns and
motifs to be applied to the surfaces of precast
concrete panels (fig . C 1 .27) .
However, transport and erection place limits on
the dimensions and weight of precast concrete
elements. They should not exceed 1 5 m2 and a
length of 5 m. To ensure that changes in length
due to temperature and humidity fluctuations
are safely accommodated, approx. 1 mm width
of expansion joint should be provided per
metre of precast concrete (see " I nsulating and
sealing", p. 1 40). We distinguish between
sandwich elements and single- or dual-layer
cladding panels with a rubble stone or similar
fac i n g . Storey-height wall panels normally
require two interlocking or screwed fixings
arranged symmetrically (fi g . C 1 .25).
Sandwich elements consist of three or four lay
ers (fac i n g , air cavity if required, insulation and
loadbearing) and can be used for loadbearing,
bracing or non-load bearing functions. The fac
i n g layer must be at least 70 mm thick in order
to guarantee the concrete cover required ( l i ke
with curtain wall panels) , but this can be
reduced by using textiles or other thin reinforc
ing layers. The layers are bonded together with
support anchors (vertical forces ) , retaining
anchors (horizontal forces) and ties (wind forc
es) (fi g . C 1 .26) .
Facing masonry of concrete

Calcium silicate faci n g masonry units as well as

cement-bonded granulated slag aggregate
units (see " Building materials with mineral bind
ers", p . 60) exhibit similar properties and can
also be employed for facing leaves. D I N 1 8 1 53
specifies the technical, material and geometri
cal requirements. The standard distinguishes
between the following:

The building envelope

facing bricks (Vm) masonry units without

facing blocks (Vmb)
masonry units with

Facing bricks and blocks are produced in both

the octametric ( 1 /8 M 1 25 mm) and the met
ric ( 1 / 1 0 M 1 00 mm) d imensional coordina
tion systems. Wall thicknesses of 90, 1 00, 1 1 5,
140 and 1 90 mm are possi ble, also 240 mm for
facing blocks.
The exact designation of concrete faci n g
masonry units is made up o f t h e type of unit,
DIN number, strength class, density class and
dimensions, e.g. facing unit DIN 1 8153 Vm28 - 2.2 - OF.
Frank Lloyd Wright had experimented with his
decorated "textile block" system (fig. C 1 .27 g)
as early as the 1 920s. The range of surface
qualities obtainable is enormous and extends
from open-pore, closed-pore, lightly brushed
and washed, and sand-blasted to rough-split.
Individual colour requirements can be achieved
by adding inorganic p i gments in the form of
natural stone particles ( e . g . granite, porphyry
and basalt) . The planning advice (spacing of
leaves, wall ties, brackets, etc. see p . 1 1 1 ) for
clay brickwork also applies to double-leaf con
crete facing masonry. Movement joints
1 5 mm wide should be included every 6-1 0 m
in order to minimise cracking (fi g . C 1 .27 h ) .


Reconstituted stone panels

Plain ( unreinforced) reconstituted stone pan

els are produced in sizes of 0.2-1 .0 m2 and a
minimum thickness of (usual ly) 40 mm from
concrete of grade C 55/67. The shape and col
our of the aggregates (principally marble and
limestone granulate) can be enhanced by sur
face treatments such as sand-blasting, grind
ing and polishing (fig. C 1 .23f). The planning
information given for cladding panels of natural
stone also apply to the dimensions and fixing of
reconstituted stone panels according to
D I N 1 8 5 1 6 (see p. 1 1 0) .

Fibre-cement slates and sheets

The first patent for fibre-cement slates was

granted in 1 901 . In those days they were pro-


C 1 .24

duced primarily from cement with the addition

of approx. 1 0% asbestos fibres and water.
Asbestos (the Greek word for indestructible) i s
a generic term for a group o f natural, fibrous,
m i neral silicate compounds. However, when
these very fine and long-lastin g fibres get into
the lungs, they can cause cell damage, a d isor
der known as asbestosis (see "Glossary",
p . 268) . Owing to the enormous health risks
associated with asbestos, the industry has
been produci n g non-asbestos products since
the 1 980s (see "Building materials with mineral
binders", p . 61 ) ; an E U ban on asbestos came
into force in 2005.
Generally, we d istinguish between the small
format slate and the large-format sheet, both of
which can be produced in l ight grey and white
(using Portland and white cement respectively),
or in various colours, or with a g laze, or with an
opaque coloured coating.

C 1 .25

C 1 .26

with hooks to match the colour of the slate.

Loadbearing frameworks of aluminium also
make use of riveted fixings.
Large-format fibre-cement sheets
Large-format sheets are available in sizes up to
3 1 00 x 1 250 mm and thicknesses of (usually)
8-1 2 mm. They are generally erected flush and
attached to the supportin g construction by
means of screws, rivets or concealed undercut
anchors. Owin g to the high coefficient of ther
mal expansion in the case of aluminium sup
porting constructions, expansion joints in the
supporting construction must guarantee that
the fibre-cement sheets are fixed without any
restraint. The joint width between sheets is
about 1 0 mm (fi g . C 1 .24). Horizontal joints are
usually of the open (drained) variety, but verti
cal joints are provided with a waterstop. Large
format corrugated sheets can also be used,
attached vertically or horizontally.

Small-format fibre-cement slates

Building authority approval is not required for
slates up to 0.4 m2 and max. 5 kg . These smal l
format materials (e.g. 200 x 300 or 400 x 400 mm)
are hung on the facade in overlapping arrange
ments accordi n g to trade recommendations,
e . g . double-lap, d iagonal, etc. (fig . C 1 .27 i ) .
The supporting construction for such slates
generally comprises horizontal tiling battens
mounted on vertical counter battens. Fibre
cement slates are fixed with special rustproof
nails of copper of galvanised steel, alternatively


C 1 .27

1 13

The building envelope



External wal l clad d i n g s of metal are very long

lasting and require little maintenance. Although
the metals themselves are relatively heavy, the
material thicknesses used (normally 1 mm
depend i ng on the metal) mean that this is
always a l i g htweight form of construction,
which has benefits for the design of the load
bearing structure. The methods of shapi n g and
i nstallation are wel l establ ished and range from
manual folding to large-format trays with a high
degree of prefabrication.
Whereas the metal curtain wal l s of the 1 950s
were often associated with the attributes "tech
nical" or "cold", these days we value their pre
cise surface q ualities plus their specific l i g ht
and colour effects. Various metals can be used
for the facade, e . g . aluminium, lead, stainless
steel, copper, steel, weathering steel or zinc
(for properties see "Meta l " , fig. B 7. 1 0, p. 80,
and fi g . B 7. 1 7, p. 83).



sen or additional measures (e. g . shaping, stiff

ening members on the back, folded edges)
must be employed in order to guarantee the
necessary rigid ity. Fixings can be exposed
(penetrating the material) or concealed (no
penetration) . Different types of installation, sys
tems and semi-finished products are used for
metal claddings:

General planning advice



C 1 .28

C 1 .28 Types of installation, systems and semi-finished

products (selection)
H = horizontal section, V = vertical section
a open (drained) ioint
b standing seam
c profiled metal sheets
d shingles
e panels
f trays
C 1 .29 Metal facades (selection)
a colour-coated horizontal panels,
250 x 1 600 mm
b sheet lead with standing seams
c titanium shingles
d weatherin9 steel
e 35 mm wide copper strips "woven" between
vertical larch wood battens
f cast aluminium panels with imprinted pattern


External wall claddings of metal are practically

vapour-tight. In order to avoid the formation of
condensation, the ventilation openings must
equal :2! 1 / 1 000 (inlets) and :2! 1 / 800 (outlets) of
the wal l area. A vapour barrier should be
i ncluded on the inside adjacent to areas with
high water vapour concentrations.
The wind suction forces and temperature-relat
ed changes in length are the main factors
determining the material d i mensions and type
of i nstallation. Temperature differences in the
exterior climate lead to increases in length
between 1 .2 mm/m (steel) and 2.2 mm/m (tita
nium-zinc) . The use of sliding fixings and ade
quately sized joints guarantees that the clad
ding is fixed to the supporting construction
without any restraint.
Protection against corrosion plays a major role
in terms of the stabil ity of the facade and
should therefore be considered at an early
stage (see "Metal", p. 78) .

Processing and installation

Metal cladd ings must remain stable, and so

depending on material and type of installation,
an appropriate material thickness must be cho-

Sheet metal with welted/standing seams or

batten rolls:
Non-self-supporting sheet metal in approx.
600 mm wide bays is normally attached to
rough-sawn tongue and g roove boarding,
although systems comprising metal sections
can be used to meet higher fire protection
requirements. Double welt (standing) seams
or batten rol l s are the traditional methods of
construction (fig . C 1 .28 b) well known from
roofi n g (see p. 1 24) . Even though the welted
seams are these days mainly formed by
machine, this is sti l l a manual installation
technique which does not result in perfectly
smooth surfaces (fig . C 1 .29 b ) .
Shing les
These small-format elements enable the
structure to be covered in a net-like cladd ing.
Their small size and good formability are ideal
for covering rounded surfaces (figs C 1 .28 d
and C 1 .29 c ) . They are fixed to boards or a
grid of battens manually using clips or nails.
Profiled sheets:
A large selection of profiled metal sheets is
available (fig . C 1 .30) . Profiled sheets can be
attached to the facade horizontally or vertical
ly and fixed to a timber or metal supporting
framework (fig . C 1 .28 c ) .
Panels are available with interlocking or over
lapping seams, also as horizontal panels, and
can be installed flush or overlapping in vari
ous d i rections (figs C 1 .2 8 e and C 1 .29 a) .
Fixing is usually by way of concealed rivets in
the joints.
The folds on all sides enable trays to be pro
d uced with larger d imensions and in propor
tions from 1 : 1 to approx. 1 :4, but are never
theless very stable. They are usually fixed

C 1 .29

The building envelope

tion, and are not considered further in this sec

tion. External wall constructions using mem
branes in tension (films, textiles) are dealt with
on p. 1 29.

walled sheets

External wall claddings of flat, corrugated and multi

C 1 .31

C 1 .30

with the rivets or screws positioned in the

joints (fig. C 1 .28f) , but systems with con
cealed hooks are also available.
Cast sheets:
Cast sheets are highly resistant to mechanical
damage and can be produced i n aluminium
(also bronze if required) with any type of sur
face finish (fig. C 1 .29f) . They are normally
hung on concealed fixings.

Solid aluminium sheets, sandwich panels or

weathering steel are among those types of
metal cladding that can also be installed with
open (drained) joints (fig . C 1 .28a). Large-for
mat sheet metal can be shaped to fit rounded
facade geometries. Furthermore, various semi
finished products such as perforated and
embossed sheets, expanded metal, louvres,
metal strips, metal fabrics and meshes place a
whole range of options at the architect's d is
posal and render new facade designs possi ble
(fig. C 1 .2g e).

Synthetic materials

Due to the incorrect choice and use of materi

als plus technological deficiencies in the mate
rials themselves, the willingness to experiment
with the use of plastics as an architectural
material in the 1 960s and 1 970s ran out of
steam, at the latest by the time the oil crisis
took hold in the mid-1 970s.
But the use of plastics has been growing since
the early 1 990s; Rem Koolhaas, for example,
used g lass fi bre-reinforced plastic corrugated
sheets as external wall cladding on his art gal
lery in Rotterdam (fig . C 1 .32 a). Synthetic
materials underwent a change of image - from
cheap product to contemporary b u i l d i n g mate
rial - and this resulted in considerably better
qual ity products and a much wider range of
products available on the market.
External wall claddings usually make use of
conventional semi-fin ished products such as
flat, corrugated and mu lti-walled sheets. One of
the primary material properties of p lastic - its
ease of shaping - is absent from sheets, or is
at best only limited. Moulded parts produced
using casting or laminating techniques demand
a high manual input, despite industrial produc-

In contrast to external wall claddings of g lass,

transparent or translucent synthetic materials
have the advantages of low wei g ht and a high
load-carrying capacity at low cost. The synthet
ic materials suitable for facades in the form of
sheet-type semi-fin ished products are: PM MA,
PC, and g l ass fibre-reinforced UP, PET and PVC.
Fire protection requirements must be consid
ered when choosing the material. Basically,
PET and PVC satisfy the requirements of build
ing materials class B 1 ; PMMA, PC, and glass
fibre-reinforced plastics fal l into class B2. How
ever, ind ividual products with special formula
tions (e. g . the add ition of a flame-retardant)
may deviate from the general classification; in
such cases special approval is necessary.
Acrylic sheet (e.g. Perspex) is permanently
resistant to ultraviolet radiation and the effects
of the weather, but all the other synthetic mate
rials listed above generally carry a g uarantee of
max. 1 0 years.
The U-value of double-walled sheets (i.e. single
row of voids) is 2,5 W/m2K, but such sheets
are available with up to six wal l s ( i . e. five rows
of voids) and the U-value of such sheets is
1 .2 W/m2K.
Processing and fixing
The seasonal changes in temperature which
amount to > 50 K lead to changes in length of
3-5 mm/m depending on type of material and
sheet thickness. Holes and fasteners must
therefore be designed in such a way that fixing
without restraint is guaranteed. Plastic sheets
are fixed with conventional fasteners
(fig. C 1 .3 1 ) .
Corrugated sheets attached to walls are fixed
through the troughs, and not through the crests
as is the case for roof surfaces. Multi-walled
sheets are normally installed with the voids ver
tical in order to prevent condensation collecting.

C 1 .30 Profiled metal sheets

a flat (E)
b shallow ribs (L)
c grooves (N)
d micro-profile (M)
e trapezoidal profile (T)
f corrugated profile (W)
C 1 .31 Methods of fixing various semi-finished products
C 1 .32 External wall claddings using synthetic materials
a corrugated sheets made from glass fibre
reinforced plastic (GFRP), lit from behind
b triple-walled polycarbonate panel, rear face
co-extruded in different colour
c transparent polycarbonate corrugated sheet
revealing straw insulation behind
d translucent polycarbonate double-walled panel
with tongue and groove joints

C 1 .32

1 15

The building envelope


loads for cleaning and maintenance must be

allowed for on horizontal and sloping g lazin g ;
dependi n g on thermal req u i rements, laminated
safety g lass or a composite comprising lami
nated safety g lass ( i nside) and toughened
safety g lass is used. Laminated safety glass is
also used for vertical safety barriers without any
self-supportin g protective elements (handrail
etc . ) . The corresponding technical regulations
(e. g . TRAV) apply to vertical glazin g , the top
edge of which is > 4 m above the adjoining
level . Laminated safety glass can be used as
single g lazin g , as the inner pane of an insulat
ing glass unit, or as an outer pane with tough
ened safety g lass on the inside. The load-carry
i n g capacity can be verified either with calcula
tions or by means of the pendulum impact test
( including the supporting construction) .

I n the architecture of the past few decades, the

theme of transparency has played a dominant
role, also as a signal for openness and commu
nication. On the one hand, more slender and
more l i ghtweight fixing systems, on the other,
new glass technologies, have enabled archi
tects to sound out the whole spectrum of possi
bilities between transparent, translucent and
opaque g lazing (fig . C 1 .33) , and at the same
time have improved the thermal and optical
properties. Besides the traditional frame,
frame-less, sealed and overlapping forms of
glazing have appeared. Furthermore, g lass
facades with a ventilated cavity are becoming
increasingly popular.

C 1 .33


Glass facades have to satisfy numerous techni

cal requirements. The incident solar radiation
requires special attention. Exploited properly,
solar radiation can contribute significantly to
the energy requirements of a bu ildin g, and
improve the comfort of occupants and q uality
of the incoming l ight. On the other hand, solar
radiation can lead to overheating, a poor interi
or climate and to considerably higher energy
and technical requirements and hence costs.
For information on choosing the right type of
g lass see "Glass" (pp. 86-89) .
Owing to the properties of glass, safety
aspects may have to be considere d , depend
ing on the particular application. The very spe
cific way in which glass fai l s means that people
must be protected against splinters of g lass
falling from above, or prevented from falling
through g lass barriers and spandrel panels.
We distinguish here between overhead glazing
(pitch > 1 0) and vertical glazing . Only types of
glass with sufficient residual load-carrying
capacity may be used for overhead g lazin g .
Supported along t h e edges, wired g lass can
span up to 700 mm, laminated safety glass
made from heat-treated glass up to 1 200 mm.
Cut-outs in overhead glazing are not permitted.
Other types of support and larger spans must
be checked in each individual case. Additional

Areas of application

Glass facades have proved to be especially

durable. I n terms of architecture, laminated and
insulating glass - comprising various types of
sheet g lass - enable many different types of
surface finish (figs C 1 .36 c-f) .
External wall cladding with ventilated cavity
The facade cladd i n g products in widespread
use include obscured g lass, body-tinted glass,
glass with a coloured coatin g and patterned
glass. Sandwich elements are also available,
e.g. backing panels of expanded glass granu
late with a coloured coating p lus toughened
safety g lass on both sides.
The requirements to be satisfied by a facade of
toughened safety g lass with a ventilated cavity
are stipulated in D I N 1 8 51 6-4. The structural
analysis determines the thickness of the glass,
but a nominal thickness of 6 mm is the mini
mum permitted. All panes must undergo a
heat-soak test prior to installation (see p. 87). A
cladding comprising more than one pane
requires a cavity at least 30 mm wide.
Single-leaf glass facades
Open or unheated interiors such as atria or
conservatories require glass without a thermal
break. As a free-standing wal l , such g lazing
can also be used to satisfy sound i nsulation
requirements. Heated interiors requ ire insulat-

C 1 .33 Pharmacology Research Centre, Biberach,

Germany, 2002, Sauerbruch Hutton Architekten
a vertical louvres open
b vertical louvres closed
C 1 .34 Fixings for glass
a patent glazing bar with cap to clamp glass in
b individual clamp fixing
c individual screw fixing through hole
d structural sealant glazing (SSG) with mechani
cal retainer
C 1 .35 Systematic classification of glass facades
C 1 .36 Glass facades with various types of glazing
a cable net with overlapping panes
b flush cable net
c printed glass, individual fixings through drilled
holes, loads transferred via spider brackets
d glass printed with text, individual clamp fixings
e printed glass, individual clamp fixings
f double-leaf profiled glass facade

ing or heat-absorbing glass. The standard is

double glazing with a system U-value (i.e.
including the frame) of 1 . 1 - 1 .4 W/m2K. I n pas
sive-energy housing triple glazing with a sys
tem U-value of 0.7-0.8 W/m2K is normal. Build
i n g s with high i nternal thermal loads or no
external sunshadi n g can be protected against
excessive solar gains (to a certain extent) by
solar-control glass.
G lass bricks and blocks achieve U-values as
low as 1 .5 W/m2K, depending on type. They
are installed with continuous mortar joints.
Double-leaf glass facades
Double-leaf g lass facades are used as part of a
climatic building control system or for sound
insulation purposes. In the case of sound insu
lation, the inner leaf (insulating glass) provides
the thermal break function, and the outer leaf is
responsible for the sound insulation. Firstly, the
pane of glass reflects part of the sound, and
secondly, the cavity open to the outside cre
ates oscillations that contribute - through inter
ference - to the absorption of the sound waves
(Helmholtz resonator). With an appropriate
building height and a system of openings in the
facade, such a system can also be used to
provide protection from the wind.
Translucent profiled glass, which can be built
with (Jne or two leaves, represents a special
form of external g lass wall (fig C 1 .36 f) . The
glass channels are held on two sides by alu
minium sections and bonded together with sili-

C 1 .34


The building envelope

Glass facades

Rigid facade elements

leaded light
timber frame
metal frame
plastic frame
profiled glass

clamping sections
structural sealant glazing
individual fixings

cone. Profiled glass is self-supporting up to two

storeys. In a double-leaf arrangement, a U
value of 2.0 W/m2K is possi ble, and with a fill
ing of capillary-structure material this can be
reduced to 1 .4 W/m2K.
Forms of construction

The supporting structure has a decisive effect

on the overall architectural impression of a
glass facade. We d istinguish between com
pression and tension systems. Systems in ten
sion offer greater design freedom because the
loads do not need to be carried at the bottom
of the elements, but instead place increased
demands on the structure.

Post-and-rail designs
The most common form of construction is the
post-and-rail facade. This consists of vertical
primary members and horizontal secondary
members - usually of aluminium, steel or tim
ber. This form of construction enables all the
loadbearing components to be sized accordi n g
to the loads they have t o carry. The primary
members can be loaded either in tension (sus
pended) or in compression (supported).
This form of construction requires the glass fix
ings and seals or gaskets to be fitted on site,
which calls for more generous tolerances. And
as this type of design forces the panes of glass
to be fitted from the outside, large, prefabricat
ed facade elements are preferred in order to


vertical pivot

horizontal pivot


screwed bracket
spider bracket

C 1 .35

offset the high cost of the scaffolding to a cer

tain extent.

fore be ensured that all rainwater can drain

away readily from all fixings and frames.

