Prefab net-zero energy timber complex built in Beijing

Beijing-based architecture firm SUP Atelier has completed the Xuhui Demonstrative Project, a solar-powered community complex that serves as a demonstration project for net-zero energy technologies in Beijing. Built to follow BREEAM and LEED standards, the complex boasts an array of sustainable features ranging from low-waste prefabrication to green roofs. Real-time monitoring and smart automation optimize energy savings and comfort levels.

Commissioned by Xuhui Group’s Beijing office for the Xuhui No. 26 Block in Shunyi District of Beijing, the Xuhui Demonstrative Project serves as a small-scale sharing space with rooms that can be digitally booked by residents. The project consists of three main buildings — a fitness center, a meeting room and a book cafe that doubles as an exhibition space — organized around a central sunken permeable courtyard that retains and purifies rainwater. Accessed via wooden boardwalks, each unit is prefabricated from timber; the modular design allows for flexibility and reduced construction waste.

“As an experimental platform for prefabricated buildings with zero energy consumption, the project has established an integrated mechanism of the ‘design-construction-test-feedback’ process,” SUP Atelier explained in a statement. “With the help of information technology, the analysis of sustainable indicators can bring forth implementation methods, which can fit in newly built and renovated buildings in cold areas or serve as prototypes in both public and housing projects.”

To protect against Beijing’s cold winters, the buildings are wrapped in a high-performance, double-layered timber envelope as well as composite facades with photovoltaic double-glazed glass. Raised roofs with air-ducting devices help mitigate the summer heat and promote natural ventilation. Renewable energy is drawn from film glass, photovoltaic panels and a hybrid heating system that taps into solar thermal energy and an air-source heat pump.

*All images are credited to Su Chen and Chun Fang