Mass timber youth center awarded for its sustainable design
The Neutinamu Youth Center by Matteo Cainer Architecture received an Honorable Mention in the Yeonsu-gu Youth Center International Design Competition for its innovative and sustainable design.
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Located in Yeonsu-gu, Incheon Republic of Korea, it was designed as a dynamic and safe social space for teens. This eco-friendly mass timber architectural space features floating gardens to surround young people in natural beauty. On the exterior, the structure looks similar to a jungle gym, playground or garden structure. The sustainable design is intended to promote new lines of thinking for a more ecologically-sound future. This design aimed to establish the youth center as a leading youth organization championing ethical and forward-thinking design.
The youth center is designed as a place to help teens develop the skills necessary to address the challenges of the future. The concept was created from the idea that a youth is like a tree that grows. Specifically it takes inspiration from one of the strong symbols of Yeonsu-gu, the Zelkova Serrata tree or neutinamu, which symbolizes health.
The reminiscence of a jungle gym is no accident. Neutinamu represents the idea of a tree as a climbable timber architecture reaching for the sky, which symbolizes growing youth and the framework to host training and development activities for teens.
The building also features multiple gardens and public gathering spaces with lovely views of the city. This was designed as a community space, to create harmony with the surroundings, whether that is nature or the human community. Furthermore, the building is lifted off the ground to create space for gardens underneath. It increases the amount of green space that can be fitted on the property. The timber grid and vegetation growing on the sides of the building provide young people with clean open spaces to enjoy fresh air and sunshine.
The building is “climbed” via passageways, stairs and bridges. Neutinamu is designed to be a calm space that comforts through the use of warm materials such as wood. It’s also a structural framework that allows the architecture to evolve over time.
Cross-laminated timber was used for the structure itself. Meanwhile, self-sufficient energy technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines sit on top of the building. There is also water collection and reuse facilities integrated into the design.
On the other hand, vegetation on the building’s façade absorbs carbon dioxide. It also protects the interior from noise, heat and pollution from the street, and blocks wind or sun depending on the season.