Sino-German Ecopark Passive House Community “Frey Dejian Gongyuan”


Sino-German Ecopark locates in Qingdao at the coast of the Yellow Sea, it is going to be a new city district which integrates office and residence functions and mainly power-supplied by renewable energies.

The project site has a regular shape, but the topography is complex. It locates at the back side of the mountain and has a large internal elevation. There exists a gulch from southwest to northeast. It is at the gateway of C2 group of Sino-German Ecopark, and close to the German Center.

Maximizing conservation and utilization of the original landscape vegetation, by thorough analysis of vertical planning, separation of pedestrian and vehicles, urban master planning, aims at maximally improving the pedestrian environment inside the community and determining the mode of transportation in the car-free community.

Coordinating with the neighboring landscape environment and meets the requirement of the overall architecture form control in the area, a deterministic distribution of architectural layout in this area is formed. It provides the spacious landscape courtyard and the simultaneous integration with the complete spatial form of Sino-German Ecopark.

This project is an open neighborhood block, the central landscape belt connects the city green axis and the city park, forming a landscape corridor. The building land occupation is reduced as much as possible in the design for the allotted large landscape green space, to increase the greening rate and the residential quality.

Community public service functionalities are set up in the east side of the central sunken landscape, and together with the community center built in Phase 1, it provides residents of the passive house community as well as residents from neighboring communities with various public activity sites.


Heidelberg Village – “Living Community”


The Heidelberg Village is under construction in Bahnstadt, a district in Heidelberg. The land parcel, which is located on the property once occupied by the old freight train terminal, covers about 108.6 hectares.

On about 6,100 square meters of land, the Frey Architecture Firm will build a residential and commercial complex. Project “Living Community” will be perfectly aligned with Heidelberg Village’s vision of active social community lifestyles and a multi-generational apartment concept.

The area will be framed by the “Langer Anger” roadway and will have integrated bodies of water in the south; the north will be border on the “Green Mile.” The building on the west side has 5 floors and 8 in some parts of the complex. To the east it is bordered in its entirety by the 5-floor adjacent building. Both buildings are entirely handicapped-accessible and have underground garages.

Quarter Management and Forum

Personal shyness, extreme pressure at work, individual consumer pressures, etc. reduce the opportunities and the willingness to establish social networks on the inter-personal level. There is a linear relationship between the risk of isolation and the density of a neighborhood. Hence, if many people are supposed to share compact residential space, careful and attentive support is required.

A quarter management system is installed at Heidelberg Village to provide an institution consisting of permanent staff members who handle the management of these interests. This institution occupies its own premises within the building that serve as a place of contact for residents who need assistance. The Quarter Forum is another point of contact for the people who live in the building as well as those who reside in the quarter as a whole.

The careful selection of residents, the good balance of the interests represented in the house and the stimulation of active resident interactions allow the leasing company to foster harmonious shared living situations.

Technical Characteristics of the Residential Units

Handicapped accessibility pursuant to DIN 18025 is guaranteed for the most part. Given that wheelchair users and other individuals with unique support needs do reside in the entire complex. Given the diversity of the psychic or physical impairments the use of flexible and intelligent solutions is mandatory.

Accommodation in Nursing Home Like Residences

The building is not a nursing home in compliance with the German Nursing Home Construction Act. The individual residents are housed individually in independent units whose occupants change variably on an as-needed basis. Entry conditions, such as those of a nursing home due to the nursing care rate charged, do not exist. Nevertheless, the sum total of units occupied by individuals represented the defined groups of people does represent a nursing home like environment.

The Living Community Approach

The utilization concept behind Heidelberg Village is based on the idea of a living community as a social policy vision. In the English language, the term “living” is frequently used to consolidate the definition of the German words “wohnen” (dwelling) and “leben” (living, being alive) and to describe the phenomenon of “human existence.” Being human in one’s own individual and personal evolvement as part of the urban metropolitan community is a different process these days.


Nanjing Kaishang No. Zero Passive House Project


The project area locates in Lishui New District in southern part of Nanjing city. Lishui New District is involved in the “12th Five Year Plan” of Nanjing city and is defined to be a new suburban district of “high-end industries, intensive space utilization, cultural spirituality and beauty, developed and extending transportation system, ecological civilization and well-being”.

The project is dedicated to providing competitive high-quality office environment and the residential space for residents, and attracts relatively young entrepreneurs as well as home buyers with providing entrepreneurs with various kinds of as well as multiple body volume architectural space. It facilitates the talents backflow from main city to this region, thus driving the regional social development.