Framed designs
I n contrast to the post-and-rail facade, the ele
ments, mainly loaded in compression, are
always mounted from the inside. Prefabrication
results in better tolerances and better sealing .
A continuous layer of insulation in the frame
sections open to the outside can avoid thermal

Continuous support
The panes of glass are held over their entire
length by means of glazing beads or the wings/
caps of patent glazing bars. For instance, on a
typical window frame the beads are fitted to the
inside. Minimal widths of about 50 mm are thus
possi ble. The further development of this form
of clamping led to the patent glazing wings and
caps (fig . C 1 .34 a) . These are mounted from
outside, which allows both thermal problems to
be red uced and also the fixing of two panes
simultaneously. Patent glazin g wings/caps are
max. 40 mm wide. This category also includes
structural sealant glazing (SSG) . The structural
bond between g lass and frame achieved with
special sil icone adhesives results in completely
flat facade surfaces broken up only by the
joints, and with no fixings visible on the outside.
In Germany this technique is not permitted
above hei g hts of 8 m without add itional
mechanical retention of the outer pane (metal

Cable net designs

The desire of architects to "dissolve" the glass
facade more and more led to the development
of the so-called cable net in the mid-1 980s (fi gs
C 1 .36 a and b). The loads are carried by pre
stressed cables. Such designs are primarily
loaded in tension and req u i re strong abutments
to accommodate the prestress in the cables.

Owing to the specific characteristics of g lass, it

must be fixed in such a way that there is no
contact between the glass and other hard
materials, both when loaded or as a result of
thermal movement. The glass is therefore sup
ported on permanently res i l i ent intermediate
pads or layers. We d isti n guish between inter
mittent and continuous forms of support
(fig . C 1 .35) . Water that cannot drain away
properly leads to ponding, which can cause
permanent "fogging" of the g lass. It must there-

Intermediate support
I n this form of support the g lazing is fixed at
individual points by clamp-like fixings or coun
tersunk screws (figs C 1 .34 b and c). In princi
ple, the clamping arrangement is better for the
material because drilling through glass can
lead to detailing problems. Discrete fixings in

10a9 tJicht m&r "w

iw@telQl/11It 11!Jl i!I/tiIt.i "

W'f 'll fll )e\ilW\Wsljm

r#!I klc.i'lw.ifWti

C 1 .36


The building envelope

drilled holes are usually attached to brackets

called spiders. These metal components collect
the forces from several glass support points and
transfer them to the load bearing construction .
Solar energy aspects

G lass enables the passive use of solar energy

as it allows the solar radiation to penetrate into
the building interior. However, glass is also a
major component in active solar energy sys
I n order to minimise the transmission heat loss
es in winter and the risk of overheating in sum
mer, the passive use of solar energy requires
the relationship between available solar radia
tion, size of openings, heating requirements,
shading systems and thermal storage masses
to be balanced. I nstal l i n g solar energy systems
in the building envelope converts the facade
from a passive, protective enclosure to an
active, energy-producing element. Generally,
we distinguish between two active forms of
solar energy usage: photovoltaic systems, for
generating electricity (fig . C 1 .37) , and thermal
energy systems, for generating heat. The archi
tectural integration of these solar energy sys
tems i nto walls and roofs results in the compo
nents acting simultaneously as energy-produc
ing, constructional , functional and architectural
elements in the design of the building envelope.
Photovoltaic systems
There are currently two strategies for integrat
ing photovoltaic systems into the facade. One
of these strategies involves positioning the
semi-transparent solar cells (the transparency
of which is constantly being improved) in such

External wall claddings

for origin of data see "Life cycle assessments", p. 1 00

a way that the g lass surfaces still possess a

certain transparency. The other strategy
employs opaque solar cells with d ifferent col
ours in order to the increase the design options
with this material. The cells - originally dark
blue - are now avai lable in various shades of
blue, red and green , also in a yellow-gold col
ouri n g . The shape of photovoltaic modules
employing vapour deposition techniques can
be varied and thus used as a further architec
tural device.
The degrees of efficiency of photovoltaic
modules are as follows:

crystal l ine sil icon cells, 1 2-1 7%,

amorphous s i l i con cells, 5 -7%,
copper indium seleni d e (CIS) cells,
approx. 1 1 %
cadmium tel luride (CdTe) cells, 7%.

Thermal energy systems

Developments in the field of thermal energy
systems are following a similar pattern to those
of photovoltaic systems. Thermal energy sys
tems use air or water as the heat transport
medium and were ori g i nally black, but now the
range of colours includes shades of blue, red ,
brown, green, gol d , si lver a n d light grey. How
ever, the new colours do not achieve the
degree of absorption of the black material; the
energy gains are reduced by 2 -1 0% depend
ing on the colour.
The degrees of efficiency of thermal energy
systems are in the region of 50-75% for flat
p late collectors, whereas vacuum collectors
achieve values of up to 80% .

C 1 .37
C 1 .37

C 1 .38

primary energy

primary energy

suspended stone slabs, limestone'

1 68


limestone slab, cut, 30 mm

stainless steel fasteners (V4A) , 1 40 mm

stone slabs bedded in mortar, limestone'


limestone slabs, cut, 20 mm

lime-cement mortar MG 1 1 , 1 5 mm

Photovoltaic panels integrated into the building

envelope, Mont-Cenis Training Academy, Herne,
Germany, 1 999, Jourda & Perraudin, Hegger
Hegger Schleiff
Life cycle assessment data for external wall

[kg C02 eq] [kg R 1 1 eq] [kg S02 eq]

[kg PO.eq]

[kg C2H.eq] [a]








80- 1 00

0.0 1 9

;;, 80


80- 1 00



Materials with mineral binders

in situ concrete


in situ concrete, reinforced, 2% steel (FE 360 8) , 1 00 mm

concrete anchor, high-alloy steel, 1 20 mm

fibre-cement sheets'


five-cement sheets, 8 mm
timber supporting construction, 30 mm

calcium silicate units, with ventilated cavity


calcium silicate units (KS Vb 20/1 .8) , mortar MG 1 1 , 1 1 5 mm

wall ties, steel , 80 mm





0.Q1 5







0.001 7







0.Q 1 8





The building envelope

External wall claddings

for origin of data see "Life cycle assessments", p. 1 00

primary energy

primary energy

[kg C02 eq]

[kg R1 1 eq]

[kg S02 eq]

[kg PO.eq]

[kg C2H.eq] [a]

facing masonry, with ventilated cavity






solid clay bricks (VMz 28/1 .8). mortar MG 1 1 , 1 1 5 mm

wall ties, steel, 80 mm

0. 1 1



0. 1 5


0.0 1 4




0. 1 5


0.0 1 3






0.01 3





0.0 1 8


Ceramic materials

ceramic panels, with ventilated cavity


VFH ceramic panels, 30 mm

aluminium sections, 60 mm




;, 80

profiled glass, single-leaf'


profiled glass (channel). 498 x 41 mm, glass 6 mm thick

aluminium frame, silicone joint, 40 mm

toughened safety glass'


toughened safety glass, 6 mm

patent glazing bar, aluminium, EPDM gasket, 40 mm

insulating glass Ug = 1 . 1 '


double glazing, argon filling, 24 mm

patent glazing bar, aluminium, EPDM gasket, 40 mm

insulating glass Ug = 0.7"


triple 91azing, argon filling, 36 mm

patent glazing bar, aluminium, EPDM gasket, 40 mm
glass double facade













2 1 62








1 68



0.01 7


70- 1 00

0. 1 1




1 .29



80- 1 00

0. 1 5


0.0 1 0

70 - 1 00




0.01 6

0.001 7


toughened safety glass, 6 mm

aluminium supporting framework, 250 mm
double glazing, argon filling, 24 mm
corrugated aluminium sheeting
corrugated aluminium sheeting, 1 mm
aluminium supporting construction, 30 mm

trapezoidal steel sheeting, coated


trapezoidal steel sheeting, coated, 0.75 mm

galvanised steel supporting construction, 30 mm

copper sheet

1 091






copper sheet with double welt standing seams, 0.7 mm

particle board P5, 22 mm

c:=====rI D

titanium-zinc sheet'


sheet titanium-zinc with double welt standing seams, 0.7 mm

particle board P5, 22 mm

stainless steel sheet'






0.00001 4

0.00001 1

stainless steel sheet with double welt standing seams, 0 . 7 mm _

particleboard P5, 22 mm

80- 1 00

wooden shingles/shakes



red cedar shakes, single-lap tiling, 16 mm

timber supporting construction, 48 mm




larch weatherboarding, dispersion glaze, 24 mm

timber supporting construction, 30 mm


1 89

building-grade veneer plywood, 1 6 mm

timber supporting construction, 30 mm









0.0 1 8









Synthetic materials
plastic sheet

1 099



four-walled sheet, polycarbonate, 40 mm

patent glazin9 bar, aluminium, EPDM gasket

For plasters, renders and thermal insulation composite systems, please refer to "Surfaces and coatings", p. 201 .
C 1 .38


The building envelope


'0 55


o o _________________

Reed, straw
Flat overlap. elem.
Stone slabs laid loose
Wooden shingles/shakes
Natural/fibre-cement slates
Clay/concrete tiles
Clay/concrete tiles
Pro!. overlap. elem.
Glass, plastic
Flat sheets
Profiled sheets
Metal with welted joints Sheets
Flexible sheeting
Plastics, rubber

Couple roof
Framing in plane of roof Purlin roof
Vertical framing
with king post
In situ concrete roof
standard applications
with additional measures

C 1 .39 Relationship between material and roof pitch

C 1 .40 Green roofs, office building, Vienna, Austria,
2001 , Oelugan-Meissl
C 1 .4 1 Systematic classification of materials according to
principle of roof covering and roof waterproofing
C 1 .42 Jointing principles:
a overlapping flat elements
b overlapping profiled elements
c welted joints (sheet metal)
d clamping of flat sheets
e soldering of sheet metal
f welding and bonding of flexible sheeting

C 1 .39


The roof, as part of the building envelope and

loadbearing structure, shelters the building and
its occupants from the effects of the weather. It
protects against precipitation, carries wind ,
snow and imposed loads, and is part of the
thermal insulation system. There is a complex
relationship between building utilisation
requirements, types of construction and roof
forms. This is illustrated by the many d ifferent
types of roof influenced by cultural develop
ments, regional materials, manual techniques
and industrial developments, e.g. the thatched
couple roof, or the industrially prefabricated flat
Design principles

The overall roof construction generally consi sts

of various layers, each of which fulfils one or
more specific tasks, e . g . wearing course, cov
ering layer, waterproofing layer, load bearing
layer (e. g . battens, boards) , ventilation cavity,
insulation layer, loadbearing structure and
inner lining.
The schematic detailed drawings on p p . 1 22 ,

1 26 and 1 28 show typical examples of the

above layers and the options for variations
withi n the roof system. I rrespective of type of
covering, material and roof pitch, we can d istin
g u i sh between single- and double-skin roofs.
Double-skin roof
The double-skin roof is also known as a venti
lated roof or cold deck. The typical characteris
tic according to 01 N 41 08-3 is a ventilated air
layer d i rectly above the layer of insulation
(fig . C 1 .43) . This air layer g uarantees the
removal of any water vapour from the interior
that m ight d iffuse through the insulation. This
concept only works if the cross-sectional size
of the air layer is adequate and there is an
uninterrupted flow of air between the inlets and
Single-skin roof
The sing le-skin roof is also known as a non
venti lated roof or warm deck. The roof covering
or waterproofin g lies immediately on top of the
layer of insulation. A vapour barrier on the
inside prevents water vapour reaching the insu
lation (fig . C 1 .44) .

The disadvantages of the double-skin roof cor

respond to the advantages of the single-skin
roof as g iven here:

The overall depth of the roof construction is

The absence of an airflow means there is no
accelerated heat transport.
The roof construction is not subjected to any
moisture, timber components do not require
any chemical preservatives.
Ventilation openings are not required.
Fewer layers means simpler penetrations.
All the building performance requirements
can be integrated into one component (e.g .
compact roof) .

Covering and waterproofing

The uppermost layer of the roof generally pro

tects the building against preci pitation.
Depending on the roof covering material and
roof pitch, there are basically two ways of pre
venting the ingress of preci pitation: fast drain
ing from the building (pitched roofs) , or creat
i n g a barrier and draining the water to prede
fined points (flat and shallow-pitched roofs).
This results in the terms defined in DIN 4 1 08:
"covering" is a layer of overlapping compo
nents, and "waterproofing" is the sealed bond
ing of sheet materials. The denser the materials
and the tighter their joints with one another, the
shallower the pitch can be. Fig. C 1 .39 illus
trates the relationship between material and
roof pitch.
Jointing principles

The primary classification of the materials for

roof covering and roof waterproofing is carried
out accordi n g to their form (fig C 1 .41 ) . Funda
mental methods for jointin g , junctions and fix
ing can be derived from this classification and
explained by means of examples. The list of
potential materials is constantly increasing due
C 1 .40

1 20

The building envelope

Materials for roof covering and roof waterproofing

Roof covering


Diminishing roof pitch

Flat overlapping

Profiled overlapping


wooden shakes/

clay roof tiles:





flat pan tiles

fibre-cement slates

under- and over-tiles

asphalt shingles

Roman tiles
French tiles

wire-cut tiles
pressed tiles
bullnose tiles
concrete roof tiles

interlocking pantiles
interlocking flat pan
adjustable head lap

Flat sheets





Profiled sheets




corrugated fibre


cement sheets
corrugated bitumen
corrugated plastic



Roof waterproofing

Flexible sheeting


synthetic materials:

stainless steel


galvanised steel

elastomeric sheeting



galvanised steel
coated and
galvanised steel
stainless steel

Roman tiles
double Roman tiles

C 1 .41

to regional differences and the appearance of

new products.
Overlapping joints
Roof coverings consist of individual compo
nents that are laid in an offset, overlapping
arrangement so that they drain the rainwater.
Together with an appropriate roof pitch, this
type of joint results in a rainproof but not water
proof roof. Additional layers provide further pro
tective functions, e . g . against drifting snow and
driving rain.

Flat overlapping elements such as wooden

shingles or clay bull nose tiles require a steep
roof pitch because otherwise water can pass
through the side joints and reach the layers
underneath. Multiple overlapping both parallel
with and transverse to the roof slope guaran
tee that the water is drained reliably. Thatched
roofs are based on the same, overlapping
Profiled overlapping elements have a form that
prevents water penetrating the side joints. The
simplest are the under- and over-tiles: the
under-tiles (tegula) form a channel to drain the
water, the over-tiles (imbrex) cover the space
in between.
Double Roman tiles and other special forms
have interlocking ribs on one or more s i des,
this enables shallower roof pitches because
each tile covers the head, tai l and side joints
and presents an effective barrier to water.
Welted seams are used to join sheet meta l .
The side joints o f the sheet metal lie above the
water run-off leve l . The pieces of sheet metal
are bent up and over (stand i n g seam) , or the
bent-up edges are covered by an add itional
strip of metal (batten roll seam) . The transverse
joints are in the form of overlaps, welted seams
and steps in the fal l , which drain the water reli
ably. The principle of the welted seam is simi
lar to that of the profiled overlapping element.

Sealed joints
Roof waterproofing materials form a coherent
waterproof layer. Large-format sheets, sheet
metal and flexible sheeting have fewer joints
and are thus suitable for sealed joints.

Flat sheets of glass and plastic or sandwich

panels are joined together with metal sec
tions. With the help of patent glazin g wings!
caps and resilient gaskets made from syn
thetic materials, they form a watertight layer.
Sheet metals can be joined together and
made watertight by solderin g , stai n less steel
sheets by wel d i n g . Apart from stainless steel,
this form of jointing is only suitable for smaller
areas and elements because temperature
related changes in length can cause restraint
Flexi ble sheeting and membranes based on
bitumen, synthetic materials and rubber can
be bonded together to form watertight over
lapping joints. Solvents d issolve the surface
structure of polymers (solvent welding). Hot
air or flame guns reverse the structure of the
material so that it acts like an adhesive. These
two techniques are used to waterproof roofs
and basements reliably.

Roof covering

Roofs > 5 pitch can be covere d . Every roof

covering material is assigned to a range of roof
pitches at which the material can be properly
laid (figs C 1 .39 and C 1 .47) .
Although the materials for roof coverings and
external wall claddings can be identical, in
order to emphasise the character of the enclos
ing envelope, the roof surfaces are exposed to
the weather to a greater extent than the walls.
Accordingly, the materials for the roof coverin g
must be o f a better qual ity s o that the roof can
satisfy all requirements.


C 1 .42

1 21

The building envelope

C 1 .43 Single-skin roof construction, pitched, covering of








Roof covering
Separating layer
Ventil. air cavity
Vapour barrier
C 1 .43

The local conditions led to d ifferent forms of

roof over the course of the centuries. For exam
ple, in reg ions with heavy snowfall, roofs must
be conceived differently to roofs in windy
areas. Likewise, even today the availability of
regional building materials and the typ ical col
ours dominate the appearance of whole roofs
capes. Even social standing is reflected in the
choice of roof form, either to give the buildings
of important persons more prominence ( e . g .
domes) or t o al low ideological viewpoints a
form of expression.
"Why do we have the p itched roof? Some peo
ple believe it is a matter for romance and aes
thetics. But that is not the case. Every roofing
material demands a certain angle . . . . Apart
from small tiles and sheets we had no other
means of protecting us from rai n , snow and
storms . . . . Of course, the best solution always
seemed to be a roofing material consisting of
just one piece. Such a roofing material would
need only the angle necessary to allow the
water to drain away naturally." (Adolf Loos:
" D i e moderne Siedlung", lecture, 1 926)
Roof forms
The simplest form of pitched roof is the mono
pitch roof, and a row of monopitch roofs pro
duces a sawtooth roof. In Central Europe the
duopitch roof - in the form of (close) couple
and purl in roofs - is the most common form.
The hipped roof is among the oldest forms.





Roof covering
Tiling battens
Ventil. air cavity
Ventil. air cavity
Thermal insulation
Vapour barrier
I n ner lining
C 1 .44

Curved roof forms such as barrel vault, dome

and onion play special roles.
Every roof form calls for the specific design of
its constituent parts. Appropriate laying tech
niques g uarantee a rainproof result, and there
are even complete roofing systems with which
manufacturers can provide solutions with differ
ently shaped parts. These special parts form
the edges of the roof surface (ridge, verge ,
eaves) and ensure that they function correctly.
They also i ncorporate i nto the roof surface
openings such as roof windows, chimneys and
other penetrations.
The recommended roof pitch is the lowest
angle at which a certain type of roof covering
has proved to be rainproof without fixi n g ele
ments and special seals.

Reed and straw are laid in the form of long

bundles with a d iameter of 1 40-1 70 mm. They
are fixed to the horizontal battens with tyi n g
wire and sways (small sticks) in individual,
overlapping layers starting at the eaves and
proceed i n g towards the ridge. No tying wire
should be visi ble on the surface of the roof. The
thickness of thatch is approx. 350 mm for
reed, approx. 300 mm for straw (fi g . C 1 .46 a) .
The chimney must pass through the ridge. Dor
mer windows are roof openings that req u i re a
steep pitch and rounded junctions to prevent
ingress of rainwater. A double-skin roof con
struction (pitch 45) prevents a build-up of

C 1 .45
1 22

sheet metal with welted joints (schematic)

C 1 .44 Double-skin roof construction, pitched, covering
of interlocking plain clay tiles (schematic)
C 1 .45 Sheet metal covering, Pavilion, Zeewolde,
Netherlands, 2001 , Rene van Zuuk
C 1 .46 Various types of roof coverings:
a thatch
b natural slates
c asphalt shingles
d plain (bullnose) clay roofing tiles, double-lap
e profiled wire-cut interlocking concrete roof tiles
f interlocking profiled (flat pan) clay roofing tiles
g corrugated metal sheets, stainless steel
h sheet aluminium with locked double welt
standing seams

moisture and rotting of the covering.

A thatched roof of reed will last between 30
and 50 years provided it is regularly main
tained, constant ventilation is ensured and
moss and pests are removed . Reed and straw
belong to building materials class B3 (highly
Wooden shakes and shingles

High-qual ity, slow-growing species of wood

with fine growth rings (without sapwood) are
used for producing split shakes or sawn shin
g les. We disti n guish between nai ling and laying
loose. Shakes/shingles for laying loose are
600-900 mm long, 70-300 mm wide and at
least 1 5 mm thick. They are laid offset with an
overlap and are wei ghted down with heavy
stones, and are therefore only suitable for roof
pitches of 1 7-22. They shou ld be taken up,
turned over and reversed, and relaid after 51 0 years.
Nailed shakes/shingles can have a tapered or
parallel form, are 1 20-800 mm long and 60350 mm wide. They should be m i n . 8 mm thick
at the tai l . Nailed shakes/shing les are fixed to
battens on counter battens with clout nails; fix
i n g d i rectly to the loadbearing board ing is not
recommended because there is no airflow
under the shakes/shingles and that compromis
es their durability.
The durabi l ity of a double-lap tiling arrange
ment of wooden shakes/shingles in years is
roughly equal to the roof p itch in degrees, but
70 years is the maximum. A proper roof construc
tion requires no chemical timber preservative.

