Low-cost and low-carbon: the hybrid future of sustainable social housing?

Lisbjerg Bakke is a vision of what sustainable social housing in Denmark can look like. The hybrid timber construction of 40 apartments is an open source design that anyone can access, and has 70% lower climate emissions and 28% lower lifecycle costs compared to the Danish standard.

Lisbjerg Bakke, developed by: Vandkunsten Architects, Hustømrerne & AL2Bolig

On the outskirts of Aarhus lies Lisbjerg Bakke, a 4,100m2 hybrid timber building and winner of the 2014 ‘sustainable social housing of the future’ competition. In a joint venture between the architects and engineers, the full lifecycle of the building has been taken into consideration from the outset, with a flexible design that allows the reconfiguration of the building into new layouts or office space, and building components that can be easily upgraded. Decommissioning has already been designed into the building, with the use of special joints meaning that Lisbjerg Bakke will be able to be disassembled with components available for reuse. 

One fifth of the Danish housing market is social housing, and with municipalities as the buyers and maintainers, value for money is imperative. The lifecycle cost of this Lisbjerg Bakke, is estimated to be 28% lower than standard social housing, and the hybrid timber design offers 3–4% more floor space than a concrete building of the same size. The construction phase was remarkably fast, with less transport requirements creating a better working environment for the builders. The end users of the building were consulted early on in the design stage, and by utilising wood’s ability to absorb moisture, those residents benefit from improved indoor climate with very low volatile organic compound levels.


  • innovation benifits icon: innovation benifits icon
  • innovation benifits title: ENVIRONMENT
  • innovation benifits text: The building materials used for this project results in 70% lower use of fossil resources – each square meter of the building has 2.3kg of carbon embedded every year, assuming a lifespan of 50 years.
  • partnership benifits icon: partnership benifits icon
  • partnership benifits title: SOCIAL & LOCAL
  • partnership benifits text: The open-source project information has been widely distributed amongst the industry and used educationally by students and housing associations. The Royal Danish School of Architecture is putting together a handbook about the project to further share the lessons learned in at Lisbjerg Bakke.
  • economic benifits Icon: economic benifits Icon
  • economic benifits title: PARTNERSHIPS
  • economic benifits text: The development of Lisbjerg Bakke was only possible through strong collaboration between the developers, timber suppliers, housing associations and the municipality, with end users consulted in the design stage.

The Nordic Wood in Construction Secretariat is hosted by EIT Climate-KIC

The project is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.