Tall Tinder: Are Wooden Skyscrapers Really Fire Safe?

IZM - Illwerke Zentrum Montafon / Architekten Hermann Kaufmann ZT GmbH. Image © Norman A. Müller

While interest in tall buildings continues to grow, there still remains one obvious concern: combustibility. So how safe are structures really? Arup Connect spoke with Robert Gerard, a fire engineer in Arup’s San Francisco office, to find out how high-rise wood buildings take fire safety into account.

Venice Biennale 2014: New Zealand Focuses First Entry on Pacific-Style Architecture

Auckland Art Gallery / FJMT + Archimedia. Image © John Gollings

has appointed Auckland architect David Mitchell to serve as creative director and lead the country’s first participation at the 2014 Venice Biennale. Bridging from Rem Koolhaas’ theme, “Fundamentals”, Mitchell plans to exhibit New Zealand’s tradition of pacific-style architecture and light timber construction through a series of models.

“We’re going to show off some of the most unsung architecture in the world, our Pacific architecture,” described Mitchell. “It’s an architecture made out of poles, beams and panels and not out of heaps of rocks, bricks and tiles.”

SOM Gets Behind Wooden Skyscraper Design

Courtesy of ArchDaily

Although known for their iconic skyscrapers of glass and SOM has begun to redefine our idea of the high-rise by pushing for wood as an alternative material for tall buildings. Not only could it help solve the worldwide problem of housing for those who are or will live in cities, but wooden skyscrapers could also address climate change by reducing a building’s carbon footprint. Click here to read about the structural system that has come up with and don’t check out our previous coverage on the equally fascinating Timber Tower Research Project!

Southern States Outlaw LEED Building Standards

1315 Peachtree, in Atlanta, achieved LEED Platinum Certification. However, will newer buildings in be held to the same standards? . Image Courtesy of Perkins + Will

The US Green Building Council’s federally adopted LEED certification system has come under legislative siege with lobbyists from the timber, plastics and chemical industries crying out, “monopoly!” Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama have lead efforts to ban LEED, claiming the ’s closed-door approach and narrow-minded material interests have shut out stakeholders in various industries that could otherwise aid in the sustainable construction of environmentally-sensitive buildings.

Most recently, Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, slipped in a last minute amendment to both the Housing and Urban Development and Department of Transportation appropriation bills stating no tax money may be used to require implementation of any green building certification system other than a system that:

The Timber Tower Research Project: Re-imagining the Skyscraper

Dewitt-Chestnut Apartments © Hedrich Blessing via SOM

SOM has come up with a structural system for skyscrapers that uses mass timber as the main structural material and minimizes the embodied carbon footprint of the building. The firm believes that their proposal is technically feasible from the standpoint of structural engineering, architecture, interior layouts, and building services and would revolutionize the traditional skyscraper as we know it.

Read on to learn more about The Tower Research Project.

Woodskin: The Flexible Timber Skin

Courtesy of MammaFotogramma

Have you ever wanted to create delicate, complex shapes from plywood, but can’t because it’s too stiff and unforgiving? Well all that might soon change, thanks to Milan-based design studio MammaFotogramma. They have created a type of flexible, ‘Woodskin‘ triangular tiles of Russian plywood.

Read more about Woodskin after the break…

Timber Fin House / Neil Dusheiko Architects

© Neil Dusheiko Architects

Architect: Neil Dusheiko Architects
Location: Walthamstow, London,
Project Year: 2010
Contractor: RK Construction
Engineer: Momentum
Photography: Neil Dusheiko Architects

   

Modern Villa / BBVH Architecten

© Luuk Kramer

Architects: BBVH Architecten
Location: , The Netherlands
Constractor: BB-X
Developer: Willson Real Estate
Project Year: 2009
Project Area: 250 sqm
Photographs: Luuk Kramer

Iron Horse Hotel / The Kubala Washatko Architects

© , Inc.

Architect: The Kubala Washatko Architects
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Project Year: 2008
Photographs: The Kubala Washatko Architects 

Designed by the Kubala Washatko Architects of Cedarburg, Wisconsin, the Iron Horse Hotel is an upscale boutique hotel that caters to motorcycle enthusiasts and travelers.  The 100,000sf project was completed in 2008 as a refurbishment to an existing factory — more images and architect description after the break.

Rishikesh House / Rajiv Saini

© Sebastian Zachariah

Architects: Mr. Rajiv Saini
Location: , India
Project Year: 2010
Project Area: 640 sqm
Photographs: Sebastian Zachariah

DuPont Environmental Education Center / GWWO Architects

© Robert Creamer

Architects: GWWO Architects
Location: Wilmington, Delaware,
Structural Engineer: MacIntosh Engineering, Inc.
MEP Engineer: Mahaffy & Associates, Inc.
Civil Engineer: Rummel, Klepper & Kahl, LLP.
Project Year: 2009
Project Area: 13,900 sqf
Photographs: Robert Creamer

Sandal Magna Community Primary School / Sarah Wigglesworth Architects

© Mark Hadden Photography

Architects: Sarah Wigglesworth Architects
Locaiton: Wakefield,
Planning Supervisor: Nps North East
Main Contractor: Allenbuild North East
Structural Engineer: Techniker
Client: Wakefield Metropolitan District Council and NPS North East
Project Year: 2010
Project Area: 1,740 sqm
Photographs: Mark Hadden Photography

Victoria 73 House / SAOTA

©

Architects: SAOTA – Stefan Antoni Olmesdahl Truen Architects
Location: Cape Town,
Interior Design: ANTONI ASSOCIATES
Structural Engineer: Tony Cooksey Structural Engineers
Project Area: 1,099 sqm
Photographs: SAOTA

Mercer House / Vibe Design Group

© Robert Hamer

Architects: Vibe Design Group
Location: , Australia
Project Area: 314 sqm
Photographs: Robert Hamer

Japanese Precut Timber Construction


The traditional of Japanese architecture is extremely detailed. Its exacting precision and craftsmanship has stood the test of time for centuries. However, the process of handcrafting each wooden beam with mortises and tenons is quite labor intensive, and with an aging workforce, automation of the production process is key to continuing the tradition.

House in Onomichi / Studio NOA

Courtesy of

Architects: STUDIO・NOA Architect & Associates
Location: Onomichi,
Project Year: 2010
Project Area: 109 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of Studio NOA

Kew House / Vibe Design Group

© Robert Hamer

Architects: Vibe Design Group
Location: Melbourne,
Project Area: 321 sqm
Photographs: Robert Hamer

House in Yotsukaido / Studio NOA

Courtesy of

Architects: Studio NOA Architect & Associates
Location: Chiba,
Project Year: 2011
Project Area: 160 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of Studio NOA