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.
Architects are often driven by forces which are stronger than aesthetics or even client whims and desires. To some extent we’re captive to the tools and materials we use, and the legal limitations placed on us as architects. Today a new code definition has changed one type of building in all of the ways architects usually control.
A team of architecture students at the CODE department of the TU Berlin have built PLUG-IN, a pavilion addressing the Home not Shelter! Initiative. Built as a collaborative process between students and refugees, the pavilion was realized under the direction of Prof. Ralf Pasel and his team. PLUG-IN physically expands the living space to creates a responsive project that goes beyond housing needs. The project was specifically proposed and built for the Dutch Embassy in Berlin.
Ever wonder why the skyline of Los Angeles is peppered with flat top skyscrapers? Or for that matter, why does such a global cosmopolitan city have so relatively few skyscrapers dotting its cityscape, the majority residing in downtown LA?
The answer lies in a section of the Los Angeles Municipal Code introduced in 1974 – Sec. 57.118.12 – “Emergency Helicopter Landing Facility.” The code stipulates that “Each building shall have a rooftop emergency helicopter landing facility in a location approved by the Chief.” The text also dictates that the helipads measure 50′x50′ in addition to a 25′ safety buffer. The resulting skyline thus far has been dominated by flat roof skyscrapers that would only make it through the planning process if in strict accordance with this code. However, a newly introduced proposal called the Hollywood Community Plan would allow skyscrapers to be constructed along the subway served “Hollywood Corridor.” In lieu of embarking on a plan that would surely result in more box type towers, an amendment has been introduced into the plan that would exempt skyscrapers within the corridor from having to conform to Sec. 57.118.12 helipad requirements. More After the break.