From its starting to point as a tree to its product form as a beam or piece of furniture, wood used in architecture and interior design goes through several stages and processes. A renewable resource and popular traditional building material, wood is also often cited as a promising construction material of the future, one that is suitable for the new demands of sustainability. But unlike concrete, whose molds can create even the most complex curves, wooden architecture most commonly uses straight beams and panels. In this article, we will cover some techniques that allow for the creation of curved pieces of wood at different scales, some of which are handmade and others of which seek to make the process more efficient and intelligent at a larger scale.
Clt: The Latest Architecture and News
In May, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs announced that it would cancel its high-profile Quayside project because of “unprecedented economic uncertainty.” The statement marked the end of a three-year initiative to create a living, urban “testbed for emerging technologies, materials, and processes.”
Reversing the traditional order of city planning, Sidewalk Labs imagined building a new urban district on Toronto’s waterfront from the internet up, with sensors and other data collection infrastructure embedded in the fabric of a large city block. The ambitious development—with an area of 2.65 million square feet, including 1.78 million square feet of residential space—was to be built entirely from mass timber; indeed, the extensive use of modular cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glue-laminated timber (glulam) was a chief selling point of the design (by Heatherwick Studio and Snøhetta, using a kit-of-parts developed by Michael Green Architecture).
This article was originally published on The Architect's Newspaper as "Architects apply the latest in fabrication, design, and visualization to age-old timber."
Every so often, the field of architecture is presented with what is hailed as the next “miracle building material.” Concrete enabled the expansion of the Roman Empire, steel densified cities to previously unthinkable heights, and plastic reconstituted the architectural interior and the building economy along with it.
But it would be reasonable to question why and how, in the 21st century, timber was accorded a miracle status on the tail-end of a timeline several millennia-long. Though its rough-hewn surface and the puzzle-like assembly it engenders might seem antithetical to the current global demand for exponential building development, it is timber’s durability, renewability, and capacity for sequestering carbon—rather than release it—that inspires the building industry to heavily invest in its future.
The history of timber construction stretches back as far as the Neolithic period, or potentially even earlier, when humans first began using wood to build shelters from the elements. The appearance of the first polished stone tools, such as knives and axes, then made wood handling more efficient and precise, increasing the thickness of wood sections and their resistance. Over the decades, the rustic appearance of these early constructions became increasingly orthogonal and clean, as a result of standardization, mass production, and the emergence of new styles and aesthetics.
Today we are experiencing another seminal moment within the evolution of timber. Nourished and strengthened by technological advances, new prefabrication systems, and a series of processes that increase its sustainability, safety, and efficiency, timber structures are popping up in the skylines of cities and in turn, is reconnecting our interior spaces with nature through the warmth, texture, and beauty of wood. Where will this path lead us? Below, we review 7 trends that suggest this progress is only set to continue, increasing both the capabilities and height of timber buildings in the years to come.
Advancing into the 21st century as architects enables us to explore and deliver an increasing number of sustainable approaches to architecture and the building industry. Whilst previously, concrete and steel have been predominately used throughout the construction industry, architects are now beginning to realise the importance of new technologies, such as timber, and use them for efficient construction, sustainability and cost effective purposes.
In a recent international competition, architects Gilles Retsin and Stephan Markus Albrecht, were selected among 20 finalists for the extension of the Meistersingerhalle, located in Nuremberg, Germany. The architects collaborated with Bollinger-Grohmann engineers, Transsolar climate engineers and acoustic specialists such as Theatre Projects, to design what is to be the world’s first concert hall building constructed using cross laminated timber (CLT).
Structural timber is in the midst of a renaissance; an ironic trend given that timber is arguably the most ancient of building materials. But new innovations in structural timber design have inspired a range of boundary-pushing plans for the age-old material, including everything from bridges to skyscrapers. Even more crucially, these designs are on the path to realization, acceding to building codes that many (mistakenly) view as restrictive to the point of impossibility.
The timber structures of today aren't just breaking records - they're doing it without breaking the rules.
In an effort to reinvent an iconic American fast-food brand, McDonald’s U.S. has announced a new direction for the corporation, beginning with rethinking the restaurant’s current archetypal design both in its interior eating spaces and exterior urban landscape. A primary example of this commitment can be seen in the recently completed design for McDonald’s Global Flagship in Chicago by Ross Barney Architects.
The structure, which fills an entire city block in the heart of Chicago, was envisioned as a hallmark example of both the architect and the corporation's shared commitment to environmentally sustainable design. Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), an essential material for the project, replaced many of the commonly-used building materials such as steel, concrete, and plastics that have a larger environmental footprint.
A few weeks ago we published an article on a recent sustainability crisis that often goes unnoticed. The construction industry has been consuming an exorbitant amount of sand, and it's gradually depleting. When used for manufacturing concrete, glass, and other materials, it is a matter that should concern us. Construction is one of the largest producers of solid waste in the world. For instance, Brazil represents about 50% to 70% of the total solid waste produced. But how can we change this situation if most of the materials we use are not renewable, and therefore, finite?
Popularized in Europe and gradually gaining attention in the rest of the world, Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) stands out for its strength, appearance, versatility, and sustainability.
A conceptual successor to the blue Drawing Studio completed by CRAB on the university campus in 2016, the Innovation Studio will serve a larger program – a space for small start-ups led by recent graduates to develop with support from business experts within the university and from across the globe.
Riksbyggen and Sweco Architects were announced as the winners of a government-led competition to create a cross-laminated timber framed housing development for the Johanneberg district of Gothenburg, Sweden. The proposal, called “Slå rot” (Swedish for “put down roots”), was chosen for its response to its existing environment with nods to tradition, while still providing an innovative structural system and modern living to the neighborhood.