Center for Light and Environmentally-Friendly Structures ZELUBA®

Research project

ZELUBA® Start-up project

Global challenges such as climate change, population growth, rural depopulation and large transnational migration flows make new demands on the functionality and environmental balance of buildings. In the ZELUBA Start-up project, scientists from the Fraunhofer WKI and the TU Braunschweig are working together on the conceptual development of a hybrid construction system for lightweight and environmentally-friendly buildings. The building systems being developed will open up new marketing opportunities with world-wide application possibilities, for example as “Rapid Deployment Systems“ or standard solutions for residential construction.

Project goals

Performance criteria for hybrid building systems

Performance criteria are generally considered regarding individual parameters such as thermal insulation, deflections or fire behavior. In (hybrid) systems, the individual requirements influence other functions in both direct and indirect ways. Energetic and acoustic requirements can, for example, determine the wall thickness. From a static load viewpoint, the wall thickness may therefore be oversized. Such relationships are, of course, optimized during the design phase - at least on a rudimentary level. There exists, however, no systematic solution which can complexly evaluate all the important challenges and identify potential extremes. We investigate performance criteria as a complete system for residential and commercial buildings and develop a uniform risk-oriented approach for the safety of the system.


Development of a model system for lightweight and environmentally-friendly structures

There is a rapidly-increasing demand for environmentally-friendly, lightweight systems which can be modularly assembled, easily transported and utilized repeatedly in succession. Heavy building materials such as concrete, steel and stone are less than optimal in this respect. Furthermore, their manufacture requires a high energy outlay. Due to their physical properties, constructions made solely of wood are, however, only usable to a limited extent. Hybrid building systems specifically exploit the advantages of the different building materials. They enable the production of modular and sustainably-usable buildings, an increased use of renewable resources in multi-storey building construction and an efficient use of local resources.

The conception of hybrid building systems requires complex specialist knowledge regarding material application, construction, design, legal requirements, supply systems and energetic systems in harmony with ecological and economical aspects. A great deal of experience has been gained concerning the application of individual construction materials in buildings. Examples for the use of hybrid systems have, however, been rare until now and not well documented.

A major goal of our research is therefore the development of a model system with hybrid, modular components and construction units which, depending on the requirements of the location, enables a form of building-block system to be utilized in order to create a building which is optimally suited to its situation.

The development of the model system includes the following sub-projects:

  • Development of hybrid modular building systems
  • Development of innovative fasteners for hybrid building systems
  • Development of multi-criteria optimization procedures for hybrid building systems
  • Development of spatial plane load-bearing structures from thin-walled sheets
  • Development of modular decentralized building and energy technology
  • Development of the fire protection concept for hybrid building systems


Rapid Deployment Systems

According to the statistics of the United Nations (UN), more than one billion people are living in inadequate accommodation. The view of the UN is that the creation of adequate living conditions is a fundamental solution to the problems arising through refugee crises. Lightweight and environmentally-compatible buildings open up the possibility for the development of a completely new concept for a Rapid Deployment System (RDS). Decisive for the successful application of the RDS are the costs, the simplicity and the speed of the construction process. The RDS has the potential to develop a range of products, manufactured in Germany for the international market, whilst simultaneously providing technical solutions to urgent world problems.

The development of the RDS includes the following sub-projects:

  • Development of the building system for static and dynamic loads
  • Development of ductile, rapidly-deployable connectors for three-dimensional hybrid frame constructions
  • Development of analytical models for lightweight systems with optimization analysis including cost analysis
  • Development of a fire protection concept for the system
  • Lightweight composite ceiling and wall systems
  • Technical building systems
  • Insulation systems

Status Quo

The first project phase served the substantive and organizational linking of the project participants as well as fundamental research. The focus is currently on the integration of industrial partners and the acquisition of research projects into system and product development.

Our partners at the TU Braunschweig

  • Institute for Building Design and Timber Construction (Prof. Dr.-Ing. Mike Sieder)
  • Institute for Structural Design (Prof. Dr.-Ing. Harald Kloft)
  • Institute of Steel Structures (Prof. Dr. Klaus Thiele)
  • Institute for Building Services and Energy Design (Prof. Dr.-Ing. Norbert Fisch)
  • Institute of Building Materials, Concrete Construction and Fire Safety, Division of Fire Safety (Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jochen Zehfuß)
  • Institute of Machine Tools and Production Technology (Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christoph Herrmann)


Ministry for Science and Culture of Lower Saxony

Term of the project: 1.1.2013 - 30.06.2018