The building envelope

Natural and fibre-cement slates

The clayey shale obtained from quarries is split

into approx. 5 mm thick slates at the works.
German slates have a blue-grey to black colour
depending on the reg ion from where they are
obtained . Other countries can supply red or
dark green slates. Fibre-cement slates are nor
mally grey in colour, but can be dyed or g iven
a coloured coatin g . They are 4 mm thick. I n
both these materials, components for the gen
eral roof surface and roof edges are given their
form in the works by milling or punching , by
cutting to a template, or manually. Natural
slates are normally supplied with holes, but can
be supplied without. Fibre-cement slates are
supplied with holes.
The shape of the slate determines the form of
roof covering: rectangular double-lap, diago
nal, German (curved or scalloped, equal sizes ) ,
or Old German (scal loped, unequal sizes ) .
The course o f slates are l a i d in a bond either
horizontally or at an angle, on battens or board
ing (fig. C 1 .46 b). They are fixed with nails,
clips or hooks. The larger the ind ividual slates,
the lower the pitch can be.

minimum overlap is determined by the spac

ing of the battens. Two nibs on the underside
of each tile prevent them slipping down the
roof (fig . C 1 .46 d ) .
I n crown tiling two rows of bullnose tiles are
hung on every batten with a half-tile offset.
The course on the next batten repeats the
pattern of joints to g ive a straight line from
eaves to ridge.
I n slip tiling there is no offset between individ
ual courses and 50 mm wide slips are placed
beneath the side joints so that rainwater can
not penetrate. The slips should not be visible
on the roof surface.

In addition, all side and transverse joints can

be "torched", i .e. filled with mortar, either from
outside during lay i n g , or from i nside after
wards. This mini mises the ingress of rai n , snow
and dust and also bonds the clay tiles together.
Clay tiles are usually simply laid on the roof
construction. However, as the roof pitch
increases, so wind suction has a greater effect
and can lead to tiles uplifti n g . I n such cases it
is necessary to fix the tiles with nails, screws or
c l i ps .

Asphalt shingles

Also known as strip slates, these are basically

the same material as flexible bitumen sheeting
(see "Bituminous building materials", p. 64) and
are 3-6 mm thick. A surface finish of coloured
mineral granules or chippings provides protec
tion against ultraviolet radiation. The shingles
are available in formats of approx. 1 000 mm
wide x 336 mm lon g . Two or three slits across
the width gives them their shingle-like appear
ance. Asphalt shing les are laid in a double-lap
arrangement offset by half or one-third of an
individual shingle and fixed with clout nails (fig .
C 1 .46 c) . Self-adhesive strips (melted b y the
action of solar radiation) on the top of the shin
gles bond the shing les together.
Asphalt shingles require a rigid supporting
construction made from tongue and groove
boards or wood-based boards. A layer of flexi
ble bitumen sheeting nailed to the board i n g
serves a s sheathin g .
Asphalt shingles w i l l last about 3 0 years provid
ed dust and dirt, which could form a substrate
for plants, is cleaned off regularly.
Flat overlapping clay roof tiles

Flat clay roof tiles are available without i nter

locking ribs (bullnose tiles ) , with deep side ribs
(wire-cut interlocking tiles) or with ribs on all
sides (flat pressed interlocking ti les) (see
"Ceramic materials", pp. 5 1 - 53 ) . The ribs pro
vide an overlap in both d i rections. They deter
mine the form of laying and the typical appear
ance of the respective type of til i n g . When
using clay roof tiles without any ribs, the tile
size, roof pitch and type of tiling define the min
imum overlap for the tiles. The following forms
of tiling are used:

Flat overlapping concrete roof tiles

Concrete roof tiles are g iven a acrylate-styrene

based coati ng to protect the concrete against
the effects of the weather and mechan ical
damage. Pigments can be added d uring mix
ing to provide colour. The surface finish resem
bles that of fired clay roof tiles. Flat concrete
roof ti les have deep twin side ribs and tai l ribs,
and the special elements for edges, roof pene
trations, etc. match these. They are laid l i ke
clay roof tiles; the format of the concrete roof
tile determines the spacing of the battens and
the overlap. Coverings of clay or concrete roof
tiles do not req u i re any reg u lar maintenance.
However, some care over the years (depend
ing on the degree of soiling) will increase their
longevity beyond 50 years, but junctions may
require repairs in the meantime.

Bullnose tiles in double-lap tiling form a half

tile bond. They are hung on batten s and the





Profiled overlapping clay roof tiles

The multitude of d ifferent clay roof tile shapes

and their dimensions depend on the manufac
turers - the standards specify only the require
ments for the material itself (fig C 1 .46f. The
same is true for concrete roof tiles. A general
classification into basic forms is therefore help

Clay roof tiles without i nterlocking ribs include

under- and over-tiles, clay flat pan tiles and
pantiles. If manufactured with nibs, these clay
tiles can be laid dry d i rectly on the battens, or
in mortar. Headlaps and side laps depend on
the shape of the tile.
On pantiles the right corner at the head and
the left corner at the tai l are splayed to avoid
a four-tile overlap at the corners.
In the case of Roman and double Roman tiles
and i nterlocking pantiles, it is the interlocking
ribs that determine the direction of laying,

1 23

The building envelope

Building Max.
materials load

Bending Tensile
strength strength


per unit
[kg/m ']


Water vapour

Wood shakeS/shingles (2-lap)
Natural slates
Fibre-cement slates
Asphalt shingles (single-lap)
Corr. fibre-cement sheets
Corrugated bitumen sheets

;, 45
;, 22
;, 22
;, 22
;, 1 5
;, 1 0
;, 7


1 . 2-2 . 1
0. 1 6

1 /2
800/1 000
70/ 1 30
virt. vapourtight
70/ 1 30

B2; B1

Flat clay roof tiles

wire-cut interlocking
pressed interlocking

;, 40'
;, 35
;, 25


1 .0
1 .0
1 .0



;, 600
;, 900
;, 900

Flat concrete roof tiles

with deep side rib

;, 25

60- 65

1 .5

60/ 1 00


;, 800'

Profiled clay roof tiles

under- and over-tiles
flat pan

;, 40
;, 35
;, 30
;, 22


1 .0
1 .0
1 .0
1 .0





Profiled concrete roof tiles

flat pan

;, 22


1 .5



;, 800'

1 09
1 60-235




;, 1 50

virt. vapourtight



Roof covering

Sheet metal (double welt standing seam)

;, 7
stainless steel
;, 7
galvanised steel
;, 7
;, 7
;, 7
Metal sheets
galvanised steel

;, 1 0

1 5 -30



[N/mm>] [N/mm>]
1 6 -28
1 6 -28
1 2 .2

1 000
1 200
1 200
1 200

8 - 30

8 - 30
8 - 30
8 - 30
8 - 30

, For crown and double-lap tiling: ;, 30 mm.

, Depends on the cover width: ,; 200 mm cover width = max. load ;, 800 N; ;, 300 mm cover width = max. load
;, 1 200 N; intermediate values may be interpolated.
3 Owing to the specific material properties. the strength is measured differently (see "Bituminous materials". p . 65).
C 1 .47

usually from right to left. Sometimes tiling with

an offset bond and a variable head lap is
. Tiles with an adjustable head lap enable the
overlap at the head of the tile to be varied by
up to 30 mm despite the presence of head
and tail ribs.

Precut splayed corners prevent four-sheet

overlaps at the corners.
The sheets are fixed to the supporting con
struction with screws, at least four per sheet,
through the crests of the corrugations. A seal
ing washer/cap between fastener and sheet
prevents ingress of water.

Profiled overlapping concrete roof tiles

Corrugated bitumen sheets

Concrete roof tiles cure after being moulded

and hardly shrink during production (fig . C 1 .46e).
I n some more elaborate forms of concrete roof
tile, e . g . double Roman, the tail ribs interlock
with the head ribs of the tile below and there
fore can be laid dry while still attaining a good
level of rainproofin g . They are laid in a similar
way to profiled overlapping clay roof tiles.

Plain sheets made from cellulose fibres are

impregnated with bitumen , shaped in presses
and allowed to dry. Coatings on an acrylic resin
basis give the sheets their colour and also help
to protect the surface. The maximum size avail
able is 2000 x 1 060 mm, and the sheets are
2.4- 3.0 mm thick. Edge and special compo
nents p l us translucent corrugated sheets of
PVC or g lass fibre-reinforced polyester resin
are also available.
Corrugated bitumen sheets are laid offset with
the corrugations parallel to the slope so that
rainwater can drain away easily. The side over
laps are equal to one corrugation. The end lap
of 1 40 - 1 60 mm depends on the roof pitch. The
sheets are fixed through the crests of the corru
gations with non-rusting nails with a PVC head,
or countersunk-head nails with a sealing wash
er. Run-off water that has drained across corru
gated bitumen sheets can cause corrosion on
unprotected metal parts, e . g . roof gutters,
which must be avoided at all costs. The sup
portin g construction of battens or boards must
al low for ventilation of the sheets.

Corrugated fibre-cement sheets

Owing to their large format (up to 2500 mm

long and 1 097 mm wide) , corrugated fibre
cement sheets can provide a rapi d covering to
roof pitches 7. They are divided i nto stand
ard-pitch and narrow-pitch types. The latter
have more corrugations than standard-pitch
sheets (over the same width), but are not as
deep. Special components for edges, junctions
and special purposes (e. g . translucent sheets
of glass fibre-reinforced plastic) complement
the range of standard sheets. The sheets are
laid starting at the eaves and proceeding
towards the ridge, usually from right to left.

1 24

Profiled metal sheets

Profiled metal sheets can be made from galva

nised, stainless or duplex-coated ( galvanis
ing + powder coating) steels, aluminium alloys
or copper. The shaping of the flat sheet metal,
0.5- 1 .5 mm thick, produces planar compo
nents with various trapezoidal, corrugated or
ribbed profiles, also metal panels. Composite
panels are produced by enclosing insulating
material between two metal sheets. The pro
d uction process limits the width to about
1 200 mm, the length is limited by the transport
The side overlaps of these sheets are equal to
one rib or corrugation. The fixing to the sup
porting structure is by way of screws, rivets or
c l i ps through the crests. Elongated holes and
sliding fixings are used to accommodate tem
perature-related changes in length. Additional
sealing washers prevent the ingress of wind
and water (fig . C 1 .46 g ) .

Sheet metal

Flat sheets of aluminium, lead, copper, stain

less stee l , galvanised steel and zinc are availa
ble in rolls. The minimum roof pitch is 3, but r
is recommended because standing water can
penetrate through the seams. Furthermore, as it
evaporates, the water can leave behind
aggressive substances on the surface of the
metal. Rainproof side joints between the bays
of sheet metal are ensured with single, double
or locked double welt standing seams, or vari
ous batten rol l s and, for sheet lead only, hol low
or wood-cored rolls (fig . C 1 .46 h ) . All the differ
ent types of side joints make use of the same
bent-up edge, which can be bent by hand or
machine. C l i ps fixed to the supporting con
struction are fitted into the side joints to create
a structural connection to the supporting con
struction. Nevertheless, they sti l l permit chang
es in length caused by temperature fluctua
tions. The transverse joints are overlapped and
Sheet metal roof coverings are very durable
(70 -80 years for copper, lead and stainless
steel) and are suitable for shallow pitches and
curved surfaces. The width of the sheets and
the material chosen g ive the final roof surface
its characteristic appearance. Double-skin roof
constructions prevent a build-up of moisture
below the vapour-tight metal covering. The
supporting construction is usually made from
timber boards.

The building envelope

Roof waterproofing systems

Flexible synthetic and rubber sheeting

Flexible bitumen sheeting

made from polymer

modified bitumen

with thermoplastic
Elastomer bitumen

with thermoplastic
Elastomer bitumen


Butyl rubber

Unplasticised polyvinyl


Ethylene copolymer bitumen

Chlorosulphonated poly

Chlorinated polyethylene

with thermoplastic
C 1 .4 7 Physical parameters of roof
C 1 .48 Systematic classification of
roof waterproofing systems

Plastomer bitumen

Roof waterproofing

Flat and shallow-pitched roofs require a water

proofing or sealing layer because water cannot
drain away quickly enough. This watertight
layer covers the entire roof surface and
includes penetrations and junctions. The sur
faces of flat roofs can be used in many ways,
e.g. as open landscaped areas, for parkin g , as
circulation areas in urban surroundings (e.g.
above basement parking), or as rooftop gardens.
Flat and shallow-pitched roofs

The term "flat roof" is difficult to define precise

ly. We can class roofs with a p itch 5: 5 as flat,
and those with pitches up to 25 as shallow
pitched. However, the German Flat Roof Guide
lines speak of flat roofs with waterproofin g but
without stating an angle. In order to avoid
ponding, the fall of the roof should be at least
2%. Shallower falls must be regarded as spe
cial constructions.
The multitude of possible types of construction
for flat and shallow-pitched roofs is due to the
number of layers, which perform various func
tions and together form that complex system
known as a flat roof. Single-skin designs are
favoured in practice. These can be classed
according to the position of the roof waterproof
ing within the system of layers.
Conventional flat roof
The waterproofing lies above the thermal insu
lation. A vapour barrier must be i ncluded to
protect the insulating material against moisture
from the interior of the building. Depend i n g on
the method of laying the waterproofin g , gravel
can be used as protection against wind suc
tion, heat and ultraviolet radiation (fig . C 1 .49) .
Should any leaks occur, water tends to seep
underneath the layers of the conventional flat

made from elastomers

(rubber sheeting)

made from thermoplastics

(synthetic sheeting)

Flexible unsaturated poly

ester resins
Flexible polyurethane resins
Flexible polymethyl

Chloroprene rubber
Thermoplastic elastomers

Alloys of flexible polyolefins

C 1 .48

Compact roof
The compact roof is simi lar to the conventional
flat roof. Cellular g lass slabs laid in hot bitumen
serve as thermal i nsulation, and a vapour barri
er is unnecessary. This plus the fully bonded
flexible waterproof sheeting prevents any water
seepi n g underneath.
Upside- down roof
I n this roof the insulation is laid above the
waterproofing and therefore protects it against
mechanical loads. The loosely laid insulating
material should not absorb any water, and it is
usually made from expanded polystyrene
(EPS) . Grave l , stone/concrete flags or planting
secures the insulating material against wind
suction and upl ift. The roof waterproofing func
tions both as drainage level and vapour barrier
(fig . C 1 .50) .
The duo-roof is a combination of conventional
flat roof and upside-down roof. There are two
layers of thermal insulation - one above and
one below the waterproofing . If a roof is given a
new layer of insulation ( e . g . in the case of add
i n g rooftop plantin g ) , this is known as a duo
roof. In the case of refurbishment work, this
type of roof is known as a plus-roof when a new
layer of waterproofing is laid on top of the exist
i n g , insulated roof construction, and further
insulation is laid on top of this.

Flexible bitumen sheeting

Bituminous sheeting consists of a backing

soaked in straight-run bitumen and coated on
both sides with a facing layer of blown bitumen.
Sheeting made from polymer-modified bitumen
uses strai g ht-run bitumen (including thermo
plastic or elastomeric additives) for the facing
layer and for soaking the inlays. Depending on
the type of sheeting, a surface finish protects
against ultraviolet radiation (see "Bituminous
materials" , pp. 64-65). Bituminous sheeting is
suitable for waterproofing roofs and basements.
Bituminous waterproofing can only claim to be
permanently watertight when at least two layers
are used, one on top of the other, which are
bonded or welded together to form a homoge
neous layer. The following methods have
become establ ished in practice:

Flexible waterproof sheeting

Flexible waterproof sheetin g can be d ivided

into bitumen, synthetic (thermoplastics) and
rubber (elastomers) groups. Each group has its
specific properties, resulting in different meth
ods of working and different arrangements.
Provided they are compatible, different types of
flexible waterproof sheeting can be combined.

Pouring and rol ling: the (polymer-modified)

bitumen sheeting is rolled out and pressed
down into a hot bitumen compound that is
poured ahead of the material. There must
always be a continuous bulge of compound
just ahead of the rol l of material.
Felt torching: the underside of suitable sheet
ing can be melted with a propane gas torch
as it is unrolled and pressed down onto the
roof surface.
Mop p i n g : the hot bitumen compound can be
spread over the roof before unrolling the
sheetin g . There must always be a continuous
bulge of compound just ahead of the roll of
Cold a p p l i cation: self-adhesive sheeting has
an adhesive appl ied to the underside of the
sheeting by the manufacturer.

Depending on the type of roof construction, the

first layer of sheeting can be fully bonded to the
substrate or just with spots or strips of bonding

1 25

The building envelope


compound. If mechanical fixings are being

used , the first layer of sheeting is laid loose.
Overlaps at all joints must be at least 80 mm.
To avoid multiple overlaps at the same place,
further layers are laid with a corresponding off
set, but parallel with the first layer.
From a material point of view, it is also possible
to combine d ifferent types of flexible bitumen
sheetin g , or to lay a combination of synthetic
and bitumen sheetin g . However, compatibility
between the d ifferent types must be assure d .

2 3 4 5

BV - bitumen-compatible
NB - not bitumen-compatible
P - plasticised
K - lamination
V - reinforcement
E - inlay
GV - glass fleece
GW - glass cloth
PV - polyester fleece
PW - polyester cloth
PPV - polypropylene fleece


Heat Vapour

Thermal insulation
Vapour barrier
Loadbearing structure

Flexible synthetic a n d rubber sheeting

C 1 .49

2 3 4 5




Synthetic and rubber sheeting can be used for

waterproofing roofs and basements.
D I N 1 8 53 1 and 1 8 1 95 specify the materials,
applications, dimensions and laying tech
niques. Synthetic and rubber sheeting is made
from thermoplastic and elastomeric materials
respectively, with or without a backin g . Tear
resistance, tear propagation, temperature-relat
ed changes in length and how the sheeting
adheres to the substrate are all influenced by
the backing. Although sometimes referred to as
a plastic fi l m , this is incorrect because films are
max. 0.8 mm thick, and the thickness of this
sheetin g is 1 -3 mm. Sheeting pre-joined at the
works to cover a large area is also available.


Thermal insulation
Vapour barrier
Loadbearing structure
C 1 .50

C 1 .49 Conventional flat roof (schematic)

C 1 .50 Upside-down roof (schematic)
C 1 .51 Roof waterproofing with flexible synthetic sheeting
at pipe penetration
C 1 .52 Physical parameters of roof waterproofing

I n contrast to flexible bitumen sheeting, the
synthetic sheeting is normally resistant to ultra
violet radiation. In addition, it and its welded
seams exhibit good root resistance. However, a
single layer of waterproofing is vulnerable to
mechanical damage, but this can be prevented
by a layer of loose gravel with rounded grains
( 1 6/32 mm), or plantin g . A m u ltitude of prefabri
cated special components is available, e . g .
junctions for internal a n d external corners, roof
vents, drainage outlets, etc. Such components
ease the waterproofing of complex roof
Some types of sheeting made from thermoplas
tic materials are resistant to chemicals - with
the exception of some solvents. They can be
heated up and moulded in order to waterproof
complicated details and junctions. Once the
material cools, it sol idifies again.
Owin g to their Iow-density cross-linked molecu
lar structure, sheeting made from elastomeric
materials has a rubbery elastic nature and can
not be remoulded upon heatin g . However, its
resistance to chemicals and solvents and its
good d urab i l ity with respect to environmental
influences make this a very d urable form of roof
waterproofing .
Types of sheeting
A typical standardised sheeting designation
would be D I N 1 6 734-PVC-P-NB-1 .5-V-PW.
This describes the standard , type of material,
specific properties, sheeting thickness in milli
metres, sheeting make-up and type of inlay:

C 1 .5 1

1 26

Owing to the multitude of different types of
sheetin g , the manufacturers must specify prod
uct-related properties and hence the applica
tions. In principle, the following applies:

Non-laminated, unreinforced sheeting types

without an i n lay are rarely used in practice.
However, they are suitable for roofs with a
complete, uniform covering (e. g . flags, grav
el), bonded laying methods or for waterproof
ing basements.
A lamination on the underside of the sheeting
improves the adhesion characteristics for full
or partial (spoVstrip) bonding and can protect
the sheeting against a rough substrate.
The improved tear resistance of types of
sheeting with a cloth inlay are suitable for use
with mechanical fixings because the inlay
diminishes the resilience of the sheeting.
Fleece inlays likewise reduce the resilience.
On roofs with a complete, uniform covering
( e . g . flags, gravel), sheeting with a fleece
i nlay is usually preferred .

