2022.002 | WooQie

  • January 20, 2022
  • andyro

Short for ‘Wood’ + ‘Quonset’, the WooQie project is based on the 1994 Solarc Project by German Architect Jürgen Carstens & ArchiNova GmbH, this floor plan features 2 bedrooms, Living, Kitchen and Dining in a double height space at grade, and 2 bedrooms with a shared ensuite in a loft. The design can readily be converted to duplex, quad and 8-plex formats for affordable housing.

Construction photo from 1994, near Stuttgart Germany. The original Solarc featured a glulam frame, cellulose insulation over a timber structural deck and a green roof. We will be replicating many of these features but with integral shade overhangs to limit cooling loads and more South-facing glass in a timber curtain wall structure to maximize Winter solar gains and light.

This glue-laminated C-Frame is a variation on construction technology featured in our 1709 | SolarQ Project, that aims for a much lower embodied carbon and energy footprint, featuring an all-wood structure, with mineral batt insulation instead of an all-steel construction with spray polyurethane insulation. These two construction approaches still take full advantage of the vaulted structure to minimize area-to-volume ratio, while maximizing our solar orbit geometry to increase passive solar gains (upwards of 40% of heating load contribution) and minimize heatloss – all while supporting a rapid construction process which in turns lowers labour cost inputs. This plan can have either a slab-on grade main level (better for passive solar) or a full basement with a concrete topping slab and radiant in-floor heating (hydronic) tied to an ASHP system – aka. an ‘Air to Water’ system. Materials featured are glulam, eastern red or white pine, concrete and anodized aluminum timber curtain walls. The timber package and engineering is delivered as a kit, pre-cut and pre-drilled for rapid assembly provided by our third party supplier. Interior fit outs and infill framing by others.

Pricing is just in for project WooQie (short for Wood Quonset). ~$400k in shell and core build costs for almost 3,000 sf of living space – that is still under $150/sf., where most of our projects are over $500/sf! We calibrated energy loads based on our equivalent steel buildings, for a TEUI of 30kWh/m2/yr (not PER), and embodied carbon (emissions) of 169MTCO2e vs. 423MTCO2e for the steel and foam insulated versions. How did we calculate carbon? With this tool we developed: TAI Carbon Calculator. Is it accurate? With every project we do we re-tune the assumptions in the calculator. It calculates high but it also assumes inclusion of all fixtures, materials, finishes – not just core structural components. It’s not exact, we need to do that in the BIM, but it’s a great way to get a quick insight. Zero emissions (operational) – and low-carbon build. And yes, this can be imagined as a multi-family structure also.

Double-height loft concept




  1. Alan left a comment on April 8, 2023 at 6:13 pm

    Has a WooQie actually been built? Can you elaborate on what constitutes core build costs (not) covered by the $400k? Does that include the foundation, interior walls, stairs, plumbing, wiring and other minimums to make the house inhabitable?

    • andyro left a comment on April 8, 2023 at 8:51 pm

      Many – mostly in Germany by https://www.archy-nova.de/solarc-erdhuegelhaus/ where I used to work. The concept is simple, glulam primary frame, structural decking. Common to thousands of A-Frames throughout the 1970’s. The only difference here is the beams are curved to give a better volume. Shell and core is a construction term. It basically means interior fit and finish are up to the homeowner – that includes kitchens, appliances, casework, painting, fixtures – everything that homeowners typically deal with on a reno. But the core plumbing, building envelope are already there. We do not design ‘kit homes’ and this is just a budget target. The only ‘real cost’ is the one a GC will give you on a contract.

  2. Chris left a comment on September 24, 2023 at 9:00 pm

    This is really an interesting alternative to the Quonset hut. Beautiful. Was your Solar Q more economical per sq ft or the WooQie?

    • andyro left a comment on November 26, 2023 at 12:05 am

      They are different animals. If I were to build for myself the WooQie is easier – I could do everything myself, SolarQ needed specialty spray foam guys and facility erectors. Operational and embodied carbon footprints are way less with the WooQie – which is why we have gone back to it. The Germans had it right after all.

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