Urban Development

Taicang Intelligent Technology Innovation Park


Frey Group and Suzhou University Architectural & Urban Planning Design Institute Co., Ltd. have jointly won the competition for “Taicang Zhihui Valley Innovation Park” after two rounds of the evaluation process.

The competition is directly related to the Central Committee meeting on the 14th Five-Year Plan, and Frey Group is once again fulfilling a role model function on the way to a carbon-free economy.

The project is located in the new district of Loujiang in Taicang, 40 km from downtown Shanghai and 55 km from downtown Suzhou. This is the core area of the Yangtze River Delta, one of the most developed economic regions in China.

The floor area of the tender project is 112,447.1 m². Various apartment buildings, multi-storey R & D high-rise buildings, commercial buildings and service centers will be built in the park. The project extensively uses passive energy-saving technologies, renewable energy saving technologies and intelligent power grid to avoid CO2 emissions. It thus plays a demonstrative role in China for the construction and development of a CO2-free urban district.

The project focuses on the development direction of Taicang industry with the aim of training highly skilled talents, transforming scientific research results and establishing high-tech enterprises. The two universities are expanding the innovation chain for science and education, striving to create an integrated and innovative pattern for education, scientific research and incubation in industry. The total investment of the project is 3.12 billion yuan. It is developed, built, financed and operated by Taicang Wengao Zhihui Technology Industry Co, Ltd.

Frey Group and Suzhou University Architectural & Urban Planning Design Institute Co., Ltd. show up for project planning, low carbon ecological community design, heating and smart grid.

China plans to achieve carbon peak by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060. Green manufacturing will be promoted in the industrial sector, energy-saving standards in the construction sector will be improved, and green and low-carbon transportation will be accelerated. The development of passive houses, ultra-low energy buildings, and net-zero energy buildings are in line with the international development direction. Building a zero-carbon city district is the goal of this project.

The three high-rise office buildings on the south side of the park have angled facades. According to the analysis of solar radiation in summer, the radiation in the south of Taicang is lower than in the east. In order to adapt to the ground shape, the main orientation of the buildings is from south to east. The facade plan is designed so that the exterior windows of the building face south and the solid walls face east and west. This can significantly reduce solar heat gain in summer (by 70 kWh heat gain per square meter of exterior windows compared to conventional buildings) and significantly reduce cooling demand. At the same time, the south-facing windows have the most favorable solar heat in winter (compared to conventional buildings per square meter, they increase the value by 40 kWh) to reduce the heating demand.

Frey Group and Suzhou University Architectural & Urban Planning Design Institute Co., Ltd. combine their respective strengths and focus to pursue the development strategy of the Innovation Park in terms of project positioning and design principles. In the future, they also plan to cooperate with Taicang Wengao Zhihui Technology Industry Co., Ltd. building with “smart +” is the core and solid foundation for achieving the development goals.



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.


Passive house renovation in Zhuhai


A flagship renovation project for passive house standards in subtropical climate zones

For the first time ever a total overhaul will be undertaken in the South Chinese city of Zhuhai to meet passive house standards in a subtropical climate. The German architecture firm Frey Architekten will lead the project in Zhuhai, assisting with its development and implementation. Regarding innovative sustainable technology, ecology and economy, the award-winning concept is a flagship project with a global impact in the area of passive house renovations in temperate climes. The densely populated residential and commercial district spans 21.25 acres for the renovation, which will rely on 24 sustainable types of technology.

before and after

In light of the local climate conditions, the high demand for cooling and dehumidifying (compared to the low demand for heat) will play a central role. The existing buildings will be renovated according to the so-called “Four-Step-Protection-Principle” from which the following strategies for energy efficiencies for passive cooling will emerge:

  • Well-shaded curtain walls that insulate against direct sun rays and reduce the energy demand for air-conditioning;
  • Provision of interior thermal comfort through heat insulation and cold storage from the external shell;
  • Nocturnal cooling through natural ventilation;
  • Heat-storing construction of the interior surface that balances out the warmth produced during the daytime.

The following passive techniques will be used:

  • Natural ventilation from the inner courtyard that draws out the warmth from the interior rooms;
  • Utilisation of WRG and dehumidifying components in the ventilation system;
  • Underground heat pump using water as a cooling element;
  • Double-paned Low-E-Windows and heat conductivity of about 2.0 W/ (m2K);
  • Heat-reflecting construction materials on the exterior surface;
  • Verdant facades and roof-tops for thermal protection and shading;
  • LED-lighting.

A photovoltaic system with 252 kW was installed that covers the majority of the power demand for lighting, ventilation, living, etc. Thirty wind turbines have also been implemented to leverage local climate and energy resources. After taking these measures, the demand for cooling and dehumidifying sank 50 per cent, energy demand decreased by 539,999 kWH and the primary demand for energy was reduced by 60 per cent annually.

With the help of the verdant facades, the water filters and the monitoring system, between 80,000 and 140,000 gallons of waste water are regenerated daily. Rainwater from the buildings and streets is filtered by water-permeable panels and absorbed by the plants for reuse.

In summary, the impact of the renovation efforts:

  • CO2 emissions have been reduced by 60 per cent (that equals 280 tons annually);
  • 47 per cent of the overall energy demand is covered by 17,115 square feet of photovoltaic modules, which produce 254,000 kWh of electricity annually;
  • The annual maintenance costs are reduced b y 517,000 CNY with an amortisation of 19 years

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.


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.