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Cross Laminated Timber: The Latest Architecture and News

Foster + Partners Unveils Design for The William, One of London’s Largest Timber Developments

Foster + Partners has revealed the design for a new mixed-use development in the northern end of the central London high street. The building is located on Queensway, opposite the Whitley, the famous department store, which is also being transformed by Foster + Partners as part of a larger redevelopment scheme. Named The William, after William Whiteley, the eponymous founder of the famous Whiteleys, the project includes six floors of office space, shops, and 32 new homes, 11 of which will be affordable.

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Lina Ghotmeh Selected as Designer of the 2023 Serpentine Pavilion, with a Proposal Aiming for the Smallest Possible Carbon Footprint

Beirut-born, Paris-based architect Lina Ghotmeh has been announced as the designer of the 22nd annual Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. Titled “À Table,” the French expression for sitting together to eat, her proposal introduces a slender wooden structure with nine pleated petals supported by radial ribs. Inside the pavilion, a ring of tables and benches invites visitors to enter, sit down and relax, eat or work together. According to the architect, the modest space and low-slung canopy is meant to make people feel close to the earth. The Serpentine Pavilion will be open from June to October 2023.

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OMT Architects Designs Africa's Tallest Timber Tower in Zanzibar City, Tanzania

German-based architecture firm OMT designed Africa's tallest hybrid timber tower in Zanzibar City, Tanzania. In partnership with Birk Heilmeyer Frenzel Architects, engineering firm Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineers, and CPS Developers, the "Burj Zanzibar" will rise 96 meters tall to accommodate 266 residences and recreational and conferencing facilities. The mixed-use tower will promote the locally available wood and support the growing urban infrastructure that, according to the government plans, expects to attract tech companies to turn the island into a leading hub for Africa's technology companies.

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Icon Architects Designs North America's Tallest Timber Building in Toronto, Canada

Icon Architects unveiled the design of a 90 meters tall timber tower in Toronto, Canada, which would become, once completed, North America's tallest building made of wood. Named the "191-199 College Street," the project is aligned with the master plan led by Alison Brooks Architects, Adjaye Associates, Henning Larsen, and SLA to develop Toronto's Waterfront that seeks to turn the Canadian city into a hub of affordable housing, robust public spaces, and new business opportunities. The construction of the CLT tower will cut over 3,300 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and accommodate around 400 affordable rental units.

Grimshaw Reveals Design for Futures Institute at Dollar Academy in Scotland, UK

Architecture practice Grimshaw has revealed designs for the Futures Institute at Dollar Academy (FIDA) in Scotland, UK, an open-access learning platform developed by the Dollar Academy, one of Scotland’s leading independent schools. The Institute’s new building will receive the country’s first Living Building certification.

FIDA was launched in May 2021 to tackle fundamental challenges in education: providing equitable access and closing the poverty-related attainment gap; finding compelling alternatives to traditional teaching and exam systems; and addressing sustainability. The initiative invites young people across Scotland to participate in innovative projects rooted in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These challenges include workshops, skills-based courses, design challenges, and competitions, all offered in-person and via an online platform to enable the broadest possible participation.

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Toronto’s Leaside Innovation Centre Will be the First Mass Timber Flatiron Building in Canada

Canada suffers no shortage of flatiron buildings, with historic examples dotting the provinces from Toronto to Vancouver to Lacombe, Alberta, and beyond. Canada also enjoys its status as a hotbed of mass timber construction with Quebec serving as an epicenter of sorts for the movement. However, these two things—flatiron building design and the use of engineered wood products—have never yet been combined.

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UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is a Stage for AI-Generated Collective Poems

UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is a Stage for AI-Generated Collective Poems - Featured Image
© Alin Constantin Photography

UK’s contribution to Expo 2020 Dubai is a wooden sculptural structure that celebrates cultural diversity and collaboration, highlighting Britain as a meeting place of cultures and ideas. Created by artist and designer Es Devlin, the Poem Pavilion uses advanced machine learning algorithms to transform the input of visitors into collective poems. The latter can be read in illuminating displays on the façade, transforming the pavilion into the exhibit itself.

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Alison Brooks Designs New Entrance Building for Cambridge College

UK-based practise Alison Brooks Architects has recently won the competition to design the new Entrance Building and Children’s Literature Resource Centre for Homerton, the biggest college in Cambridge. Described by the architects as a “lantern”, the proposal is a three-storey mass-timber framed pavilion which will welcome visitors to the grounds while also providing additional study and exhibition space. Through its morphology and copper-clad facades of the upper floors, the new building establishes a dialogue with its context and provides a flexible space that can accommodate the College’s future spatial needs.

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Ross Barney Architects' CLT Design for McDonald's Expands the Possibilities of Timber Construction

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© Kendall McCaugherty, Hall+Merrick Photographers

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.

Engineered Timber Helps Indigenous Architecture in North America to Emphasize Resilience

The rising popularity of mass timber products in Canada and the United States has led to a rediscovery of fundamentals among architects. Not least Indigenous architects, for whom engineered wood offers a pathway to recover and advance the building traditions of their ancestors. Because timber is both a natural, renewable resource and a source of forestry jobs, it aligns with Indigenous values of stewardship and community long obscured by the 20th century’s dominant construction practices.

Is It Time To Start Thinking About Wooden Industrial Buildings?

Industrial buildings are among the best examples of Louis Sullivan's famous phrase "form follows function." Generally, they are functional, efficient buildings, quick to build and unornamented. That is why, when we study the industrial heritage of different cities and countries, we are able to understand local materials, technologies, and traditional construction methods of the time. England's red brick factories come to mind, as well as the roof lanterns used to provide natural light to factories and other typical construction elements. Metallic and precast concrete structures are currently the most commonly used due to a combination of construction efficiency, cost, the possibility of expansive spans, and the unawareness of the benefits of other materials, such as wood. Often, these industrial warehouses are also characterized by being cold and impersonal, in addition to having a considerable carbon footprint. But Canada's experience in recent years is noteworthy, where there have been an increasing number of wooden buildings constructed for industrial programs.

Quebec, Canada: the Heart of Mass Timber Construction

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Modern timber construction is nothing short of breathtaking. The wooden arches and unique curves delight even the most creative architects. The scale and perception of a wooden building make it blend in with the decor while still remaining noticeable. The inspiration and the possibility of achieving this type of construction are now trending upward, but who has the knowledge and expertise for these projects? The province of Quebec does, a world leader in mass timber construction.

The Upshot of Sidewalk Labs’ Canceled Toronto Project

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).

Material of the Future: 4 Architects that Experiment with Cross Laminated Timber

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.

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Open Platform and JAJA Architects Win Competition to Design Denmark’s First Wooden Parking House

Open Platform (OP) and JAJA Architects, together with Rama Studio and Søren Jensen Engineers, have won the open competition for a new parking house in Aarhus. In line with Denmark’s vision of becoming climate neutral by 2050, the structure will be the country’s first wooden parking house.

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Architects Propose World's First Prefabricated Cross Laminated Timber Concert Hall for Nuremberg

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).