Because of the suitable natural environment conditions on the site, the overall layout complies with the current existing natural structure. The original landscape and water ponds are kept and connected, forming the central landscape belt with the simultaneous adaptation to topography changes. Various architecture blocks are set up, taking shape of a ventilation corridor and improving the micro-climate of the park. The park is divided into east and west sites according to the service function, the east site is set up with high-rise buildings and the west site is set up with many multi-storey small-scale office buildings. The underground architecture adapts to the topography. The west site has one storey underground, the southern side is set up based on different groups. The northern side is designed to connect the first basement of the east site. The east side has two stories underground, and the range of underground area meets the requirement of building set-back restriction as well as the requirement for arrangement of municipal pipeline network within the site.

The overall architectural layout follows the general plan of the area, forming an undulating and scattering city skyline. Through the coherence of the architectural form and the mountains on the west side of the site, a city image of varying and staggering is formed.

The project is designed to retain the existing plants within the site to a maximal extent, and tries to form a continuous compacted soil greening region as large as possible. Of the landscape, the central landscape belt connects each architecture block and group and coordinates with roof greening, three-dimensional greening, sunken garden greening, grey space greening and indoor greening, forming a multi-level tridimensional greening system. From the point view of ecological effects, the continuous greening system is beneficial to the improvement of park micro-climate, helping reduce the heat island effect and lower the building energy consumption in the park. The multi-level compacted soil greening at the same time helps the drainage of park precipitation, providing convenience for the maximal utilization of “Sponge City” infrastructures by the park.


Smart Green Tower


Discover more on the Official Website of Smart Green Tower >>

Digital Transformation in Cities

A building that not only powers itself, but surrounding ones as well?

If a car can run on a lithium-ion battery (think Tesla), why not a city block too? Introducing a vastly superior way of constructing life and work space for people everywhere: Imagine a battery-operated building powered solely by the sun. Now imagine an entire neighborhood whose only energy source is solar.

In partnership with Siemens, Fraunhofer Institue for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) and others, Frey Architekten has developed the Smart Green Tower with about 70 one- to four-room apartments along with offices. High performance-cell PV panels with excellent low-light performance and an innovative interconnection system of the sockets along the façade are being developed, while energy storage of about 0.5 MWh in the form of a lithium-ion battery, enhanced by vanadium redox flow batteries, will help link the building and the district.

The building management system will use a direct current (DC) intermediate circuit rather than the standard alternating current (AC) transmission and distribution of electrical energy. As the project developers put it: “In the case of a supply via an AC-coupled photovoltaic battery system,“ says Mr. Frey, “the generated direct current of the PV generator is rectified in the battery, then if necessary reconverted again in alternating current and distributed, in order to again be rectified in many devices – with correspondingly high efficiency losses.”

The energy concept is based mainly on the following aspects:

  • own energy generation based on renewable energy sources, in a volume that temporarily exceeds own consumption and can thus be used by other buildings in the neighbourhood
  • flexible internal energy storage in larger dimension, with the option to connect further energy producers in the district
  • optimised handling of energy pursuant to the current offer, demand and from a cost perspective within the building
  • provision of balanced energy loads from the building in conjunction with the adjoining district, to the Smart Grid over an intelligent connection

From a Green City to a Smart Green City

Thus, the energy concept of the Smart Energy Tower is fundamentally different from projects in which only single, self-contained buildings merely produce energy for own consumption or else feed the aforementioned into the grid. It is thus also consistent with the objectives of the Green City and will seamlessly be incorporated into Freiburg’s new energy- and resource-optimised commercial area GIP – Green Industry Park, to which the northern industrial area planning to be remodelled.

The vision: Such a network of several intelligent objects works optimally in an intelligent grid, and thus forms the basis for innovative district concepts, in which various Smart Energy Buildings communicate in a meaningful way – the Smart Energy District. This idea leads to the vision of a Smart Energy City, in which the Smart Energy neighbourhoods coalesce into an urban network.


Interview with Wolfgang Frey about the Smart Green Tower (english / german subtitles):


Design: Residential Complex “Baicaopo”


This project is being realized based on the Chinese urban development motto “Building of Beautiful Villages.” It calls for a general overhaul and in some cases the new construction of existing villages whose existing buildings are in bad structural condition and who are lacking key infrastructure.