Roof waterproofi n g with synthetic and rubber
sheeting is usually carried out with just one
layer of material. Separating layers between
sheeting and substrate prevent chemical reac
tions in the case of i ncompatib i l ity (e.g.
between PVC sheeting and polystyrene insula
tion or bitumen) .
Mechanical fixings are suitable for sheeting
with a high tear strength and for lightweight
supportin g constructions. The mechanical fix
ing comprises fixing bars or fasteners in the
substrate consisting of fastener plus retaining
washers. The fasteners are positioned at a reg
ular spacing along the edge of the sheeting
and are welded to the next piece of sheeting
with an overlap. Continuous metal sections or
strips are positioned at the necessary spacing
and covered with additional strips of sheeting
approx. 200-250 mm wide. The number of fix
ings depends on the wind suction loads calcu
lated. Full or partial bonding is carried out with
hot bitumen and polyurethane adhesives,
which bond the sheeting to the substrate. In the
case of bituminous adhesives, the bitumen
compatibility must be checke d .
Some types o f sheeting a r e manufactured with
a self-adhesive coating on the back for full

The building envelope

Flexible sheeting

Uncoated bitumen-saturated sheeting
Bitumen roofing felt with felt inlay
Bitumen roofing felt with
glass fleece base
Bitumen sheeting for waterproofing
of roofs
Bitumen waterproof sheeting for
felt torching
with jute cloth
with glass cloth
with glass fleece
with polyester fleece
Flexible bitumen sheeting
with metal inlay




R 500 N
R 500
V 1 1 ; V 13

52 1 29
52 1 28


Max. tensile
force [N]

Max. elongation Min. tearing

strength [N / mm>] at tear [%]
long. trans.
1 .5

1 .5



1 000

1 000



1 000

1 000







1 50

1 50

52 1 30;

J 300 DD; J 300 84; J 300 85

G 200 DD; G 200 84; G200 85
V 60 84
PV 200 DD; PV 200 85
Cu 0.1 0; AI 0.2 0

Polymer-modified bitumen
Polymer-modified bitumen sheeting
for waterproofing of roofs
Polymer-modified bitumen waterproof
sheeting for felt torching
with glass cloth
PYE-G 200 DD; PYE-G 200
84; PYE-G 200 G5; PYP-G
200 84; PYP-PV 200 85
with polyester fleece
PYE-PV 200 DD; PYP-PV 200 DD;
PYE-PV 200 85; PYP-PV 200 85
Cold-applied self-adhesive
bitumen sheeting

52 1 3 1

1 8 1 90-4



52 1 32
52 1 33
- 25 - 1 00;
- 1 5 - 1 30
1 8 1 95-2

Ethylene copolymer bitumen
Chlorinated polyethylene
Polyvinyl chloride, unplasticised


1 6 736
1 6 731
1 6 730

depends on
depends on
depends on
depends on
depends on

Chloroprene rubber
Chlorosulphonated polyethylene
Ethylene-propylene-diene rubber
Isobutylene-isoprene rubber


1 6 733

- 20 to 70
- 20 to 70
- 20 to 70
- 20 to 70

1 6 732


3 - 3.5

1 0 -1 8

> 330

5 - 9.8


> 550
> 800
350-540 350-540
> 450
> 450

> 330

C 1 .52

bonding to the substrate. Roof waterproofing

beneath a complete, uniform covering (e.g.
planting, gravel) can dispense with fixings and
bonding provided the load of the covering can
withstand the wind suction forces.
The quality of the overall roof waterproofin g
depends on t h e quality o f the seams. This calls
for careful cutting of the sheeting (especially at
the edges) , avoiding folds, creases and ten
sion, and ensuring that the sheeting is turned
up 1 00-1 50 mm above the top of the roof fin
ishes at all junctions and terminations.
Sheeting made from thermoplastic materials
can be connected homogeneously with suita
ble solvents (solvent welding. In doing so, the
overlap should be approx. 50 mm, depending
on the type of fixing (min. 30 mm for a welded
seam) .
Hot air (temperature at nozzle approx. 600C)
can be blown into the overlap to weld the
sheeting together. Using a roller, the softened
sheeting is then pressed together to form a
welded jOint min. 30 mm wide. Heat fusing with
a heat gun uses the same principle.
Owing to their cross-linked molecular structure,
sheeting made from elastomeric materials can
not be welded (exception: partially cross-linked

CSM and some other materials) . I nstead , a con

tact adhesive is spread over the surfaces to be
joined and once the adhesive has gone off, the
sheeting is pressed together with a m i n . 50 mm
overlap. Hot vulcanising is suitable for off-site
prefabrication. The seams produced using this
method have the same properties as the sheet
i n g itself.

Roofs for circulation

Waterproofed surfaces on buildings and civil

engineering works can be used as circulation
areas (e.g. flat roofs and basement parki n g ) .
Besides the structural load-carrying capacity,
they require a suitable finish that is not con
nected directly to the structure and also pre
serves the flexible sheetin g . An upside-down
roof can be used to provide permanent protec
tion for the high-quality flexible sheetin g . Finish
es for roofs with foot traffic can be d ivided into
three groups depending on type of layin g , type
of jointing and the contact with the roof water
Permanent finishes
Cement screeds, asphalt and flags in mortar
are among the permanent roof finishes. I n

order to avoid stresses, movement joints must

be i ncluded at certain intervals. The finishes
must be laid to a fal l of 1 .5% so that surface
water can drain readily.
Loose finishes
Like in the building of footpaths, flags (e.g. con
crete or stone) and paviors (e.g. concrete,
stone or timber) can be laid in a bed 50 mm
thick that allows some movement. The bed con
sists of sand (risk of washing out, poor water
seepage) or fine gravel or chippings separated
from the layer of sand by a non-woven fabric fil
ter. The advantage of this is that it allows some
of the water to seep away. An additional drain
age mat carries the seepage water to gutters or
outlets. It i s not essential to lay the finishes to a
fal l .
Raised finishes
I n this case a finish of stone/concrete flags of
timber is raised above the roof waterproofing.
Provided the underlying layers have sufficient
compressive strength, the advantages of this
type of construction are its low self-weight,
q u ick installation and absence of fal l s because
the water simply drains through the open joints
onto the roof waterproofing below and from
there flows to the concealed outlets. Simple


The building envelope

(fig . C 1 .55). Such plants demand specific sub

strates and thicker layers, and they must be
constantly cared for and watered.





Plant-bearing layer
Filter fleece
Drainaqe laver

if required
6 Waterproofing
7 Thermal insulation
8 Vapour barrier

C 1 .53

sawn timber is used under the uprights, or mor

tar sacks or height-adjustable supports with an
X-joint. Numerous systems are avai lable on the

Green roofs

By adding landscaping and plantin g to roofs, it

is possible to gain multiple uses from roofs over
private or public areas. Besides the aesthetic
aspects, the areas of greenery and planting
can provide leisure and recreation zones. From
the ecological viewpoint, landscaped surfaces
on structures improve the microclimate of the
urban environment by evening out temperature
peaks, increasing the humid ity of the air and
bonding dust and d i rt better than gravel-cov
ered roof surfaces. Furthermore, areas of p lant
ing protect the roof waterproofing against u ltra
violet radiation. Owing to their layer of vegeta
tion, green roofs are classed as combustible.
They must therefore satisfy requirements
regarding distances from neighbouring build
ings and they require incombustible thermal
insulation. The additional layers for the planting
increase the thermal insulation effect and func
tion as a basin for retaining precipitation water
- they store the water and release it again later.
Flat and shallow-pitched roofs up to approx.
25 are suitable for planting. The steeper the
slope, the greater is the work req u i re d to retai n
the water a n d prevent slippage. We d istinguish
between extensive and intensive rooftop plant
ing irrespective of the function of the area.

Starting with the standard construction of the

single- and double-skin roof, further layers are
added in order to meet the req u i rements for a
green roof. Sometimes ind ividual layers provide
more than one function, in other cases not all
functions are req uire d . The sequence of layers
from outside to inside is, in principle: plants,
plant-bearing layer, filter, drainage layer, pro
tection mat, root barrier, separating layer,
waterproofing (fig . C 1 .53) . Basically, it is also
possible to add planting to an upside-down
Moss and sedum varieties plus many plants
that seed themselves or form shoots spread out
over the roof surface according to season and
weather conditions. A permanently green sur
face can only be achieved with intensive
rooftop planting, which is then akin to a garden.

layer because such particles would impair the

drainage function. If the grains of the plant
bearing layer are coarse and those of the
drainage layer fine, the drainage layer act as a
filter. Loose mineral materials, boards and non
woven fabrics (PA, PP, PET, glass fibre or rock
wool) are available for use as filters.
Drainage layer
The excess water seeping down from the
plants is carried away to outlets and g utters via
the drainage layer in order to avoid a build-up
of water. At the same time, the drainage layer
has the task, through a medium pore size, to
store some of the seepage water for the plants.
Roots then penetrate the drainage layer. It cor
responds to the natural subsoil and can be
classified in a similar way to the plant-bearing

Plant-bearing layer
The plant-bearing layer (substrate) has the task
of storing or draining water, retaining nutrients
and providing a firm hold for the roots of the
plants. The thickness of the layer, the particle
size and form, the constituents and its water
retention capacity determine the plant varieties
that can be planted. On pitches 1 5 a vegeta
tion mat prevents erosion of the substrate . The
different plant-bearing layers are classified
according to form and composition:

loose materials with varying organic and inor

ganic proportions and porous structures, e . g .
mineral-organic soil mixes, humus, lava
mixes, pumice, expanded clay
slabs of mineral wool or mineral-enriched
polyurethane foam
mats of natural and synthetic fibres together
with loose materials

Depending on the roof pitch, uncrushed (<;; 5)

and broken (<;; 20) loose m ineral materials
can be used. On roof pitches > 20 additional
grids of battens are required to prevent slip
Drainage mats of expanded polystyrene
(EPS) , bitumen-bonded extruded polystyrene
beads (XPS) and mou lded, foamed boards
can be used , even for roof pitches exceeding
20, provided they are secured against slip
Mats of textured non-woven fabric, embossed
sheets (PE, rubber) or welded, recycled fla
kes of plastic foam (PE) exhibit a good drai
nage performance for a minimum thickness
( 1 0-35 mm). However, they store little or no

Root barrier
The long-term root penetration resistance of
waterproof sheeting depends on its composi
tion. If sheeting and seams are not permanently
resistant to root penetration, metal or polyester
i nlays in bitumen sheeting or an additional root
barrier (e. g . polyethylene sheeting) will be
required over the entire roof surface.

The filter layer prevents fine particles seeping
from the plant-bearing layer into the drainage

Extensive rooftop planting

This type of planting requires less work during
preparation, establishment and subsequent
care because only low-level , droug ht-resistant
plant varieties are chosen and the roof con
struction comprises only thin layers. This type
of planting is often used on pitched roofs or
added subsequently to gravel-covered flat
roofs (fig . C 1 .54) .
Intensive rooftop planting
I ntensive planting includes shear-resistant
grass zones suitable for foot traffic, p lus taller
grasses and shrubs, even ind ividual trees
C 1 .54

1 28

C 1 .55

The building envelope


Coated cloth

polyester cloth

Uncoated or
impregnated cloth

glass clotht

glass cloth
Laminated cloth


glass cloth

In the construction industry we associate the

term membrane with lightweight, long-span sur
faces in tension made from thin, light-permea
ble textiles or films. Membranes are used in
conjunction with cables in tension and steel,
concrete or timber columns in compression.
During the 1 950s, at the same time as develop
ments in synthetic composite materials, engi
neers began to develop membranes as protec
tion against the weather and solar radiation or
as temporary roofs. In addition, the develop
ment of new materials and multi-layer mem
branes have made permanent roof construc
tions possible that can comply with complex
building performance requirements.

PTFE cloth
cotton cloth
monofilament cloth made from
fluorocarbon resins
perforated ETFE film
perforated PC film

Low-e glass cloth

Stainless steel fabric

Gas-tight membrane

ow-e glass cloth

C 1 .56


Isotropic materials exhibit approximately identi

cal mechanical properties in all d irections.
Such materials include metal foils and thermo
plastic materials.
Textiles form the foundation for membranes
made from anisotropic materials. They are
d ivided into three groups accordi n g to their
method of manufacture:

polyester cloth

low-e glass cloth

tion, e . g . sphere, dome or cylinder. Such forms

req u i re a supporting construction which is sur
rounded by the membrane, or pneumatic pres
sure from inside that tensions the membrane.
Anticlastic forms are surfaces curved in two
directions; they are inherently stable and
require no supporting structure (e. g . hyperbolic
paraboloid ) .

PC capillary
structure mat

Sound insulation



Membranes can only accommodate tensile

forces. As the tensile forces of the spanned
surfaces in plane structures approach infinity
and wind and precipitation cause severe oscil
lations and deformations, membrane construc
tions require three-dimensional, prestressed or
pre-curved planar geometries. We disti nguish
between synclastic and anticlastic forms. Syn
clastic forms are surfaces curved in one direc-

Thermal insulating


inseparable glass cloth

polyester cloth

ETFE film
THV film
PVC film


Special materials

Open-pore materials

Closed-pore materials

mesh products (knitted fabrics)

woven products (cloths)
non-woven products (fleeces, felts, nets)

As cloths consist of warp and weft threads in

an approximately orthogonal arrangement,
exhibit a non-linear force-elongation progres
sion and are non-elastic, they are i deal for
carrying loads.

The yarns used can be made from the following


Depen d i n g on the type of weave, the untreated

cloth exhib its anisotropic properties, i.e. d iffer
ent mechanical parameters in the warp and
weft d irections. Uncoated cloths are an end
product i n themselves.
A coating of PVC, silicone or PTFE can be
added to both sides of the cloth after pretreat
ment to im prove the adhesion of the coating.
Coatings protect the cloth against moisture
(g lass cloth), ultraviolet radiation (polyester
cloth), fire and infestation by microorganisms.
They thus improve the durability and soiling
behaviour of the membrane materials. Coated
cloths can be welded as well as sewn and
g lued together.
In order to refine the surface finish and improve
the soiling and cleaning characteristics, mem
branes can be additionally sealed with materi
als based on fluoropolymers or acrylic resins.


C 1 .58

natural fibres
mineral fi bres
metallic fi bres
fibres from thermoplastic materials

Single-skin green roof construction (schematic)

Extensive rooftop planting
Intensive rooftop planting, raised roof finish
Systematic classification of membrane materials
PVC-coated polyester cloth, roof to main grandstand, sports stadium, Oldenburg, Germany,
1 996, Architektengemeinschaft Marschweg
C 1 .58 PVC-coated glass-fibre cloth (two layers, pneu
matic), velodrome, Aigle, Switzerland, 2002,
Pascal Grand

1 .53
1 .54
1 .55
1 .56
1 .57

1 29

The building envelope

per unit


[g / m2]
ETFE film

THV film

Uncoated cloth
cotton cloth

50 m
80 m
1 00 m
1 50 m
200 m
500 m


PTFE cloth

Coated cloth
polyester cloth

glass cloth

1 40
1 75

Type I
Type I I
Type I I I
Type IV
Type V
Type VI

glass-fibre cloth
aramid-fibre cloth
ETFE cloth

1 050
1 300
1 450
1 1 50
1 550
1 270

Ten_ strength
on D I N 53353
(guide only)
[N / 5 cm]

Building Buckling
materials resistance
[- to 0]




[- to 0]


up to 96



1 700/1 000
2390/22 1 0
4470/45 1 0


up to 37
up to 37
up to 37

1 3 000/1 3 000
24 500/24 500
1 200/ 1 200


up to 20
up to 1 7.5
up to 1 5
up to 1 2.5
up to 1 0
up to 7.5
up to 25
up to 25
basically zero
basically zero
up to approx. 90


up to approx. 95


















C 1 .59 Physical parameters of membrane materials

C 1 .60 PTFE-coated glass-fibre cloth, carport, municipal
waste management depot, Munich, Germany,
1 999, Ackermann & Partner

C 1 .59
C 1 .61 ETFE foil cushions, Allianz Arena, Munich, Ger
many, 2005, Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron
C 1 .62 Life cycle assessment data for roof coverings and
roof waterproofing systems

Applications and properties

Material categories

Membranes can be erected considerably faster

than conventional roofs because the material is
cut to size and all the edges are prepared prior
to delivery.
Owing to the low weight of 200-1 500 g / m2,
movable roofs like the tennis court at Rothen
baum, Hamburg, Germany (see Example 25,
pp. 261 -63) , and long-span structures free
from intervening columns can be erected.
Multi-layer membrane systems satisfy add ition
al thermal insulation criteria (U-values from 2 . 7
down to 0.8 W/m2K); they also improve the
sound insulation.
Transparent films have a higher UV radiation
permeability than glass, which can be an
advantage for indoor swimming pools and
Multi-layer, pneumatic, prestressed membrane
constructions made from films (cushions) pro
vide thermal insulation in conjunction with good
translucency and transparency. In a three-layer
arrangement the pneumatic adjustment of the
middle layer results in different degrees of l i g ht
transmission when the middle and u pper mem
branes are printed with offset l i g ht-reflective
Membrane systems for the active use of solar
energy are currently undergoing development.

Membrane materials can be classed as water

tight, closed-pore, and water-permeable, open
pore materials because the watertightness is
usually the primary application criterion.


C 1 .60

Closed-pore materials
The technical properties of PVC-coated polyes
ter cloth and PTFE-coated g lass cloth enable
them to be used externally as protection from
the weather. PVC-coated polyester cloth with
various surface finishes is suitable for movable
and reusable membrane constructions thanks
to its good buckl i n g resistance. It is not read ily
flammable and, at 1 5 -20 years, relatively long
lastin g .
PTFE-coated g l ass cloth is incombusti ble and
will remain serviceable for more than 25 years.
It has a self-cleaning surface and owing to its
coatin g does not absorb any moisture. The
translucency can be controlled between 0%
and 50% by adjusting the density of the cloth
and the thickness of the coating. However, it is
less elastic and less resistant to creasing than
PVC-coated polyester cloth .
Factors such as draft desig n , structural calcu
lations and functional requirements determine
the choice of material just as much as the anti
cipated module sizes. PVC-coated polyester

C 1 .61

cloth can be prefabricated in sizes up to

1 0 000 m2. By contrast, owing to the handling
during production, PTFE- or ETFE-coated
glass-fibre cloth is available only in sizes up to
2500 m2. Together with ETFE films, PTFE- or
ETFE-coated glass-fibre cloth and PVC-coated
polyester cloth account for approx. 90% of all
membrane constructions.
The d urab i l ity of ETFE films is about 25 years.
They are primarily used for pneumatic, trans
l ucent constructions and are readily printed.
Their high shear strength calls for very precise
cutting during fabrication to create irregular
and curved shapes. THV film (tetrafluoroethy
lene hexafluoropropylene vinylidine fluoride
copolymer) has a lower tear strength but is
more elastic and easier to work.
The elongation behaviour of PVC film varies
considerably with the temperature and this film
also has only a low strength. It is therefore used
for internal applications only.
Open-pore materials
Uncoated PTFE cloth is ideal for movable con
structions that do not have to be rainproof, e . g .
folding membranes for shading systems. Cot
ton cloth can be used temporari l y both internal
ly and externally. The swelling behaviour of cot
ton once it is wet provides the necessary rain
proof effect. I nterior acoustics can be influ
enced by using micro-perforated membranes
made from cloth or film.

The building envelope

Roof finishes
' for origin of data see "Life cycle assessments", p . 1 00

Roof coverings

flat plan tiles, titanium-zinc flashings

clay flat pan tiles, 20 mm

timber battens, 24 x 48 mm
polyethylene (PE-HO) sheathing, 0.5 mm
concrete tiles, titanium-zinc flashings

concrete tiles, 20 mm
timber battens, 24 x 48 mm
polyethylene (PE-HO) sheathing, 0.5 mm
titanium-zinc sheet

titanium-zinc with double-welt standing seams, 0.7 mm

timber boards, 24 mm
copper sheet'

copper sheet with double-welt standing seams, 0.7 mm

timber boards, 24 mm

fibre-cement sheets', titanium-zinc flashings

corrugated fibre-cement sheets, 8 mm

timber battens, 24 x 48 mm
polyethylene (PE-HO) sheathing, 0.5 mm
MOF board, 1 8 mm
natural slates', copper flashings

natural slates, Old German slatin g , 5 mm

flexible bitumen sheeting type V 1 3, 5 mm
timber boards, 24 mm
wooden shingles, copper flashings

wooden shingles, double-lap tiling, 24 mm

timber battens, 24 x 48 mm
polyethylene (PE-HO) sheathing, 0.3 mm
timber boards, 24 mm
asphalt shingles, titanium-zinc flashings

asphalt shingles, 3 mm
wood fibreboard, 24 mm

primary energy


1 80




1 55

1 43

[kg C02 eq] [kg R 1 1 eq]

[kg S02 eq]

[kg PO.eq]

[kg C2H. eq] [a]


0. 1 0


0.0 1 2

0.00001 2



0.01 2


0.0000 1 5

0. 1 6


0.0 1 3


0.0 1 2





1 30



1 97




1 38






1 15

flexible bitumen sheeting , with gravel

gravel, 50 mm
polyester fleece (PES), 2 mm
flexible bitumen sheeting (PYE PY200 S5), 5 mm
flexible bitumen sheeting (G200 S4), 4 mm
PVC, with gravel

gravel, 50 mm
flexible PVC sheeting, 2.4 mm
perforated glass fleece, 3 mm
polyethylene (PE-HO) vapour barrier, 0.4 mm
EPDM with gravel

gravel, 50 mm
flexible EPOM sheeting, 1 .2 mm
perforated glass fleece, 3 mm
polyethylene (PE-HO) vapour barrier, 0.4 mm
PVC with extensive planting


1 355











0.0 1 4









0.01 0










0.0 1 9


, =











1 1


0.0 1 4




0. 1 3






0.0 1 9



0.0000 1 9


, c====J

j c===J





Roof waterproofing systems

plant-bearing layer, 80 mm
polyethylene (PE-HO) filter fleece, 0.1
expanded clay filter layer, 30 mm
drainage mats, extruded polystyrene
root barrier, polyester fleece, 1 .5 mm
waterproofing, flexible PVC sheetin g ,
perforated glass fleece, 3 mm
polyethylene (PE-HO) vapour barrier,

primary energy




I c==:::J

(XPS), 30 mm

2.4 mm
0.4 mm

C 1 .62


Insulating and sealing

Since the dawn of industrialisation in the 1 8th

century, the concentration of carbon dioxide in
the atmosphere has increased by more than
30% and has probably never been higher in
the past 20 million years.
Beside emissions from intensive agriculture
(methane and d i nitrogen oxide) , it is mainly the
carbon d ioxide released into the atmosphere
by burning fossil fuels that contributes to the
greenhouse effect and hence to g lobal warming.
I n Germany more than one-third of the energy
consumed annually is used for heating build
ings. Thermal i nsulating and sealing materials
significantly reduce the heating requirements of
both old and new buildings. Modern standards
of thermal insulation save more energy than is
req u i red for the production and transport of the
i nsulating materials - at the latest after two
heating periods. Cavities of stationary air
behind timber planking and the double-leaf
masonry that began to appear at the start of
the 20th century are regarded as the first con
structional measures aimed at i mproving ther
mal insulation and moisture control. I nsulating
materials made from wood-wool, cork and min
eral fibres first became available during the
1 920s. However, until the 1 970s the primary
task of passive thermal insu lation was to avoid
damage to the building and g uarantee hygienic
living conditions.
Energy economy

C 2.1
C 2.2

C 2.3
C 2.4


Infrared image of buildings

Systematic classification of insulating materials
according to their raw materials
Comfort zone depending on U-value of wall with
an external temperature of - 1 0C
Thickness of insulation required to achieve a ther
mal resistance of 0.3 W/m2K

As a result of the oil crisis, the rapid increase in

the price of crude o i l and the associated reali
sation that our consumption of energy must
be red uced, Germany passed its first Thermal
I nsulation Act in 1 977, which was updated in
1 982 and 1 994. The prime aim of the act was to
specify maximum thermal transmittance values
(U-values) in order to reduce the transmission
heat losses through external building compo
nents, and hence lower the heating req u i re
ments. The Energy Economy Act in force since
2002 instructs users to consider the influence
of the airtightness of the building as wel l by
determining the ventilation heat losses.
The airtightness of building envelopes with
good thermal insulation has a decisive effect
on the heating energy requirements (see
p. 1 42 ) . I nsulation and airtightness concepts

C 2.1

must therefore be coordinated at an early stage

as part of a hol istic approach to the desig n .

