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.
As architects face up to the need for ethical, sustainable design in the age of climate change awareness, timber architecture is making a comeback in a new, technologically impressive way. Largely overlooked in the age of Modernism, recent years have seen a plethora of advancements related to mass timber across the world. This year alone, Japan announced plans for a supertall wooden skyscraper in Tokyo by 2041, while the European continent has seen plans for the world’s largest timber building in the Netherlands, and the world’s tallest timber tower in Norway.
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.
Steel and concrete facades have dominated contemporary cityscapes for generations, but as pressures from climate change pose new challenges for design and construction industries, some firms are turning to mass timber as the construction material of the future. But could it be used for structures as complex as skyscrapers?
Considered one of the noblest building materials - and also a favorite of many global architects - wood delivers aesthetic, structural, and practical value in the most versatile of ways. Through different techniques, such as crafted or prefabricated wood, wooden construction remains relevant not only in the history but also in the forefront of architecture and design (thanks to new technologies that have expanded its possibilities).
Wood as a building material is experiencing a bit of a renaissance. Though elemental and deceivingly simple, applied technology has transformed the building material. If you have questions about how to choose and use wood, Think Wood's mission is to provide access to the expanding pool of research and information.
At a time when engineers, designers, and builders must find solutions for a resource-constrained environment, new wood technology, materials, and science are accelerating efforts to enhance safety and structural performance.
International Building Code requires all building systems, regardless of materials used, to perform to the same level of health and safety standards. These codes have long recognized wood’s performance capabilities and allow its use in a wide range of low- to mid-rise residential and non-residential building types. Moreover, wood often surpasses steel and concrete in terms of strength, durability, fire safety, seismic performance, and sustainability – among other qualities.