Featuring British-style architecture, the “Baicaopo” Residential Quarter is located in Yuci District of Yuci of Jinzhong. Close to downtown, this quarter will offer ecological, premium quality housing. The location and landscapes in the construction area are diverse: From the west to the east, the land is sloped and surrounded by fields as well as mountains. Valleys and mountain ranges are visible to the east, which give the area all of the hallmarks of a natural resort-like setting.

This residential quarter is a real estate project that encompasses other aspects and a diverse range of interests. One objective is to guarantee the maximum real estate value to the builder; on the other hand it has to reflect the value vision and uniqueness of the architectural planning. The quarter offers a perfect blend of nature and European flair.

It comprises the following classifications:

1. Premium quarter: In this part of the quarter, duplexes with residence offering 420 m2 of living space each as well as single family villas offering approximately 800 m2 of residential space will be built. In the premium quarter, the existing geographic locations and landscapes will be reused and the green zones will be expanded. As a result, the residential density will be reduced, which in turn will maximize the property values.

2. Middle class quarter: Single-family homes with gardens as well as row houses will be built here. This quarter will provide the greatest capacity of residential space.

3. Community housing: Multi-story residential complexes will be built in this area to accommodate the demand for resettlement housing. Although the residential density will be higher, large-scale green zones between the groups of houses will compensate for this fact. The layout of the roads and the placement of the houses will be adapted to the properties of the terrain.

The general objective is to modify the original landscapes as little as possible. The location and orientation of all houses will be optimized to the extent necessary to always offer beautiful views of the surrounding area.


Design: Hetai Ziyuan, Taiyuan


The Hetai Ziyuan building complex is located in the new Longcheng Quarter of the City of Taiyuan, right by the main traffic hub. Line 2 underground railway station Zhongxinjie West can be found in the immediate proximity. The complex is just 4.5 km from the southern railways station Taiyuan and only 6.5 km from the Wusu Airport. Hence, this complex boasts ideal traffic connections.

The vision the architectural planning is based upon is an analysis of the functions of the individual buildings. The goal of the commercial functions is to integrate the entire building complex. An S-shaped downstream pedestrian zone runs from the south to the north where it grants access to a half-open plaza, which is the main shopping mile within the building complex. In the east, the shopping street borders on the main traffic hub. The spacious roofs of the office buildings offer penthouse residents a separate private space.

The so-called “hallway tree” breaks with the tradition that limits the functions of a hallway to the connection of the rooms on the same floor. Several of these hallway trees connect the rooms in the basement and top floors throughout the entire building complex, which makes the entire structure come alive.

The office buildings located in the northeast are the focal points of the entire building complex. They are reminiscent of leaves sprouting straight from the ground and symbolize the force of life and evolution. Around sunset, the interior lighting illuminates them. As a result, they create the image of a tree in the sky that baths the residents in light from above.

The “lines” running through the leaves are composed of solar collectors. On the one hand, they deliver an interesting interplay of light and shadows on the public areas on the top floor; on the other hand, they store the warmth of the sun and collect rainwater.
They are – in every sense of the word – the fruit of intelligent technology and architecture.


Design: “Jinzhong Yuci” Residence for Seniors


The Jinzhong Yuci Residence for Seniors has been designed as an oasis for retirees who enjoy recreational activities and the opportunity to experience close interactions with nature.

The property covers about 180 Mu (12 ha) of floor space; approximately 25 Mu (1.67 ha) of the land has been reserved for apple trees distributed across the western and southern fringes of the outdoor areas. Another parcel of 60 Mu (4 ha) will be dedicated to a vegetable garden. The objective is to offer residents a place where they can combine the lifestyle of pensioners who want to play an active role in taking care of their needs. The growing of organic fruit and vegetables provides them with access to a healthful harvest.

Two portals – one at the northern and one at the western end of the property – will be installed on the property. The architectural plans call for the integration of retail stores on the northwestern side where residents will be able to shop for their everyday needs. This area will also be designed as a meeting point for the people who live here. In the north, the builders are planned to install a transition zone to separate the complex from the main road and the adjacent neighborhood, where row houses are being built.

Two building complexes are being built in the northeast and southeast. The main street that runs through the property as a thoroughfare will separate the two complexes. The individual homes can only be reached via the side streets to reduce the noise on the main thoroughfare and to encourage residents to spend more time in the beautiful outdoors areas.