Insulation principles

The insulating effect of a material improves as

the air pores in the material become smaller,
more numerous and more evenly distributed;
stationary air in the pores is always a poorer
conductor of heat than the surround ing solid
material. Accord i n g to D I N 4 1 08, building
materials with a thermal conductivity
A < 0 . 1 W/mK can be classed as thermal
insulating materials (fig . C 2.4).
Owing to the g rowing demand for insulating
materials and the increasing requirements to
be met by thermal insulation, the number of dif
ferent insulating products on the market is con
stantly ris i n g . Mineral-fibre insulating materials
and expanded foam materials are the most
popular, with a combined market share
exceeding 90%. In recent years insulating
materials made from renewable raw materials
have been red iscovered, and their application
options are g rowin g .
I nnovative i nsulating materials s u c h a s vacuum
insulation panels (VIP) or infrared absorber
modified polystyrene insulating materials (see
"The development of innovative materials",
p . 29) achieve considerably better insulation
values (fig . C. 2 . 7 ) .
T h e building materials industry c a n supply
numerous products for the thermal insulation of
external wal l s that are both loadbearing and
insulatin g , e . g . l i ghtweight vertically perforated
clay bricks. But the i nsulating function does
reduce the load bearing capacity of the materi
al. These products are dealt with in "Ceramic
materials" (see pp. 50-5 1 ) .

I nsulating materials are d istinguished accord

i n g to the raw materials on which they are
based (fi g . C 2.2):

inorganic, m ineral insulating materials

organic insulating materials

Both organic and inorganic insulating materials

Insulating and sealing

Insulating material
Inorganic, mineral
made from natural materials


made from synthetic materials

made from natural materials

expanded clay

frothed glass


natural pumice

ceramic insulating foam

granulated cereals

expanded perlite

foam made from kaolin or perlite


calcium silicate

made from synthetic materials

urea-formaldehyde resin in situ
foam (UF)


mineral wool (MW) made from glass

wool or rock wool

expanded melamine resin foam

expanded phenolic resin foam (PF)


polyester fibres

wood shavings

cellular glass (CG)

expanded polystyrene foam (EPS)

wood fibres (WF)

vacuum insulation panel (VIP))

extruded polystyrene foam (XPS)

wood-wool slabs (WW)

expanded polyurethane foam (PUR)

coconut fibres

polyurethane in situ foam (PUR)

cork products
sheep's wool


straw/straw lightweight loam


cellulose fibres

can be made from natural or synthetic raw

materials. We disti n guish between the following
types according to their structure:

fibre insulating materials

foamed insulating materials
granulateslloose fill

Functions and requirements

Thermal insulation

Once the building is complete, the insulating

materials are normally "invisi ble" . They fulfil a
number of tasks and functions:

the temperature of the interior air can be con

siderably lower but still achieve the same level
of comfort.
If the temperature of the interior air is lower,
then the transmission and ventilation heat loss
es are also lower. Reducing the temperature of
the i nterior air by 1 K achieves savings in heat
ing req u i rements amounting to approx. 6%.

Besides clothing and physical activities, there

are other variables that are significant for
human beings' perception of comfort i n
enclosed rooms. These are:

sound insulation (depending on material)

protecti n g the construction against conden
sation or frost

Thermal comfort

Fibre materials form a type of no-fines material

and hence prevent airflows. In foamed materi
als the fixed cell structure and the enclosed air,
or special gases, prevent convection.

C 2.2

guaranteeing a comfortable and hygienic

interior climate
reducing the transmission and ventilation heat
preventing overheating in summer

air movements
humid ity of the interior air
temperature of the interior air and fluctuations
mean internal surface temperature

The temperature-related comfort zone regard

ed as agreeable for the majority of people has
been d etermined through comprehensive stud
ies (fig . C 2.3). The temperature of the interior
air and the mean internal surface temperature
both contribute to chilling and hence the per
ception of comfort to roughly the same extent.
In buildings with good thermal insulation, the
higher i nternal surface temperatures mean that

- --


- 1 0C
C 2.3

j'" !
al al
.n .n

Thermal conductivity
The outward flow of heat takes place by way
of conduction, radiation and convection. As a
building performance parameter, thermal con-


20 -

The quality of the thermal insulation is based on

the thermal properties and dimensions of the
building materials and components used. Dur
ing periods of cold weather there i s a constant
flow of heat from inside to outside via the build
i n g envelope.
The term "insulation" describes the principal
function of thermal insulating materials - to
reduce the heat flow through the building com
ponent layers.


o O-n-



0 o






Insulating and sealing

C 2.5

C 2.6

Applications for thermal insulation to

D I N V 4 1 08-1 0, table 1
Differentiation of certain product properties to
DIN V 4 1 08-1 0, table 2

Part of building


Typical applications

Floor, roof


External insulation to floor or roof, protected from the weather, insulation beneath covering
External insulation to floor or roof, protected from the weather, insulation beneath waterproofing
External insulation to roof, exposed to the weather (upside-down roof)
Insulation between rafters, double-skin roof, uppermost floor not designed for foot traffic but accessible
Internal insulation to floor (soffit) or roof, insulation below rafterslloadbearing construction, suspended ceiling, etc.
Internal insulation to floor or ground slab (top) beneath screed, without sound insulation requirements
Internal insulation to floor or ground slab (top) beneath screed, with sound insulation requirements






External insulation to wall behind cladding

External insulation to wall behind waterproofing
External insulation to wall beneath render
I nsulation to double-leaf wall, cavity insulation
I nsulation to timber-frame and timber-panel construction
I nternal insulation to wall
I nsulation between party walls with sound insulation requirements
Insulation to partitions


External thermal insulation to walls in contact with the soil (outside the waterproofing)
External thermal insulation beneath ground slab in contact with the soil (outside the waterproofing)

ductivity 'A [W/mKj groups these three heat

transport mechan isms together. It should be
remembered that the lower the thermal con
ductivity, the better is the thermal insulating
effect of a material. The properties of metals
make them especially conductive, with values
up to 400 W/mK. Vacuum inSUlation panels
achieve values as low as 0.004-0.008 W/mK
by employing the thermos flask principle
(vacuum layer) .
The classification of thermal insulating mate
rials into thermal conductivity groups ( e . g .
WLG 035 or WLG 040) valid hitherto h a s been
superseded since the introduction of the Euro
pean product standards. According to
D I N 4 1 08-4 the designation uses the so-called
design thermal conductivity value, which can
be specified in 1 mW steps ( e . g .
'A 0.028 W/mK) .

a comfortable i nternal climate even in the case

of high external temperatures. Building materi
als that store heat help to even out the weather
and uti l isation-related temperature fluctuations
over the day. The specific heat capacity c
specifies the storage capacity of a building
material. Owing to their low weight, most i nsu
lating materials have only a low heat storage
capacity. Heavy insulating materials such as
wood fibre insulating boards (density > 1 00
kg / m3) can be used in areas where overheat
ing is likely ( e . g . converted roof spaces) in
order to improve the thermal insulation in sum
mer through their high storage capacity.
Moisture control

There is a strong correlation between thermal

i nsulation and moisture contro l . At 1 5C water
'A 0.598 W/mK has a thermal conductivity 25
times greater than that of air ('A 0.024 W/mK) .
Consequently, any water in a building material
significantly reduces its thermal insulation
capacity. Furthermore, moisture in building
components can lead to corrosion, mould
g rowth and frost damage. I n organic i nsulating
materials water contributes to decomposition
and destruction of the materials. In winter in
particular, there is a vapour pressure grad ient
between a heated interior and the cold outside
air. The diffusion of water vapour from inside to
outside can lead to condensation within exter
nal wal l and roof constructions (interstitial con
densation) . Insulating materials used in the
cavities of double-leaf walls must therefore be
hydrophobic (water-repellent) over their entire

Thermal transmittance value (U-value)

The U-value is the building performance
parameter indicating the thermal transmittance
of building components and i s specified in
W/m2K. The thermal insulating properties of
different constructions can therefore be com
pared directly. A low U-value signifies a low
heat flow through the building components and
hence lower heat losses (U unit of heat trans
fer) .
Wherever components with a good thermal
conductivity (e.g. concrete balcony slabs with
out a thermal break) penetrate the insulated
external wal l , the material properties lead to
thermal bridges. Besides i ncreased heat loss
es, there is also the risk of mould growth
caused by the condensation that can col lect at
such places.

Specific heat capacity

D I N 41 08-2 contains recommendations for ther
mal insulation in summer in order to g uarantee


Water vapour diffusion

The -value specifies the d iffusion resistance of
a material and has no units. Accordi n g to
D I N 4 1 08-4 i nsulating materials made from
mineral wool (
1 ) , for example, are very

C 2 .5

open to d iffusion, but cellular glass on the other

hand is practically vapourtight (
1 00 000).
When designing external components, the dif
fusion resistance of the individual component
layers should decrease from inside to outside.
The quantity of water diffusing into and out of
the i nsulating materials, and hence possible
risks to the materials, can be checked using
the Glaser method ( D I N 41 08-3 ) .

Sound insulation

In building work we d i stinguish between insu

lating materials for airborne and structure
borne (impact) sound when discussing their
acoustic insulation properties.
In order to improve the airborne sound insula
tion of lightwei g ht walls or voids, soft fibrous
insulating materials with a high flow resistance
are particularly suitable. Such materials reduce
the sound energy (air pressure fluctuations) as
it passes through the fibres by converting into
kinetic energy.
I nsulating materials for impact sound insulation
( e . g . beneath floating screeds) are always elas
tic and must exhibit minimal dynamic stiffness
in order to absorb the incident i mpact energy
and transfer only a part of this energy to the
underlyin g structure.
Fire protection

Insulating materials are also suitable for use in

preventive, passive fire protection concepts in
order to protect building components against
rapid temperature rises.
The majority of inorganic insulating materials
belong to building materials class A ( incom
bustible), but organic insulating materials only
class B (combustible) .
Health and environmental issues

Even though insulating materials are not gener

ally in direct contact with the interior air, the

I nsulating and sealing

Product property




Compressive strength


No compressive strength
Little compressive strength
Moderate compressive strength
High compressive strength
Very high compressive strength
Extremely high compressive strength

Insulation to voids, insulation between rafters

Residential and office areas beneath screeds
Roof not designed for foot traffic, with waterproofing
Roofs for foot traffic, terraces
Industrial floors, parking decks
Heavily loaded industrial floors, parking decks


No requirements regarding tensile strength

Low tensile strength
High tensile strength

Insulation to voids, insulation between rafters

External insulation to wall behind cladding
External insulation to wall under render, roof w. bonded waterproofing


No requirements regarding deformation

Dim. stability not affected by moisture and temp.
Deforms under load and thermal stress

Water absorption




Tensile strength
Acoustic properties




No requirements regarding water absorption

Absorbs liquid water
Absorbs liquid or diffusing wate

No requirements regarding acoustics

Impact sound insulation, low compressibility
Impact sound insulation, moderate compressibility
Impact sound insulation, enhanced compressibility

amounts of hazardous substances they contain

(e.g. formaldehyde, styrene, isocyanate, phenol;
see "Hazardous substances", p. 268) should
nevertheless be kept to a minimum. The discus
sion surrounding the toxicity to humans of addi
tives (flame retardants in organic insulating
materials, pesticides in some organic insulating
materials made from natural materials) is on
These days, foamed plastics production mostly
uses pentane (pure hydrocarbon) or carbon
dioxide. The use of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons)
and partially halogenated HCFCs has been
banned throughout Europe since 1 995 and
2002 respectively. As an alternative, some
manufacturers use chloride-free HFCs, whose
ban is currently a subject of debate.
Owing to the proven health risks of asbestos
fibres and dust in interiors, synthetic mineral
fibres are also suspected of having a carcino
genic potential. For this reason, in 1 995 the
insulating materials industry switched the pro
duction of mineral wool to non-inhalable fibre
thicknesses (carcinogenicity index 40) and
reduced the bio-persistence of rock wool . Like
with all other fibre insulating materials, it should
ensured at the planning stage that no fibres
can be released into the interior air.

All applications without acoustic requirements

Floating screeds, party walls
Floating screeds, party walls
Floating screeds, party walls

Internal insulation
External insulation to wall beneath render, roof with waterproofing
Roof with waterproofing

ty ( e . g . dh high compressive strength) .

Accord i n g to their method of supply and instal
lation, we d istinguish between boards, mats,
felt, packing woo l , loose fill and in situ foams.
From the building performance point of view,
thermal insulating materials should be attached
to the cold side of the construction whenever
possible. However, in order to reduce the
transmission heat losses from old buildings
with facades protected by preservation orders,
internal insulation is often the only solution. This
treatment lowers the temperature of the wal l
construction o n the cold s i d e a n d considerably
increases the risk of interstitial condensation.
As a rule, internal insulation calls for an
extremely carefully installed vapour barrier or
vapour check on the inside (see p. 1 45 ) . More
over, thermal bridges at the wall-floor junctions
are practically unavoidable. An vapour d iffu
sion analysis is essential when using internal
i nsulation.

When choosi n g a suitable insulating material,

the constructional framework conditions, the
technical rules and the respective requirements
should be taken into account:


The harmonised insulating materials standards

D I N EN 1 31 68 to 1 3 1 7 1 are pure product
standards and specify properties and designa
tions only. The applications for thermal i nsula
tion (fig. C 2.5) and the differentiation of certain
product properties (fig. C 2.6) are regulated at
national level (in Germany D I N V 4 1 08- 1 0 ) . The
type codes are in each case made up of the
application (e.g. WAA external wall i nsulation
behind waterproofing) plus the product proper-

Internal insulation for residential and office areas

External insulation to external walls and roofs
Perimeter insulation, upside-down roof

General requirements: d i mensions, density,

properties (texture, edges, colour, etc. )
Strength: compressive strength or compres
sive stress at 1 0% compaction, long-term
compressive stress, tensile strength, adhe
sive strength of foams
Dimensional stability when subjected to the
effects of heat and cold
Thermal i nsulation: thermal conductivity, ther
mal resistance, heat storage capacity
Moisture control: water vapour permeab i l ity,
hydrophobic properties, water absorption
Sound insulation: dynamic stiffness, flow
Fire protection: building materials class,

C 2.6

upper service temperature limit

Health and environmental issues
Durability: ageing resistance, resistance to
high humidity, thermal stabil ity, UV radiation
Economic factors


We distinguish between the following types of

fixing irrespective of the choice of insulating

loose: no permanent mechanical connection,

e . g . tipped, packed, blown in, laid loose
individual : permanent ind ividual or l i near fix
ings, e . g . nailed, screw, dowelled, glued
full bond : a connection over the entire area of
the insu lating material, e . g . g lued (adhesive,
bitumen) , bedded in mortar


The type of fixing has a crucial i mpact on the

later recyclability of an insulating material.
Materials i nstalled loose can usually be very
easily reused, but those installed with a full
bond are impossible to reuse.
The technical options for recycling the materi
als have developed at a faster rate than their
practical application. Normally, mineral insulat
ing materials are still sent to landfill sites,
organic insulating materials are incinerated .

Insulating materials

The technical parameters of insulating materi

als shown in fig. C 2 . 7 represent guidelines;
these should be compared with the actual
product data provided by the manufacturer in
each individual case. A selection of insulating
materials is given below.


Insulating and seali n g

Insulating material

Vapour diffusion
resistance index

[kg / m,,]

Design thermal

Inorganic, made from synthetic materials

calcium silicate
glass wool/rock wool
cellular glass (CG)

1 1 5 - 290
1 2 -250
1 00- 1 50

0.045 -0.070
0.035 -0.050

1 /2
virtually vapourtight

A1 -A2/to A1
A1 - 8 1 /to A1
A1 /A1

Inorganic, made from natural materials

expanded perlite (EP8)
expanded clay

60- 1 80

0.090 - 0. 1 60


A1 - 82 / to A 1
A1 /A1
A1 /A1

Organic, made from synthetic materials

polyester fibres
expanded polystyrene foam (EPS)
extruded polystyrene foam (XPS)
expanded polyurethane foam (PUR)

1 5 -45
1 5 - 30
" 30

0.025 -0.035

20/ 1 00
30/ 1 00

8 1 -2/to 8
8 1 /t0 8
81 /to 8
81 - 2 /to 8

Organic, made from natural materials

granulated cereals
hemp fibres
wood fibre insulating board (WF)
wood-wool slab (WW)
wood-wool multi-ply board (WW-C)
coconut fibres
insulation cork board ( IC8)
sheep's wool
cellulose fibres



20- 60
1 /2
1 /2
1 05 - 1 1 5
1 /2
1 /5
0.065- 0.090
heavily dependent on lay-up of plies
50- 1 40
1 /2
5/ 1 0
1 /2
20 - 80
0.035 -0.040
30 - 1 00
0.035 -0.040
1 /2

"Innovative" insulating materials (organic/inorganic)

IR absorber modified EPS
1 5-30
transparent thermal insulation
vacuum insulation panel (VIP)
1 50-300

0.02 - 0 . 1 3
0.004- 0.008

20/ 1 00
virtually vapourtight
virtually vapourtight

class 1


Product forms

D I N EN 1 3 1 62
D I N EN 1 3 1 67

board, fleece, packing wool
board, loose fill

DIN EN 1 3 1 69
DIN EN 1 4063

DIN EN 1 3 1 63
DIN EN 1 3 1 64
D I N EN 1 3 1 65

81 -82/to 8
81 -82/to 8
82/to D
82/to D
82/to D
81 /t0 8
8 1 -82/to 8
81 -82/to 8
81 -82/to 8
81 -82/to 8
81 -82/to 8


EN 1 3 1 71
EN 1 3 1 68
EN 1 3 1 68
1 8 1 65- 1 /-2
EN 1 3 1 70

DIN EN 1 3 1 63

81 /to 8
82/to D

board, loose fill

loose fill
loose fill

board, in situ foam

mat, felt, pack. wool, blow-in prod.

board, mat, felt, packing wool
blow-in product, loose fill
mat, felt, packing wool
loose fill, board
mat, felt, packing wool
blow-in product, board


The building materials classes are given as a guide only; they must be compared with the actual product data.
Insulating material with building authority approval.
3 The insulating material exploits the static insulating effect plus solar gains; the values given here include solar gains determined over one heating period in Germany.
These figures can vary considerably depending on climate and the orientation of the insulation.
4 Insulating materials for transparent thermal insulation systems fall into building materials classes A 1 to 83 depending on the raw material.

