Completion of the passive house settlement in the German-Chinese Ecopark


In these weeks, the passive house settlement in the German-Chinese Ecopark in Qingdao will be completed. The “China Academy of Building Research”, a committee of the Chinese government, declared the settlement a demonstration project of the 13th Five-Year Plan in the category “Near-Zero Energy Building Technology System and Key Technology Development”.In the German-Chinese Ecopark on the shore of the Yellow Sea, a new living and working area is being built, which is mainly supplied with renewable energy. The project is located near the German Center, at the entrance of the C-2 area.

After a thorough analysis of the routes, traffic and people flow, it was decided to design the development as a car-free residential area. This guarantees the preservation and use of landscape vegetation.In coordination with the surrounding environment and the building forms of the region, the urban planning design provides for a row development with wide spacing between them. In this way, the open residential quarters and the designed landscape blend harmoniously with the surroundings.

The design took care to preserve a large number of green spaces within the construction area to improve the residential quality of the settlement. Centrally, a park interacting with partially underground service facilities is to become a lively, attractive green space.Thus, semi-subterranean common areas have been arranged on the eastern side of the central open space, which, together with the community center of the first phase of construction, provide sufficient public leisure facilities.

The project is one of the “model cases” of China’s current five-year plan. The projects listed in the State Five-Year Plan are the definitive milestones that the Chinese government considers essential to Chinese social and economic development.Frey Group is the main investor in cooperation with the state-owned Sino-German Ecopark.The buildings are on schedule and on budget, and are regularly ranked #1 in government ratings for construction quality and safety.



Renaturation and urban development in the Kubuqi Desert


The Frey Group cooperates with the Elion Resources Group in the renaturation, reclamation and settlement of the Kubiqi Desert in Inner Mongolia in northern China

The Elion Group was founded in 1988 in a saltern in Kubuqi, one of China’s deserts, and later developed into a national company with the goal of preventing land degradation and transforming desert into fertile landscapes and cities. As part of its commitment to prevent land degradation and to transform deserts into habitable land, Elion Resources Group has developed the Kubuqi model for restoring an intact environment in the Kubuqi Desert. Elion’s achievements have already been recognized by the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, and are also supported by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Since then, more than 6,000 km² of desert land has been reclaimed, capturing 15.4 million tons of carbon, producing 18.3 million tons of oxygen, improving water resource conservation and lifting more than 100,000 people out of poverty. The company is currently expanding its business activities to other areas related to environmental protection. The renaturation of the desert is creating a new, high-quality habitat on previously uninhabitable land, which, through agricultural use, will enable many people to earn their own living. Furthermore, the reclamation of the former desert requires new living space in the form of settlements and towns. For the planning and development of these newly emerging habitats, the Frey Group will now continue and expand its cooperation with the Elion Group on a large scale.


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.


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.