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Timber Trends: 7 To Watch for 2020

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.

Gymnasium Régis Racine / Atelier d'Architecture Alexandre Dreyssé. Image © Clément Guillaume Canoeing Training Base / PSBA + INOONI. Image © Bartosz Dworski Hälleskogsbrännan Visitor Center / pS Arkitektur. Image © Jason Strong Photography La Seine Musicale / Shigeru Ban Architects. Image Cortesía de Blumer Lehmann + 25

What is Glued Laminated Wood (Glulam)?

Glued Laminated Wood (Glulam) is a structural material manufactured through the union of individual wood segments. When glued with industrial adhesives (usually Melamine or Polyurethane resin adhesives), this type of wood is highly durable and moisture resistant, capable of generating large pieces and unique shapes.

Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge / GEC Architecture. Image © Adam Mork The Roof House / MILODAMALO. Image © Ilya Ivanov Casey Key Guest House / Sweet Sparkman Architects. Image © George Cott Wooden House / MAATworks. Image © Marcel van der Burg + 15

Mass Timber: Shattering the Myth of Code Exceptions

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. 

World's Tallest Timber Tower to Be Built in Norway—Thanks to New Rules on What Defines a "Timber Building"

Courtesy of Moelven Limtre
Courtesy of Moelven Limtre

Over the last few months, we have seen a surge in large timber structures being constructed across the globe claiming to be the biggest, the tallest, or the first of their kind—for example, plans for the Dutch Mountains, the world’s largest wooden building, have recently been revealed. Contractors Moelven Limtre are one of the key drivers of this change as the perception of timber as a load-bearing material becomes more common. Their director Rune Abrahamsen is responsible for one of the current claimants of the world record for the tallest timber building, “Treet” in Bergen, at 51 meters tall. However, the contractor’s latest project Mjøstårnet is set to reach an even taller height of 81 meters.

Courtesy of Moelven Limtre Courtesy of Moelven Limtre Courtesy of Moelven Limtre Courtesy of Moelven Limtre + 11