C 2.7
Mineral wool (MW) made from glass wool or rock

In Germany mineral-fibre insulating materials

account for about 60% of the market - the larg
est share. In terms of raw materials and bond
ing of the fibres, we d istinguish between glass
wool and rock wool.
Glass wool (fi g . C 2 . 8 a) normally consists of
recycled glass (approx. 50% by mass), quartz
sand, feldspar, sodium carbonate and lime
stone. In addition there is 3-9% binder made
from synthetic resins (usually phenol-formalde
hyde) and approx. 1 % waterproofing agent
based on a silicone or on mineral oil.
Rock wool (fig . C 2.8 b) is mainly produced
from natural stone (e. g . d iabase, basalt, dolo
mite), but can also contain clay brick and baux
ite constituents from production waste. The
proportions of binder and waterproofing agent
are somewhat lower than those of glass wool .
Just 1 m3 of stone produces about 1 00 m 3 of
rock wool . The production involves melting the
raw materials and additives at 1 300-1 500C,
which produces a pulp to which the b inder is
M ineral-fibre insulating materials have equally
good thermal and sound i nsulation properties.
They are open to diffusion and are regarded as
highly durable thanks to their rotting and


weathering resistance. However, insulating

boards must be protected against extreme
moisture because otherwise their insulating
effect and strength are substantially reduced.

lular glass is normally bonded to components

with bitumen, recycling is virtually impossible.
peripheral basement insulation and insulation
beneath load bearing ground slabs
thermal insulation to surfaces with heavy com
pressive loads ( e . g . industrial floors, parking
internal insulation
cavity i nsulation
flat and green roofs

. Thermal insulation, airborne and i mpact
sound insulation, and fire protection in virtual
ly all situations

Cellular glass (CG)

Also known as foam glass, this material (fig .

C 2 . 8 c ) is produced l i ke normal glass b y heat
ing the raw materials quartz sand, feldspar,
calcium carbonate and sod ium carbonate at
about 1 400C. The proportion of recycled g lass
may account for about one-third of the total
mass of raw materials. After cooling, the g lass
is m il led to form a powder and carbon is added
as a blowing agent (hence the dark grey col
our) before the powder is heated again. The
oxidation of the carbon causes the formation of
gas bubbles which foam up the fluid mixture.
Owin g to its closed-cel l structure impervious to
gas, cellular glass is practically vapourtight,
completely unaffected by water and d imension
ally stable. It is therefore mainly used for build
ing components in contact with the ground or
those subjected to compressive loads. As cel-

Calcium silicate insulating boards

Calcium silicate insulating boards have only

recently been launched on the market (also
with the designation mineral foam), and provide
an alternative to the conventional insulating
materials in thermal insulation composite sys
The raw materials are quartz sand, hydrated
lime, cement and a curing agent with hydro
phobic properties; about 1 0% cellulose is
added to boards for internal use. They are pro
duced (formation of pores, hardening and dry
ing) in autoclaves like aerated concrete. Calci
um silicate insulating boards are very open to
diffusion and thanks to their water absorption
ability contribute to regulating the humidity of

Insulating and sealing

the interior air, which makes them suitable for

use as internal insulation on external walls,
When used external ly, the water absorption is
reduced to s;; 5% by adding a waterproofing
If this insulating material is incorporated in a
mineral wall construction, the complete wall
can be disposed of as a whole, Owing to the
higher density of calcium s i licate insulating
boards, they seem clearly more massive than
conventional thermal insulation composite sys
external and internal insulation to walls
fire protection

Expanded perlite

Perlite (fig , C 2 , 8 d) is among the group of

aqueous, vitreous rocks with a volcanic ori g i n ,
In the expanding process crushed raw perlite
is briefly heated to about 1 000C to g ive it a
viscous consistency, The water in the rock
turns to steam and expands the particles to
max, 20 times their original volume, A silicone
waterproofing agent or encasing in bitumen or
a natural resin can be used depending on the
intended use of the material, Loose fi l l perl ite
treated with waterproofing agent is open to d if
fusion, hardly affected by moisture and cannot
rot. Expanded perlite is either combustible or
incombustible depending on the encasing
Expanded perlite boards (EPB) can be pro
duced by addi n g binders plus organic and
inorganic fibres,
lightweight aggregate for concrete and mortar
cavity insulation
thermal and impact sound insulation
levelling layer beneath screeds
loose insulation for roofs and timber joists

Expanded clay

After the clay is obtained from open-cast m ines

it is stored for about a year, The processing
involves milling the raw material and passing it
through a rotary kiln where it is dried using the
countercurrent method and subsequently heat
ed to approx, 1 200C, at which temperature the
bonded water turns to steam and expands the
Expanded clay does not rot and can withstand
high compressive loads, However, the thermal
insulation characteristics (approx, 0,09 W/mK)
are rather poor when compared to other insu
lating materials,
lightweight aggregate for concrete and mortar
levelling layer beneath screeds
thermal insulation in floors

Expanded polystyrene foam

Polystyrene (fig , C 2 , 8 e) has been used by the

building industry since the 1 950s and in Ger
many has the second-largest share of the mar
ket. In the production of EPS, polymerisation
creates EPS beads (0, 1 -2,0 mm) from the raw
material styrene (obtained from petroleum or
natural gas) by adding a highly volatile blowin g
agent (pentane) , After drying a n d intermediate
storage, the granulate is heated with steam i n
pre-foam i n g units a t temperatures of approx,
1 00C, which causes it to expand to 20-50
times its orig i nal volume before being formed
i nto boards on a continuous production line,
The proportion of pure recycled EPS can
amount to 40% dependi n g on the application,
Expanded polystyrene foam does not rot. but
becomes brittle in direct sunlight (no resistance
to ultraviolet radiation) and is not resistant to
solvents, Owing to its comparatively high
vapour d iffusion resistance, when used as
i nternal i nsulation it should be ensured at the
planning stage that any condensation can
evaporate again, However, EPS products open
to d iffusion are also available, Owing to its sen
sitivity to temperature (max, temperature in use:
75-85C) , this material cannot be bonded with
hot bitumen or used beneath mastic asphalt.
thermal insulation i n almost all situations
i mpact sound insulation

Extruded polystyrene foam (XPS)

The chemical composition of extruded polysty

rene foam (fig , C 2 , 8 f) is almost identical to that
of expanded polystyrene foam,
Polystyrene granulate is melted in an extruder,
foamed up by adding a blowing agent and
formed into a continuous web of foam material.
The blowing agent used is normally carbon
dioxide these days, i nstead of the CFCs or
HCFCs employed in the past. After production,
all the carbon d ioxide escapes from the materi
al and is replaced by air,
XPS absorbs very little water and has a high
compressive strength, It has a high diffusion
resistance, but is not resistant to u ltraviolet
radiation and cannot resist solvents, The maxi
mum temperature for applications is 75C,
peri pheral basement i nsulation and insulation
beneath load bearing ground slabs
thermal insulation to surfaces with heavy
compressive loads (e,g, industrial floors,
parking decks)
upside-down roofs
i nsulation to thermal bridges (concrete l i ntels,
i nsulated starter-bar units)

Polyurethane foam (PUR)

Polyurethane foam (fig , C 2 , 8 g) achieves the

best insulation values among conventional
insulating material s , Its main constituents are
d i phenylmethane di-isocyanate ( M D I ) , poly
ether and/or polyester polyalcohol ; the latter

C 2,7
C 2,8

C 2,8
Physical parameters of selected insul. materials
Insulating materials (selection)
a Glass wool
b Rock wool
c Cellular glass
d Expanded perlite
e Expanded polystyrene foam
f Extruded polystyrene foam
g Expanded polyurethane foam


I nsulating and sealing

can be produced from crude oil or renewable

raw materials (e. g . sugar beet, maize, pota
toes). Polyurethane foam is produced by mix
ing and the chemical reactions between the l iq
uid components when a blowin g agent such as
pentane or carbon d ioxide is added.
Depending on the method of production, it i s
possible t o produce insulating boards without
facings (slabstock foam boards), or with flexible
(laminated foam boards) or rigid facings (sand
wich panels) . Polyurethane boards laminated
with aluminium on one side are vapourtight and
achieve (dependi n g on product) 1--- values of
0.025 W/mK. I n situ polyurethane foam is also
available in add ition to the boards. The in situ
foam i s made from simi lar raw materials and is
used to fi l l voids on site.
Polyurethane i s not resistant to ultraviolet radia
tion, but does not rot and, unli ke polystyrene, is
resistant to both hot bitumen and solvents.

insu lation over the rafters
flat roofs
thermal insulation to surfaces with heavy
compressive loads (e. g . industrial floors,
parking decks)
thermal insulation beneath floating screeds
sandwich panels
filling of voids (in situ foam)

Wood fibre insulating boards (WF)

The raw materials for the manufacture of wood

fibre insulating boards (fig . C 2 . 9 b) are low
strength wood (e.g. spruce, fir and Scots p ine)
or scrap wood from sawmills.
The chips are crushed, mixed with water to
form a p u l p , dried to 2% residual moisture con
tent and cut into boards. The bond is generally
based on the interlocking of the fibres and the
adhesive q ualities of the l i g n i n already present
in the wood. Some manufacturers add small
amounts of aluminium sulphate, paraffin or glue
to assist the bonding process.
We essentially d istinguish between porous and
bitumen ised wood fibre insulating boards - the
bitumen improves the moisture resistance.
Wood fibre insulating boards absorb moisture,
are relatively open to d iffusion, are airtight and
have a high heat storage capacity. They can
be recycled , and the boards without bitumen
can also be composted.
insulation over and between rafters, also to
contain loose insulating materials
thermal insulation to wal l s and floors
impact sound insulation

Cork products

Cork insulating materials are made from the

bark of the cork oak, mainly indigenous to Por
tugal, Spain and Algeria. The first stripping is
when the tree is 25-30 years old, and subse
q uent bark removal can take place every 1 0
years without endangering the tree. Supplies of
cork are therefore not unlimited and the whole
process is relatively costly.
We d i stinguish between various cork products
depending on the method of manufacture. I n
the production of insulation cork board (ICB)
the bark is m i l led to form a granulate and
baked under pressure in hot steam (approx.
370C). The cork expands by 20-30% of its
original volume and the resin that is released
b i nds the granules into blocks (fig . C 2 . 9 c ) .
Pressed cork board is produced by compact
i n g the milled cork granulate into blocks under
high pressure and subsequently sawing the
blocks to form boards. I mpregnated cork con
tains additional binder (e.g. bitumen). Granulat
ed cork is obtained through the mechanical
milling of the bark without any further additions.
All cork products have relatively good thermal
insulation properties and also a high heat stor
age capacity.

Wood-wool slabs ('NW)

These consist of long wood shavings (mostly

spruce). The fibres are mixed with mineral
binders (magnesite or cement) , pressed
together at high temperatures and subsequent
ly dried. The chips can be pretreated with mag
nesium sulphate to protect against insect
attack. Cement-bonded boards (grey colour)
absorb more water than magnesite-bonded
boards (beige colour) .
Wood-wool slabs have a good heat storage
capacity, are open to d iffusion and can contrib
ute to sound attenuation.

permanent formwork
internal fitting-out, sound-attenuating lining
plaster background

Wood-wool multi-ply boards (WW-C)

C 2.9

C 2.9


Insulating materials (selection)

a Wood-wool multi-ply board
b Wood fibre insulating board
c Insulation cork board
d Cotton
e Cellulose fibres
f IR absorber-modified polystyrene
g Vacuum insulation panel

These boards (fi g . C 2 . 9 a) consist of a core of

expanded foam or mineral-fibre i nsulation and
a facing of m i neral-bonded wood-wool on one
side (2-ply board) or both sides (3-ply board) .
The properties are the result of the respective
build-up of wood-wool and i nsulation (e.g. min
eral fibre, EPS, PUR). I n contrast to normal
wood-wool slabs, wood-wool multi-ply boards
comply with modern insulation standards.
permanent formwork
insulation to the underside of roofs over base
ments or basement parking
insulation to thermal bridges (e.g. edges of
floor slabs)

thermal and impact sound insulation below
floating screeds or wood floor finishes
insulation to l i ghtweight partitions and timber
joist floors
granulated cork as a loose insulating material
(attenuation to voids, roofs)

Sheep's wool

This product comes mainly from Central Europe,

but supplies from overseas (e.g . New Zealand)

Insulating a n d sealing

are also on the market. The raw wool contains

about 40% grease (yolk) , foreign matter and
perspiration that is removed i n the washing
plant with soap and soda. Some manufacturers
enhance moth protection by adding 1 -2 % by
mass additions of boron salt in the order of
magnitude of 1 % by mass serve as a fire
retardant. After carding (disentangling and
straightening) the wool, it is processed to form
a thin fleece, several layers of which are nee
dled together to form insulating mats. Fine wool
- a waste product of the production process can be used for packing purposes or as back
ing cords for joints.
Sheep's wool is open to d iffusion and very
hygroscopic - the fibres can absorb moisture
(up to 33% by mass) and release it again with
out impairing their insulating effect.
thermal insulation to (close) couple roofs
insulation to l i ghtweight partitions and timber
joist floors
impact sound insulation
packing and attenuation in voids


Cotton insulation board (fig . C 2.9 d) is pro

duced from roughly equal parts of raw cotton
and offcuts and scraps from the textiles indus
try. Raw cotton consists of 90% cellulose, wax
and pectin.
The production involves cardi n g the raw mate
rial, cleaning it mechanically and adding boron
salts (pesticide, fire protection ) . Afterwards, it is
processed to form a thin fleece, several layers
of which are needled together to form insulat
ing mats. This building material exhibits very
good thermal and sound insulation properties.
The debate continues about whether cotton - a
renewable raw material - is also worthwhi l e as
an insulating material from the economic view
point. In a life cycle assessment the relatively
low energy requirements of the production are
offset by the long transport d istances, and the
environmental effects of fertilisers and pesti
cides are not taken into account. Some manu
facturers use hand-picked cotton , which usual
ly requires no pesticide, as their basic raw
material .

tection) , several layers of the fleece are bond

ed together with potato starch or by weaving in
reinforci n g polyester fibres. Flax insulating
materials are open to d iffusion and exhibit very
good thermal and sound insulation characteris
thermal insulation to floors and roofs
impact sound insulation

Cellulose fibres

Among the insulating materials made from

renewable raw materials, cellulose fibre prod
ucts currently enjoy the largest market share.
The raw material is scrap paper, e . g . daily
newspapers printed with lead-free printing i nk,
and other waste paper products.
Flakes (fi g . C 2.g e) and boards made from cel
lulose fibres d iffer with respect to methods of
production and applications.
In the production of cellulose flakes the scrap
paper is crushed in a m ulti-stage process and
mixed mechanically with boron salt (20% by
mass) to improve the fire protection properties.
In the production of cellulose fibreboards, rei n
forcing fibres (jute or polyolefins) and binders
(lignin sulphonate) are added after pulverising
the scrap paper and mixing in the boron salt.
Aluminium sulphate and tal l oil are used as
waterproofing agents.
Cellulose fibres exhibit very good thermal i nsu
lation properties, are hygroscopic and open to
d iffusion. The material is durable and has been
used in Scandinavia and the USA since the
1 920s. However, only the processing by
trained operatives in approved specialist plants
guarantees non-settli n g products free from
voids. For recyc l i n g , the flakes are easily col
lected by vacuuming .
thermal i nsulation to (close) couple roofs and
timber joist floors
i nsulation to l i ghtwei g ht partitions
attenuation in void s

Innovative insulating materials

The ever more stringent thermal insulation

standards and the i ncreasing thicknesses
called for are currently encourag ing rapid
developments and trials of highly efficient i nsu
lating materials.
Based on industrial research and development
programmes, the efficiency of existing materi
als can be constantly improved through the use
of novel combinations and new effects (see
"The development of innovative materials, p. 28).
For examp le, adding an infrared absorber to
the matrix of expanded polystyrene (fi g . C 2.9f)
renders possible a reduction in thickness of up
to 25% (see fig. C 2.4, p . 1 33) .
The (still) comparatively high cost of such inno
vative insulati n g materials must be weighed
against the considerable gain in usable floor
space and the new design options (more
slender components) . For refurbishment work,
high-performance insulating materials result in
modern U-values even with thin assemblies
( e . g . adjacent neighbouring structures, junc
tions around windows, short eaves overhang) .
Vacuum insulation panels (VIP)

Vacuum i nsulation panels (fi g . C 2 . 9 g ) have

been establ ished for use in refrigerators and
deep freezes since the 1 970s, but it is only
recently that the first trials and demonstrations
for b u i l d i n g applications have been carried out
I n comparison with conventional insulating
materials, the thermal conductivity is lower by a
factor of 5-1 0 . VIPs consist of a core material
with a good compressive strength that is lami
nated with gastight composite foils in a vacuum
chamber. Besides fibres and open-cell foams,
pyrogenic silicic acid is now the favourite filling
material because - owing to its extremely small
voids ( 1 00 nm) - thi s places the lowest
demands on the airtightness of the envelope.
The initial gas pressure is 1 -5 mbar and
increases by approx. 2 mbar every year. The
airtightness has a decisive influence on the
durability and thermal conductivity of VIPs:

thermal insulation to (close) couple roofs
insulation to lightweight partitions and timber
joist floors
packing and attenuation in voids

0.004 W/mK at < 5 mbar gas pressure

0.008 W/mK at < 1 00 mbar gas pressure
0.020 W/mK ventilated

The use of aluminium foi l or multi-layer, vacu

um-metall ised synthetic barrier foils results in a
guaranteed l ifetime of 30-50 years.


In Central Europe flax plants g row to a height of

approx. 1 .0-1 .2 m, have a relatively short vege
tation period and do not usually require any fer
tilisers or pesticides. The short fibres used for
flax insulating materials are a by-product of the
process to obtain long fibres for the textiles
industry (linen). The retted (soaked) and dried
short fibres are carded and processed to form
a thin fleece. After adding boron salts (fire pro-

thermal insulation beneath underfloor heating
internal i nsulation with faci n g of plasterboard
spandrel elements for post-and-rail facades
thermal insulation composite system in con
junction with 35 mm XPS boards as plaster
background (protective layer)


I nsulating and sealing



1W,RJU Il-- 1

- ---


11?11I11--- 3


:oIIIHr--- 4



::ifI11r--- 5




.>Il/llIlr-- 7


2 --,



Solid timber, spruce, 80 mm

Softboard, 22 mm
Vacuum insulation panel, 40 mm
Compressible tape all round
Battens, 40 x 45 mm
3-ply core plywood, 22 mm

C 2.10

Planning advice
I n order to achieve U-values ,,;; 0. 1 5 W/m2K, i . e .
passive-energy house standard, with conven
tional insulating materials, a total wal l thickness
> 500 mm is normal.
In a pi lot project by Lichtblau Architekten, a
U-value of 0. 1 4 W/m2K was achieved using a
loadbearing sol id timber wal l and interchange
able VIPs - with a total wall thickness of just
1 92 mm (fi g . C 2 . 1 0) . The thinner wal l results in
a gain in usable floor space amounting to
about 1 5 m2 (in relation to the total floor space
of 265 m2) . The following aspects should be
considered at the planning stage:

Defined sizes (usually 1 .0 x 0.5 m): the panels

cannot be cut, special sizes are time-consum
ing and costly.
Protection of the vacuum: the panels need a
fixing without restraint, and the insulating
layer must not be damaged ( e . g . nails) during
construction and uti l isation of the build i n g .
Thermal bridges: in comparison t o VIPs, air is
a good conductor of heat; therefore joints and
penetrations must be minimised .
So far there is no building authority approval.

Transparent thermal insulation

Transparent thermal insulation enables the

transmission heat losses through opaque exter
nal walls to be reduced but the same time per
mits high solar radiation transmission and,
moreover, acts as a daylight element i n a trans
lucent facade.
The insulating material often makes use of cel
lular structures (capillary, honeycomb) of glass
or plastic (PM MA, PC) . Alternatively, honey
comb structures made from recycled paper or
microporous aerogel bead fillings are feasible.
The insulating materials are protected against
the weather, dust, dirt and mechanical damage
by fitting them in the cavity of insulating glass
units or between profiled glass elements or in
multi-walled panels.
How it works
Generally, we d istinguish between three d iffer
ent transparent thermal insulation systems:

1 40


-- Solar radiation

- -- Heat radiation

Shading element
Transparent thermal insulation



C 2.1 1

D i rect gain system:

In terms of their appearance, translucent ther
mal insulation units integrated into post-and
rail facades resemble acid-etched or sand
blasted glazing (fi g . C 2 . 1 3) . The l i ght-scatter
i n g effect of the thermal insulation structure
distributes the daylight deep into the interior
evenly and without g lare. In the form of triple
g lazi n g with an 8 mm thick capillary panel,
U-values of 0.8 W/m2K are possible.
Solid wall system:
The combination of transparent thermal insu
lation elements and heat storage mass en
ables the incident solar radiation to be con
verted into heat at the (usual ly) b lack-painted
outside face of the wal l (absorber) and trans
ported to the i nside face of the wall after a
delay (fi g . C 2 . 1 1 ) . Through the reversal of the
heat flow during periods of incident solar radi
ation, this construction realises gains of 501 50 KWh /m2 per square metre of transparent
thermal insulation (depending on system,
orientation, shad i n g , etc . ) .
Thermally decoupled systems:
Convective and hybrid systems are decoupled
from the storage mass by controllable air or
water layers. However, such systems are sti l l
a t the development stage.

Panel in heating


Panel in insulating mode

C 2. 1 2

converted into heat and transported to the

interior via the solid masonry after a delay
(fig . C 2 . 1 2) . I n insulating mode the element
protects against heat losses and overheating in
summer. Switching between the two modes is
achieved by applying an electric current, which
i nfluences the pressure relationships of the
g lass-fibre core and hence alters the thermal
conductivity by a factor of 40.