The recreation center is located at the western entrance. The park in the background and the impressive house built in Black Forest style aims to draw the attention of guests. The climate in Shanxi dis not compatible with landscaping that uses large-scale bodies of water, which is why small ponds will be installed everywhere on the property.


Design: Nanyang Plaza


The terrain in the proximity of Lanhua Street is about 4 km from downtown Jincheng and is one of the key future urban development zones. It is the site of a multi-functional building complex that offers diverse venues for cultural activities, tradeshows, conferences, tourism as well as retail, a recreational park as well as residential space. Nanyang Plaza is located on the intersection of Binchuan Road and Taiyue Street. To the west, it is bordered by an urban green zone and to the south by the Huayuantou Water Park.

The Nanyang Plaza complex stands 100 m tall and provides a total of 55,000 m2 of floor space. It comprises 27 floors and 2 basements.
The building comprises three parts:
Basement level 1 through the 4th floor accommodate commercial space; while the 5th through the 16th floor are occupied by larger scale offices and the 17 through 27th floor house small offices.

From an architectural perspective, the buildings have been constructed in different heights but as a single building complex. They stand tall and appear to be agile, simple yet strong and thanks to the trapezoid shape of the roof, the buildings look like a group of transparent crystals.

Depending on the lighting required for the room functions, two different types of building materials have been used for the façade: standard glass and anti-reflective glass. These two types of glass have been used systematically so that the transitions between the different components are seamless.

The characteristics of these types of glass give the buildings different looks during the daytime and at night. In the daylight, thanks to the reflections from the sky, the anti-reflective glass appears to be lighter while the standard glass in the narrow windows seems to be darker. In the evenings, the anti-reflective glass looks dark from the outside, while the interior light passes through the narrow windows finished in standard glass and creates a vertical band of light. The rays of light further enhance this effect that fall through the angular tip of the roof from the top. The entire ensemble appears to be as bright as a crystal, assuming a symbolic and expressive function.


The Woodhouse


The “Green Building Woodhouse”
– an innovative pilot project

A pilot project for ecological building, the wooden multi-family house aims to bring all aspects that are fundamental components of sustainable architecture according to architect Wolfgang Frey’s “five-finger-principle” together under a single roof.

What makes the Woodhouse so unique from a construction technical perspective is that it is an energy efficient, multi-family home that has several floors and is built from solid wood. No concrete or a single brick have been used to build its exterior. To date, this approach remains highly unusual in the construction business.

The building accommodates 14 generously appointed one to five-bedroom apartments equipped with premium amenities. The ecological features include a roof, which has been converted into a green zone in its entirety; a photovoltaic system, thermal solar collectors and a wood pellet fired heating system.

Social diversity and inclusion

As far as the residents of the Woodhouse are concerned, the Frey Architecture Firm bets on innovation as well: thanks to the different types of apartments available, the building provides a foundation for integrative residential and living models. Twelve of the 14 apartments are under the management of the cooperatively administrated rental association “pro scholare,” which is a key component of the integrative social concept.

Three of the apartments have been leased to the non-profit organization “Lebenshilfe Breisgau,” which sub-lets the units to inclusive tenant partnerships of people who have handicaps and those who don’t. Given that “Lebenshilfe Breisgau” expressed its interest in the apartments with the developer and the architects early-on, an intensive discourse on the available options was already initiated during the planning phase of the Woodhouse. The relevant apartments were planned and built to match the needs of the future tenants.

Research and innovation

The solid wood multi-family home could not be erected until comprehensive research work conducted in partnership with the Material Testing Institutes in Braunschweig and Leipzig was complete. Until then, the use of wood as the static load bearing material for multi-family homes comprising several floor levels was not possible because of construction law restrictions and building technical constrains. The fire risk appeared to be too high.

However, the pilot project proved that not all timber construction results are the same.

The motto of the project was: Only those who know the material to be used inside out are in a position to use it optimally. Consequently, it is important to investigate the value of traditional and natural materials instead of developing new industrial products all the time.

For the Frey Architecture Firm, one special focal point was the energy balance sheet of the materials used. It is common practice to use materials whose production consumes a lot of energy to build houses that are supposed to be very energy efficient once occupied. For instance, the manufacturing of cement or the firing of roof tiles (this is also true for those that ensure high degrees of insulation) requires extreme amounts of energy and results in massive CO2 emissions.

The CO2 balance sheet of the Woodhouse is significantly better thanks to the CO2 storage capacity and the green zone roof. Hence, the subject matter of energy efficiency was already considered during its development.