Bold By Paul Esombi Ekema


By Paul Esombi Ekema

Site analysis

The Hansaviertel located in the central Mitte borough of Berlin, mostly populated by 15 storey rectangular and square buildings is the chosen site for this assignment.
Designed by Architects Raymond Lopez and Eugene Beaudouin in 1957, the 22 x 23,70 m footprint concrete building which is composed of a structural core and walls in Bartningallee 11/13, has a height of 51m and 87 housing units.

Urbanism and challenges

With a steady increase in world's population, towns emerging to cities, urban densities stretching out their limits, an alternative means in building affordable homes to address some of these challenges including global warming need to reflect in our design pattern of today.

Part of the solution

The initiative of creating building foundations at roof tops of some urban structures that can withstand light weight construction methodologies seems to be the way forward. Building upward with today's technology is an incredible opportunity that needs to be exploited since land in cities is becoming limited.


The incredibility of wood as a building material for creating new and healthy spaces above cities demonstrates how nature and technology can be harmonized in providing a global solution that ensures quality eco-friendly building alternatives.
As a natural material with its low energy properties, modern in its nature that reflects sustainability in architecture, strength in its homogeneous bonded character, the advantages offered by engineered wood in order to reduce the challenges of urbanization are the catalyst to my design concept.

Design description

‟BOLD” is the name of this design proposal.
The 30 storey tower in mass timber construction is an engaging and inviting sculpture that philosophically extends out into the community with a variety of housing facilities including other amenities such as fitness, daycare and a vertical farm. With its bold character that is crafted of  engineered wood, high performance glazing and steel beams, the composition of materials bring unity to the entire design concept. Safety stairwells and elevators in mass timber construction guarantee the vertical movement within the tower. The mass timber walls and elevators penetrate the structural core and walls of the existing building which are bonded by HBS and HSK-Connectors to take on lateral and tensile forces.

The roof-top foundation that sits directly at the top of the exisiting structure, has 7m cantilevered steel beams at level 17, that provides space for fitness and other indoor leisures. Open staircases connect the fitness area to the gallery at level 18 where other activities are located.

A daycare facility surrounded by an out door terrace engulfs levels 19 and 20 respectively. With an interior pattern of transparency, one communicates around the public spaces. The rectangular facade and floor plans consciously engage to the architectural legacy of the existing buildings within the vicinity.

Luxury flats including maisonette apartments are scattered from levels 21 - 44.
In total, up to 50 families can be housed in flats between 150 - 200 m2, these include barrier free apartments. The roof space at levels 45 and 46 is conceived as a sanctuary to accomodate the sky garden. There are four elevators in the building, two are assigned to serve the sky garden and the barrier free apartments while the others share common shafts with the existing building.

Structural analysis and building envelope

  • Kerto Q LVL for structural core and walls with a height of 12 m are envisaged
  • Kerto S LVL for structural floor beams and colums
  • Steel beams at roof foundation and other levels
  • Glulam columns, structural exterior and internal walls are envisaged to support building to 30 storeys
  • Variations to design grids increase facade esthetics
  • Glazed balconies are strategically placed around the buildings to increase  a spectacular city view

Community benefits

  • Sustainable city food production through sky farming
  • Healthy Eco-friendly city accommodation
  • Community farm market at street level
  • No transportation of food distributiona


City Above the City architecture competition

Plan B : City Above the City architecture competition 

Metsä Wood challenged architects and students around the world to push the boundaries of modern wood building design in the urban environment. Entrants from 40 countries created their Plan B to urbanisation using wood (Kerto® LVL – laminated veneer lumber) as the main material. The task was to design a wooden extension to an existing urban building. The entries were designed to 69 cities worldwide.

Explore the designs