C 2 . 1 0 Solid timber external wall construction with inter

changeable vacuum insulation panels
C 2. 1 1 Transparent thermal insulation element with
shading and temperature gradient
C 2 . 1 2 Switchable thermal insulation
a in heating mode (heating period and sunshine)
b in insulating mode (all other times)
C 2 . 1 3 "Rathausgalerien" shopping mall, Innsbruck,
Austria, 2002, Dominique Perrault
C 2 . 1 4 Life cycle assessment data for insulation and

To protect against overheating in summer,

transparent thermal insulation systems must be
fitted with effective sunshades. Besi des electri
cally driven foil roller blinds, cover plates
attached manually (seasonally) are also used.
Passive measures (e.g. eaves overhang , bal
cony) can also provide some shade, but
reduce the overall solar gains achievable.
Switchable thermal insulation

Switchable thermal insulation is based on the

knowledge gained from VIPs and transparent
thermal insulation and to date only one pilot
project has been completed. The facade ele
ments can be switched as required from a
highly insulating state with U-values of 0.20.3 W/m2K to a solar collector state with much
higher thermal conductivity and a U-value of
1 0 W Im2K. On sunny but cold winter days
(heating mode) the incident solar radiation is

C 2.13

I nsulating and sealing

, for origin of data see "Life cycle assessments", p. 1 00

primary energy

primary energy

[kg C02 eq]

[kg R1 1 eq]

[kg S02eq]

[kg PO. eq]

[kg C2H . eq]

51 1






expanded polystyrene (EPS)
EPS board, A = 0.040 W/mK, p = 25 kg/m3, 1 20 mm
polyvinyl acetate adhesive (PVAC)
extruded polystyrene (XPS)






XPS board, A = 0.040 W/mK, p = 20 kg/m3, 1 20 mm

polyvinyl acetate adhesive (PVAC)
polyurethane PUR

0.0 1 3

0.01 1



0.001 0






0. 1 3





0.0 1 4




0. 1 8



1 .1




PUR board, A = 0.035 W/mK, p = 2 0 kg/m3, 1 00 mm

polyvinyl acetate adhesive (PVAC)
insulation cork board ICB'

0.01 6



ICB, A = 0.040 W/mK , 1 20 mm

mortar-based adhesive
wood-wool multi-ply board WW-C, permanent formwork'


V1/W-C board, A = 0.040 W/mK, p = 30 kg/m3, 1 25 mm

magnesite-bonded, mineral fibres on inside

wood fibre insulating board WF'


WF board, A 0.040 W/mK, p

mortar-based adhesive

1 60 k9/m3, 1 20 mm

cellular glass CG, perimeter insulation'

cellular glass, A 0.040 W/mK, p
bitumen compound


1 030

1 00 k9/m3, 1 20 mm



calcium silicate board


calcium silicate, A = 0.045 W/mK, p = 1 1 5 kg/m3, 1 40 mm

mortar-based adhesive





0.0 1 5











0.01 2

mineral wool fleece


mineral wool lleece, )" = 0.040 W/mK, p = 20 kg/m3, 1 20 mm

polyamide fixings

1 .4


Loose fill

perlite fill

1 87

expanded perlite, )" = 0.065 W/mK, p = 1 00 kg/m3, 1 60 m m

(on ground slab)

cellulose fill


cellulose, )" = 0.040 W/mK, p = 50 kg/m3, 1 20 mm

(between TJI timber beams)

, for origin of data see "Life cycle assessments", p . 1 00

primary energy

primary energy

reaction resin waterproofing



epoxy mortar, 2 mm
epoxy undercoat

plastic-modified thick bitumen coatin 9







0.0 1 2



[kg C02 eq]

[kg R 1 1 eqj

[kg S02 eqj

[kg PO. eqj

[kg C2H, eqj








0.0 1 5






0.01 5

1 .7

1 .8

Spread compounds

1 .1



embossed synthetic sheeting for protection (HDPE)

bitumen emulsion, 3 mm
mineral waterproofing


cement-based waterproofing, 2 mm
water glass undercoat



Flexible sheeting
PVC sheeting, 1 layer

31 2

PVC sheeting, 2 mm
polyethylene fleece, 0.5 mm
bitumen sheeting, 1 layer
bitumen sheeting (G200 S4), 4 mm
bitumen undercoat











C 2. 1 4

1 41

I nsulating and sealing


The sealing of joints or junctions between build

ing components or their surfaces protects the
building against the ingress of water, the un
controlled loss of warm interior air through the
building envelope and the ingress of cold air
from the outside. Damaged or incomplete seal
ing of joints and surfaces can lead to serious
damage and increase the heating energy
requirements significantly. Every b u i l ding
includes a multitude of joints which compen
sate for tolerances and enable the various
components to move without restraint as they
expand and contract in harmony with tempera
ture fluctuations. In addition, joints can also be
used as a means of adding texture or features
to a surface, or to reflect geometrical or con
structional configurations.

Air can absorb water vapour up to the satura

tion vapour pressure, i . e . until reaching the
dew point, at which point the water condenses.
Hot air can absorb more water vapour than
cold air. As hot air cools, so its relative humidi
ty rises. If the dew point i s reached, the water
condenses within the building component
(interstitial condensation). This promotes the
growth of fungi (mould) , causes rotting of tim
ber components and reduces the insulating
effect of thermal insulation. Cold air that enters
from outside via leaking joints can carry fibres,
fungi and spores from the building compo
nents into the interior air. These may l ead to
health disorders among the occupants, gener
ally summarised under the head i n g of "sick
building syndrome".
Interestingly, moisture damage to b u i l di n g
components caused by condensation is mainly
the result of airtig htness problems and convec
tion, and less often water vapour d iffusion.
Only approx. 1 % of the water vapour passes
through the external wall as a result of the
water vapour gradient between inside and out
side. In this context it is worth noting that only
proper ventilation - if necessary with controlled
mechanical systems - guarantees the changes
of air necessary to meet hygiene and energy
economy requirements.

1 42

Blower door measurements

Leaks in the b u i l d ing envelope can be estab
lished and localised with the help of blower
door measurements. In new buildings these
measurements should be carried out before
installing partitions and soffits, but after all win
dows, doors, sealing layers and plastering
works have been completed.
One external door is temporarily removed and
replaced by a special sealed fan unit which
creates a (negative) pressure difference of
50 Pa between i nside and outside. Any leaks in
the building envelope will cause air to be
drawn into the building, which is then extracted
with the fan. The measured airflow corresponds
to the leakage flow (in m3/h) caused by leaks
in the building envelope. Dividing this value by
the vol ume of the building produces the air
change rate . According to the Energy Econo
my Act 2002, the air change rate shou ld not
exceed 1 . 5/h for buildings with mechanical
ventilation, and in passive-energy houses it
may not exceed 0.6/h .
If these values are exceeded, the leaks can be
localised with special instruments. We distin
guish between leaks in the external building
components and leaks in joints around win
dows and external doors. Leaks also impair the
airborne sound insu lation.
Even at the draft design stage it is important to
ensure that the airtight layer is carefully
planned, the aim being to provide surfaces and
joints that are permanently airtight. I n doing so,
it is primarily penetrations of the airtight layer,
e . g . pipes and cables or loadbearing structure,
that should be considered as potential weak

2. 1 7

Sealing of joints

Deformations of building components are

caused by, for example, settlement, tempera
ture-related changes in length or shrinkage.
Poor workmanship may lead to crackin g . I n
order t o keep such processes under control
and to avoid damage, the effective lengths of
components are limited by planned joints. I n
terms of construction we distinguish between
the following types of joint:
Construction joints
Construction joints are rigid joints. They are the
result of the building process, e . g . between
concrete components that cannot be poured in
one operation. Construction joints always occur
between foundation and walls, but the load of
the walls and the continuous reinforcement is
usually sufficient to seal such construction
joints. However, shrinkage cracks often form at
these points. A planned dummy joint simplifies
the subsequent sealing of this crack because it
provides space for a seal ing compound.
Expansion joints
Expansion joints permit the horizontal move
ment of large building components. In order to
avoid uncontrolled cracking in the structure,
vertical expansion joints extend over the full
height of the building, down as far as the top of
the foundation, e . g . in reinforced concrete walls
or a faci n g leaf of clay bricks.
Expansion joints that are sealed with jointing
materials to prevent ingress of rain and splash
ing water are not waterproof in building tech
nology terms. According to D I N 1 8 1 95 a water
proof joint is achieved only with flexible water
proof sheeting or a thick bitumen coatin g .


Planar waterproofing systems prevent the

ingress of water i nto the b uild ing. Numerous
materials are available for this, and these may
also be combined. Besides their waterproofing
characteristics, such materials should also be
able to bridge over any cracks so that the sur
face remains watertight even in the case of
movement. Joint sealants complement the
waterproofin g systems.

Settlement joints
Different parts of the building with d ifferent total
loads exert unequal vertical loads on the sub
soil . In order to permit d ifferential settlement
without restraint, settlement joints must also
continue through the foundations.
Separating joints
Components with different physical properties,
e . g . at junctions around windows, must be iso-

I nsulating and sealing

C 2. 1 8

lated b y separating joints that can accommo

date temperature-related changes in length
and dimensional tolerances. Such joints can
also act as expansion or settlement joints at the
same time.
Maintenance joints
These are joints exposed to severe chemical or
physical influences. They must be readi l y
accessible s o that they c a n be inspected regu
larly and renewed as required.
Joints without special requirements may be left
open (drained joints). Other joints must be
sealed . Various sealing materials can be used
depending on type of joint and requirements.
These materials can create any standard from
draughtproof to watertight and are d ivided into
the following groups:
joint sealants (injectable, kneadable)
sealing strips, seal i n g gaskets
Joint sealants, sealing strips and sealing gas
kets for press i n g , inserting and glueing i nto
place are not suitable as the sole means of
sealing i n the case of hydrostatic pressure.

C 2.19

Joint sealants that dry physically, e . g . butyl

compounds, sol idify as the solvent or water
evaporates. In the case of non-reactive joint
sealants, the material does not alter after being
installed. We d istinguish between plastic and
elastic joint sealants depending on their defor
mation characteristics. The permissible total
deformation is max. 25%.
Joint design
Accord i n g to D I N 1 8 540 a joint consists of two
sides, if possi ble with chamfered edges and a
stable substrate. A round backing strip limits
the depth of the joint and prevents the joint
sealants adhering to three surfaces
(fig . C 2 . 1 8) . In order to g uarantee the deforma
bility of the joint, the backing material consists
of a rot-resistant, closed-cell foam material.
Only joints with a width-depth ratio of approx.
2 : 1 ( e . g . 20: 1 0 mm) wi l l remain sealed perma
The joint sealant should be pressed onto the
sides of the joint to ensure adhesion. Sealants
are injected from cartridges or pressed i nto
place as a kneadable plastic compound.
Expansion and construction joints in contact
with the soil must satisfy more strin gent require
ments, which are given in 01 N 1 8 1 95-8.

Injected joint sealants must be stable, must

adhere well to the two sides of the joint (if nec
essary in conjunction with a primer to enhance
the adhesion), must withstand changing climat
ic and mechanical loads (resi l i ence and expan
sion behaviour), must exhi bit a non-sticky sur
face and must be compati ble with the adjoining
building materials. They should also be suitable
for uneven joint surfaces.
According to D I N 1 8 540 joint sealants should
not be painted afterwards because the antici
pated deformation of the sealant is usually
greater than the elasticity of the paint. The out
come is that the paint cracks and flakes off.
Nevertheless, in practice sealants are often
painted for aesthetic reasons.

Silicone sealants
S i l i cone sealants undergo a chemically reactive
curing process which exploits the moisture i n
the a i r a n d produces an elastic seal . The prod
ucts given off are acetic acid, amines or alco
hols, depend i n g on the particular system. Sili
cone sealants exhibit acid ic, neutral or alkal ine
reactions and must be compati ble with the sub
strate. Some products give off odours as they
Silicone sealants adhere very well to smooth,
mineral substrates such as glass and ceram
ics, also aluminium and coatings, both i nternal
ly and externally. Sanitary applications, junc
tions, terraces and balconies are the main
uses. They are available in many different col

Chemically reactive joint sealants, e . g . silicone

sealants, cure due to the effects of the moisture
in the air and expel molecules.

Polyurethane sealants
Polyurethane sealants also undergo a chemi
cally reactive curing process and g ive off car-

Joint sealants

C 2 . 1 5 Separating joints between precast concrete ele

ments, office building, Munich, Germany, 2003,
Amann & Gittel
C 2 . 1 6 Expansion joint, separating joint
C 2 . 1 7 Material and room transitions marked by joints,
Museum of Modern Art, Kanazawa, Japan, 2005,
Sejima Nishizawa
C 2 . 1 8 Joints with sealants
a expansion joint
b separating joint at window-wall junction
C 2 . 1 9 Thermoplastic waterstops
a external
b internal

bon dioxide in a viscous state. They are used

for sealing basement parkin g , parking decks
and waste water systems, i .e. applications that
require excellent adhesive qual ities and chemi
cal resistance. Polyurethane sealants can also
be used as an elastic adhesive.
MS polymer sealants
This reactive sealant type adheres to many dif
ferent substrates and unites the properties of
s i licone and polyurethane sealants. It is resist
ant to u ltraviolet radiation, is free from solvents,
has no smell and can mostly be used without
any pretreatment, even in the case of damp
sides to the joint. Many types of paint adhere to
this type of sealant, even those containing sol
Acrylate sealants
Sealants based on acrylate d ispersions exhi bit
a plastic d eformation behaviour. The evapora
tion of the dispersion water causes an acrylate
sealant to shrink by up to 20%. They adhere to
mineral and metal substrates , also plastics.
Acrylate sealants are available in many d iffer
ent colours and are used for rigid joints
(dummy joints, construction joints) . They can
be covered with certain, suitable types of paint.
Polysulphide sealants
Two-part polysulphide sealants u ndergo a
chemically reactive curing process and exhibit
an elastic deformation behaviour. During the
hardening process they give off highly odorous
sulphur compounds. Polysulphide sealants are
used for joints in external walls or as secondary
seals in the manufacture of insulating g lass
un its. They adhere to a number of building
materials such as plaster/render, timber, syn
thetic materials and metals.
Butyl sealants
These sealants are based on butyl rubber and
adhere to the majority of substrates. They
remain permanently sticky and are used in the
form of tapes or strips, e . g . in metalworkin g .
Butyl sealants containing solvents c a n be
injected into joints and moisten the substrate
wel l .

1 43

I nsulating and sealing

Materials for sealing joints

Sealants (injectable, kneadable)

Silicone (SI)

. acidic, neutral, alkaline

(products given off)

Polyurethane (PUR)

. 1 -part, 2-part

MS polymer

. 1 -part

Acrylate (AY)

1 -part, 2-part

Butyl rubber

with and without solvents

Synthetic rubber

contains solvents, dispersant


Linseed oil


desiccant (putty)


Waterstops made from PVC and synthetic rub

ber are used wherever the maximum permissi
ble total deformation of injected sealants is
exceeded or perfect adherence to the sub
strate cannot be guaranteed. Thermoplastic
and elastomeric waterstops are concreted per
manently in place in expansion and construc
tion joints for in situ concrete. They p rovide a
waterproof barrier across the joint. We distin
guish between internal and external waterstops
(fig . C 2 . 1 9) . Alternatively, expanding gaskets
can be used in construction joints. In water
proof concrete sheet metal waterstops can be
used in construction joints if little movement is
Sealing strips

Sealing strips include backing strips made

from PVC for construction joints and gaskets
made from synthetic rubber to exclude rain and
wind. Elastic seali n g strips made from elastom
ers or soft polyurethane foams can achieve a
degree of seal ing rangi n g from draughtproof to
watertight depending on the surface character-

elastomer waterstop
with/without profile
plastic, self-adhesive
elastic, non-self-adhesive

Polyvinyl chloride

thermoplastic waterstop

Polyethylene (PE)

foam backing
material (gasket)

Bentonite, EPDM

compressible strip


sheet metal waterstop


compressible tube

foam strip soaked in acrylic

resin, precompressed
aluminium foil strip
single-/double-sided adhesive
with profile


Silicone (SI)

Ethylene-propylene- . gaskets
diene rubber(EPDM)

C 2 .20

protect against moisture from the soil, non

hydrostatic pressure and rising damp. These
sealants comprise a binder of polymer-modi
fied cement which is mixed on site to form a
slurry. The slurry is min. 2 mm thick and can
bridge over small cracks.


Thick bitumen coatings

One- and two-part plastic-modified thick bitu
men coatings consist of a bitumen-plastic
emulsion plus a cementitious powder. It is
sprayed or spread on in at least two coats.
Non-rotting fleece inlays bridge over any
cracks. Thick bitumen coatings protect against
moisture from the soi l , a build-up of seepage
water and non-hydrostatic pressure, e . g . on
roof surfaces and in wet interior areas.

Horizontal and vertical waterproofing systems

protect the building against moisture. Horizon
tal damp-proof courses (dpc) between founda
tion and wal l consisting of one or more layers of
flexible bitumen sheeting prevent water rising
through capillary action to saturate the wall (ris
ing damp ) . Vertical layers of waterproofing on
external walls in contact with the soil must be
i nstalled according to the loadi n g cases g iven
in D I N 1 8 1 95 using the specified materials.
Waterproofing of building components

In D I N 1 8 1 95 parts 4-7 the waterproofing of

building components against ingress of water
is d ivided into the following applications:

Bituminous coatings
Coatings containing bitumen are applied as hot
coatings and adhesive compounds. Hot coat
i n g s consist of straight-run or blown bitumen,
often provided with fibrous or stone dust fillers,
which ensure weathering and impact resist
ance. They are used for non-hydrostatic pres
sure applications. Adhesive compounds are
used to bond flexible sheetin g to the substrate.
Flexible cement-based sealants
Flexible cement-based sealants can be used to

1 44

Polyurethane (PUR)

istics of the sides of the joint and the compres

sion of the sealing strip . Sealing gaskets are fit
ted between movable components like doors
and windows, and these also contribute to
sound i nsulation.

waterproofing against moisture from the soi l ,

e . g . ground slabs o r basement walls
waterproofin g against non-hydrostatic pres
sure, e . g . precipitation, seepage water or
splashing water on roofs, floors and wal l s in
wet interior areas
waterproofing against external hydrostatic
pressure, e.g. parts of the building below the
groundwater table
waterproofing against internal hydrostatic
pressure, e . g . swimming pools or drinking
water reservoirs

C 2.21

Sealing strips, sealing gaskets

Flexible sheeting
The application of flexible sheeting made from
bitumen, polymer-modified bitumen, synthetic
materials and rubber is very similar to the lay
i n g of these materials on roofs. The materials
fulfil similar tasks and are described in "The
building envelope" (see p p . 1 25-27) . They
ensure watertightness in the case of hydrostat
ic pressure. Embossed sheet metal is used to
strengthen the waterproofing in the case of
more severe loads.
Waterproofing materials on components in con
tact with the soil must be protected against
mechanical damage, e . g . by external thermal
insulation, drainage mats or embossed sheets.
Liquid-applied waterproofing systems
These systems are suitable for waterproofing,
for example, roofs and basements, primarily in
the case of components with complicated
geometries. Liquid-applied waterproofing sys
tems based on flexible unsaturated polyester
resins, flexible PMMA and flexible polyurethane
resins undergo a reactive curing process after
mixing their components or through contact
with moisture in the air. They are applied by
spreading, rolling or sprayin g . An inlay of
fleece made from synthetic fi bres serves as
reinforcement and bridges over any cracks.
Together, they form a composite with the sub
strate. The thickness of the waterproofing, usu
ally applied in two coats, must be at least

I nsulating and sealing

Materials for waterproofing

Materials for watertightness



adhesive compound, coating
mastic asphalt
bitumen and polymer-modified bitumen
flexible sheeting
plastic-modified thick bitumen coating
flexible synthetic sheeting
(also cold-applied self-adhesive)
flexible rubber sheeting
(also with self-adhesive coating)
liquid-applied waterproofing systems


embossed sheet metal


cement-based sealants (rigid/flexible)

1 .5 mm, or 2 mm on trafficked roof surfaces.

The European Technical Approval to ETAG 005
classifies the serviceability of l i q u i d-applied
roof waterproofing systems according to per
formance. It assumes a durability of up to 25
years depending on the particular application.
Liquid-applied waterproofing materials in con
junction with tiles and flags
Polymer-modified cement, waterproofing mate
rials based on polymer dispersions and flexible
reaction resins on an epoxy or polyurethane
base form the waterproofing layer for a com
posite system using tiles and flags. This com
posite is suitable for floors and walls in kitch
ens, sanitary areas, balconies and foodstuffs
processing operations depend i n g on the class
of use ( I - IV) . The full bond between water
proofing layer and substrate - partly with cloth
inlays to bridge over cracks - plus the overly
ing thin bed of adhesive for the tiles or flags
provides three-fold protection against leaks.
Airtightness, draughtproofing

We distinguish between internal and external

layers when discussi n g airtightness and
draughtproofing. Some insulating materials
must be protected against airflows in order to
guarantee the full insulating effect. In some cir
cumstances the sheathing in a roof construc
tion can, for example, protect the insulation
against the wind when positioned on the out
side of the insulation and provided with over
lapping, bonded joints. However, such layers
are not airtight and the joints, fixings and junc
tions required to achieve airtightness mean that
it is generally easier to attach an airtight layer
to the warm, inner side of the construction.
Open to diffusion, resistant to diffusion
Depending on the type of construction, vapour
permeability or impermeability is required.
According to DIN 41 08-3 component layers
with a water vapour diffusion equivalent air
layer thickness Sd $; 0.5 m are regarded as
open to diffusion, layers with Sd 1 500 m are
classed as resistant to diffusion and all values
in between as diffusion-retardant. The terms
airtight barrier, vapour barrier and vapour
check corresponded to these figures.

Materials for draughtproofing

Materials for airtightness


. polyethylene (PE)
based on polyamide, moisture
polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
aluminium (AI)


PE cloth-reinforced sheathing,
open to diffusion


bitumen felt


coated, impregnated


. gypsum boards with filled joints

aluminium-laminated insulation with
tongue and groove joints over

wood fibre insulating board (WF)

foamed insulating boards


Diffusion-retardant layers are used i n the

majority of cases (timber construction, roofs) .
Basically, the construction should become
more open to d iffusion from inside to outside
so that outer layers do not hamper the trans
port of moisture. Vapour checks must be
installed airtight. The reverse is also true: air
tight barriers can be used simultaneously as a
vapour check, depend i n g on the material.
I n the case of sol id external walls a plaster fin
ish over the entire internal wall surface
achieves adequate airtightness in most
instances. In lightweight constructions airtight
ness is guaranteed by sheetin g or boards. The
weaknesses in all types of construction can be
found at the joints - between d i fferent parts of
the airtight layer itself and also at junctions with
other components; these are often the sources
of leaks. This can be avoided by ensuring min.
1 00 mm laps in the case of sheeting plus addi
tional sealing with cloth-reinforced adhesive
tape (not carpet or parcel tape! ) .
Cardboard a n d paper can b e used to provide
an airtight or draughtproof layer by glueing
them, like wallpaper, to inner linings. Next to
the rafters they can be stapled or nailed in
place, provided a double welt type of joint is
formed. Seal i n g strips, joint sealants and com
pressible strips can be used to create airtight
joints with other components. In add ition to
sheetin g and cardboard, thermal i nSUlation
systems are available with a high water vapour
diffusion resistance. Used properly, neither
vapour barrier nor sheathing is req uired. But
their tongue and groove connections must be
glued airtight.

C 2.22
C 2.20 Systematic classification of materials for sealing
C 2.21 Installing diffusion-retardant sheeting
C 2.22 Systematic classification of materials for water
C 2.23 Physical parameters of sealants
C 2.24 Physical parameters of waterproofing materials


Linseed oil
putty, mod.

Type of

total de



,,; 2
,,; 5
5 - 20
1 0 -25
1 0 -25
1 5 -25

1 0-25

C 2.23


Water vapour

virt. vapourtight
not constant

Flexible sheeting
polymer-mod. bit 2 2 1 500
30 000
250 000
90 000
25 000
thick bitumen, 1 -part 2000
thick bitumen, 2-part 4000
mastic asphalt
virt. vapourtight
reaction resins
cement render
waterproof concrete,
1 00





" 0.05

> 1 500
1 00

1 .2
1 .2
1 .2
1 .5
1 .5
1 .2

1 20
1 35

,, 1 5
1 .5

> 1 500



, The water vapour diffusion resistance depends on the

humidity of the air; the values given here are valid for
50% and 80% relative humidity.
2 Flexible sheeting type PYE-PV 200 S4 has been
selected here as an example.
C 2.24

1 45

Building services

C 3.1

The development of what has recently become

all-embracing building services began in the
second half of the 1 9th century. Although water
mains and drains for towns and cities had been
known since ancient times, these were built for
public faci l ities (e. g . fountains in Rome) and
were intended for private buildings only in
exceptional circumstances.
The first public drains in Germany to connect
private households to the waste-water system
were b u i lt in 1 856 in Hamburg. Systems for
supplying drinking water came later.
The first complete systems for drinking water
and waste water in multi-storey buildings
appeared at the beginning of the 20th century.
Demands on building services grew, and so
over the course of time the provision of electric
ity, gas and other media became necessary,
also heatin g , ventilation and air condition i n g .
Complex b u i l d i n g services installations with
computer control have been available since the
early 1 980s.

To do this, primary horizontal and vertical runs

are grouped in d ucts and shafts respectively.
Energy-savin g operation demands short runs,
particu larly in the case of heating and hot-water
pipes. The advantage of services installed in
shafts or behind false walls - instead of being
built in or cast in - is that they can be replaced
and repaired without damaging walls, floors
and other elements.
D uring refurbishment or demolition work, serv
ices in shafts or behind false wal l s can be d is
mantled, removed , sorted and recycled.
The followin g criteria are important when
selecting materials or types of installation:


C 3.1
C 3.2
C 3.3
C 3.4

1 46

Inmos microprocessor factory, Newport, UK,

1 987, Richard Rogers
Applications for materials for drinking water sys
Applications for materials for building drainage
and waste-water systems
Applications for materials for heating systems

In a detached house with masonry walls, 1 20 m2

of usable floor space and a standard level of
comfort, the building services for water, waste
water, heating and electricity add up to approx.
2.5% of the total mass of the build i n g . Even
in laboratories and hospitals, with a high level
of building services, this figure does not
exceed 6%.
Consequently, the potential for saving materials
is only low in the case of building services.
However, their influence on capital outlay and
running costs is high. Furthermore, the integra
tion of building services leads to d ifficulties in
terms of disposal and recycling. Well organised
and accurate planning of building services sys
tems is therefore vital - the most economical
instal lation is the one that is made superfluous
by sound planning and desig n .
A s building services are subject t o a shorter
replacement cycle than load bearing compo
nents, they should be designed in a way com
mensurate with chan g i n g demands and easy

chemical and physical influences of the medi

um being conveyed
chemical and physical i nfluences of the ambient conditions
susceptibil ity to furring
maintenance options
potential environmental or health impacts of
the material during manufacture, usage and
adaptability to new user demands
sound i nsulation, fire protection
type of installation
time required for installation
l ife cycle assessment of materials
aesthetic req u i rements

Only water, waste water, heating, ventilation, air

conditioning and electrical installations are
considered in the followin g . The other special
areas of building services, e . g . escalators and
lifts, waste disposal systems, special require
ments for special buildings (e. g . hospitals) , are
not considered in this book.

Building services

Drinking water systems

Drinking water is vital to l ife. All components

that come into contact with drinking water must
therefore comply with EU legislation, which
requires that the drinking water must remain
completely unaffected . This applies from the
waterworks to the public and private water
mains to the drinking water draw-off points.
All materials and fittings (connectors, valves,
etc.) for the systems must be approved for a
continuous pressure of approx. 5 bar from the
public water main and for peak pressures of
max. 1 0 bar (Pn 1 0) . There are two principal
factors that influence the suitability and durabil
ity of a material for drinking water systems:
hardness and pH value. The hardness of the
water describes the content of magnesium car
bonate and calcium carbonate (lime) in the
water. The higher this content (i.e. the harder
the water) , the more susceptible the system is
to furring (incrustation), which can lead to pres
sure losses, even blockages in the p i pes. With
a neutral pH value of 7, there are no restrictions
on material. But any marked deviations from
this neutral value lead to an increased reac
tivity of the water, which can have a damag i n g ,
usually corrosive, effect o n the material o f the
pipe. The pH values permitted for drinking
water according to European legislation lie
between 6.5 and 9.5. Further factors are given
in fig. 3.2.

extremely resistant to corrosion regardless of

the composition of the drinking water. Stainless
steel has no effect on the taste and does not
affect the drinking water in any way. These
pipes are very long-lasting and can also be
recycled. When laying in the soil, stainless steel
p ipes should be protected against external cor
Copper pipes
Accord ing to the provisions of Germany's cur
rent Drinking Water Act (TwVO 2001 ) , copper
p ipes are only approved for drinking water sys
tems with a pH value > 7.4. I n the case of val
ues > 7.0, the concentration of organic carbon
in the drinking water (TOC value) may not
exceed 1 .5 m g l l . If h igher concentrations of
hydrogen ions occur in the water, copper can
dissolve into the water and cause high concen
trations in humans.
As the water supply companies cannot guaran
tee a consistent drinking water q uality (in terms
of the pH value) over the lifetime of a b u i l d i n g 's
water system , the use of copper p i pes for
drinking water suppl ies is no longer recom
mended. In the case of existin g copper pipe
work, it may prove necessary to install a water
treatment plant within the building in order to
regulate the pH value and avoid any health
hazards. Copper is a valuable raw material that
can be recycled without any problems. Its
straightforward , low-cost installation is a further

Metal pipes

Metal pipes achieve good durabi l ity. Despite

their thin walls, they are very stable and can
withstand some mechan ical damage, which
simplifies installation. However, their vulnerabil
ity to corrosion may need to be taken into
account depending on the particular conditions.
When adding metal p ipes to an existin g sys
tem, it is essential to ensure that the metal
matches that of the existing pipes, or to use a
non-metal material because otherwise owing to
the different electrochemical potentials of dif
ferent metals, galvanic corrosion could occur.
Galvanised steel pipes
Steel pipes - seamless or welded - are galva
nised inside and outside. As cadmium and zinc
can dissolve out of the galvanic coating, such
pipes should be used for service temperatures
of max. 60C only in order to avoid an unac
ceptable concentration of metal ions in the
drinking water. Galvanised steel p i pes are suit
able for drinking water with a neutral to slightly
alkaline pH value only; an acidic environment
accelerates the dissolution of the zinc coating.
Installed properly, galvanised steel pipes are
very durable, provided the anti-corrosion coat
ing is not damaged. But the high cost of instal
lation restricts the use of these pipes consider
Stainless steel pipes
Like galvanised steel p i pes, stainless steel
pipes can be seamless or welded . They are

Lead pipes
Lead pipes have been banned for new pipe
work installations for many decades. In the light
of the health hazards, the removal of all lead
pipes must be considered as an urgent priority.
Plastic pipes

Owin g to their low weight, plastic p i pes are

easy to work and insta l l , but must be fixed to
the structure at closer intervals than metal
p i pes because they are less rigid. They are not
electrically conductive and are therefore not
suscepti ble to stray currents
The smooth surface of plastic pipes makes
them less vulnerable to furring within the cross
section. They have a low flow resistance and
cause l ittle noise. They are resistant to chemi
cals and can be used for drinking water with
any pH value. Non-toxicity and minimal influ
ence on the quality of the water represent fur
ther advantages.
However, plastic p i pes are more vulnerable to
mechanical damage than metal pipes and
become brittle at low temperatures. Another
disadvantage is their considerable thermal
expansion, which calls for an appropriate
installation in order to avoid irritating noises as
the pipes expand and contract.
Plastic pipes with plain ends can be glued or
welded together. However, this i nvolves health
hazards due to the substances used or the
vapours given off when the plastic melts.
Mechanical fittings (screw or compression

joints) are therefore available and have

become well establ ished, also thanks to their
d urab i l ity and reliability.
As plastics can form ideal habitats for colonies
of bacteria, germicidal metal salts are added to
some drinking water p i pe materials. There is so
far no evidence that such salts influence the
quality of the drinking water. Untreated pipes
must be i mpermeable to light and must be laid
concealed in order to avoid attractin g bacteria.
Plastic pipes belong to building materials class
B (combustible) . They are less durable than
metal pipes, but must last at least 50 years in
order to obtain building authority approval.
Pipes of high-density polyethylene (PE-HO)
H i gh-density polyethylene can be used for
cold-water pipework only, and therefore is
mainly used for public water mains laid in the
soi l and for the supply pipes to buildings. PE
HO pipes are easy to work.
The oxygen in drinking water (average content
3 g /l) can break down the molecular chains of
the polymer under certain conditions. This can
be prevented by adding an anti-oxidant (e.g.
polynuclear phenols). The material's resistance
to ultraviolet light can be i mproved by adding
carbon black, which also dyes the material
Pipes of cross-linked polyethylene (PE-X)
The properties of cross-linked polyethylene are
better than those of other polyethylene materials.
Cross-linked polyethylene has an enhanced
impact resistance and better permissible bend
i n g , tensile and compressive strengths. As the
long-time creep rupture strength of this material
is also hig her, it is used for p ipes that must sat
isfy particularly demanding bending require
ments. PE-X is thermally stable and can be
used for hot- or cold-water systems.
Polyethylene p i pes are also available as p ipe
in-pipe systems. Here, the p i pe (PE-X) carrying
the water is installed in a corrugated protective
pipe made from PE-HO, which can be supplied
fully insulated for hot-water l ines.
Pipes of polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
PVC is a highly advanced synthetic material
with almost ideal technical properties, but is
sti ll problematic from the ecological and fire
viewpoints. This plastic is mainly used in the
form of post-chlorinated PVC-C when required
for drinking water pipes. The material is stable
up to 1 00C and therefore may be used for
both cold- and hot-water p i pes. U nplasticised
PVC (PVC-U) contains no plasticisers. It is suit
able for temperatures of max. 45C and is
therefore used for waste water only.
Pipes of polypropylene (PP)
I n pipework polypropylene is mainly used in the
form of random copolymer PP-R. The proper
ties of this material are very similar to those of
polyethylene, but PP-R can withstand higher
temperatures and is therefore also suitable for
hot-water systems. It is harder than polyethy-

1 47

Building services

nected with fittings made from metal, PPSU or


polishing, electroplatin g (e.g. chromium) or

powder coatin g .

Composite pipes


These are mUlti-layer p i pes whose layers are

permanently bonded together. The inner l i n i n g
carrying t h e water c a n be made from various
plastics (PE-HD, PE-X, PB, PP) . This lining is
embedded in a stabilising, welded aluminium
pipe which is i n turn encased in a protective
layer of plastic (PE-X, PB, PP) . Such p ipes unite
the advantages of plastic and metal p ipes. The
plastic inside and outside is not vulnerable to
corrosion or furring and is resistant to chemi
cals. Aluminium is resistant to diffusion and
ensures good d imensional stability and low
thermal expansion. Such pipes are low i n
weight and easy to install because they are
very stable but at the same time flexible.

Valves, meters etc. for water consist mainly of

metal parts. However, plastics such as PP are
often used for some of the mechanical parts
inside, plus seals made from EPDM etc. The
quantity of these materials is so low that it has
no noticeable influence on the qual ity of the
drinking water. Ceramics are being used and
more and more for the seals in fittings because
ceramics do not affect the drinking water in any
way and are more d urable than synthetic mate

Gunmetal fittings
Like brass, gunmetal is an alloy of copper, tin
(max. 1 1 %), zinc (max. 9%) , lead (max. 7%)
and nickel (max. 2 .5%) . Gunmetal components
can produced by casting only. They therefore
have a rough surface, possibly exhibiting seg
regation, shrinkage and pores. Such defects
can lead to fai lures in the case of mechanical
load i n g , excessive noise and leaks. Gunmetal
is primarily used for larger fittings.
Gunmetal and brass can be installed with metal
pipes without fear of galvanic corrosion. These
valuable alloys are readily recycled .

lene and is primarily used for supply p i pes and

d istribution pipework.

Joint fittings for plastic pipes

The connectors for plastic pipes can be made

from metal, PP-R, PVC-C, polysulphone (PPSU)
or polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) . Generally,
pipes of PP-R, PB and PVC-C require cou
plings made from the same material as the
pipe. PE-X and composite pipes can be con. I s for d ron
' kong
water systems


Brass fittings
Brass is suitable for high mechan ical loads and
may be used (according to the 2001 Drinking
Water Act) for drinking water fittings provided it
contains no more than 3% lead in add ition to
copper and zinc. Pressed or forged compo
nents are better than cast ones because of
their dense, homogeneous structure.
The surfaces of brass components can be
ground very smooth, which reduces flow resist
ance and noise, and also permits further

App r1cations

nsta 11 atlon
in ...

Technical rules





ype 0f Joont
' 2

<J) <J)
015 <J)
.Ql E
0. 0

<J) u

Chromium plating
Fittings, joints, etc. can be given a plating of
chromium, especially if they are to remain visible.
Chromium plating provides excellent protection

p H -range


C oeffIClent

of thermal

D ura b-







0.01 1 8



. .


1 .5

0.01 1 8





0.01 66








u c
o .Q

Stainless steel fittings

Fittings in sanitary areas can also be manufac
tured from stainless steel; but due to the costly
machining processes, they are more expensive
than fittings made from copper-zinc alloys.

ility '

R ecyclab- Building
class 9

E :Q D Q)
-t g

stainless steel
DIN 2463; DVGW W 54 1 ; DIN EN
ISO 1 1 27; DIN 1 7 455; DIN 1 7456
steel, hot-dip galvanised 3. 4
DIN 2440; DIN 244 1 ; DIN 2460;
DIN EN 1 0 255; DIN EN 1 0 240;
DIN EN 1 0 220
D I N EN 1 057; DVGW GW 392;
DVGW W 544



Fe (Zn)









post-chlorinated polyvinyl chloride
DIN 8079; DIN 8080
cross-linked polyethylene
DIN 1 6 892; DIN 1 6893; DVGW W 544
unplasticised polyethylene
D I N 1 9 533; DIN 8074; D I N 8075;
DVGW W 320
DIN 8077; D I N 8078; DVGW W 544;
DIN 8078; DVGW W 544







0. 1 7






0. 1 2








composite pipe
DVGW W 542


, Only with additional anti-corrosion coating.

On plastic pipes screw, compression and clamped connections are carried out with special fittin9s to DVGW W 534.
3 Zinc coatin9 to D I N 50930-6; possibly also with additional anti-corrosion coatings of bitumen or synthetic materials to D I N 2445.
4 Do not install downstream of copper components.
5 Pipe threads must comply with D I N 2999-1 .
6 May only be used with pH value 7.4, or for pH value 7.0-7.4 and TOC value ,; 1 .5 mg/l.
' The durability of pipework depends less on the material and far more on the workmanship during installation.
Class 81 (not readily flammable) can only be achieved with a flame retardant.
9 Owing to the still inadequate testing guidelines for pipework to DIN EN 1 3501 - 1 , the D I N 4 1 02 classification is still used.

1 48

C 3.2

Building services

against corrosion . However, the unavoidable

polishing and cleaning of chromium-plated fit
tings can have an impact on the environment in
the form of a fine dust i n the atmosphere or
waste water.

mainly used externally, in the ground (building

drains, sewer connections) because within
buildings their weight and vulnerability to dam
age make them difficult to lay.
They are mainly supplied in the form of spigot
and-socket p i pes with l i p seals, O-rings or D
rings made from elastomers. However, they
can also be supplied with plain ends (no sock
ets) and joined using sleeve couplings with an
elastomer inlay. Stoneware pipes are very long
lastin g . I n the form of perforated pipes, they are
also used as field drains i n subsoil drainage
Neither the production nor the use of these
pi pes result in any health or environmental haz
ards. They can be crushed and recycled as fill

Waste-water systems

Waste-water pipes must be suitable for a water

temperature of max. 95C when laid within
buildings or max. 45C when laid in the ground,
and must remain permanently gastight and
watertight at an overpressure of 0.5 bar. The
internal walls of the pipes plus the joints and
transitions should not promote deposits, furring
and clogging. Although plastic pipes are easier
to lay owing to their low weight, the poor sound
insulation of such pipes must be considered
when laying them inside buildings.

Technical rules


waste-water pipes




Steel and stainless steel pipes

Galvanised steel pipes can be used for all types
of waste-water system. They are protected
against corrosion inside and outside by hot-dip
galvanising plus a synthetic resin coating inside.
Their relatively thin walls (approx. 2 mm) and
sockets make them easier to lay than compara
ble cast iron pipes. Additional corrosion protec
tion is req uired when laying them in the soil.
Stai nless steel pipes are only used for very
aggressive waste water and special applica
tions (e.g. med ical and industrial) .

Cast iron pipes

Ductile cast iron is preferred for p i pes because
its production leads to a more stable, more
flexible and also more corrosion-resistant prod
uct than the grey cast iron used in the past.
Normally supplied in the form of spigot-and
socket pi pes, they can also be obtained with
plain ends for laying with cou p l i n g sleeves. The
seals are made from EPDM, chloroprene rub-

Stoneware pipes
Stoneware pipes are ceramic products which
are g lazed on the inside and usually on the out
side as wel l . This surface treatment makes
them extremely resistant to all the constituents
found in waste water. Stoneware pipes are

Materials for waste-water systems

ber (CR) or other elastomers depending on the

type of waste water expected.
Cast iron p i pes are used both inside the build
ing and underground. The i nner walls are
smoothed in order to prevent furri n g . They are
resistant to boiling water, impacts and abra
sion, are d i mensionally stable and incombusti
ble. Depending on the requirements regarding
chemicals resistance, the p i pes can be given a
coatin g of plastic (e.g. PUR) or zinc on the
inside or outside. The decoupling of the struc
ture-borne sound at all seals and their high
self-weight gives them good sound insulation
properties, but their installation is costly.







Type of joint




























Recyclab- Buildin