Nowadays the main building materials used in the construction industry are concrete, steel and timber. From the point of view of ecological sustainability, there are four important differences between these three materials: first, timber is the only material of the three that is renewable; second, timber needs only a small amount of energy to be extracted and recycled compared to steel and concrete (but the implementation of its potential is not as developed yet); third, timber does not produce waste by the end of its life since it can be reused many times in several products before decomposing or being used as fuel and; and fourth, timber traps huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere – a tree can contain a ton of CO2  – and the carbon absorbed remains embedded as long as the wood is in use.
Considering the fact that 36 percent of total carbon emissions in Europe during the last decade came from the building industry, as well as 39 percent of total carbon emissions in the United States, the materiality of construction should be a priority for governments’ regulations in the future as measurements against global warming. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the level of carbon emissions of the big economies across the globe are big issues that need to be solved with urgency in order to avoid larger, more frequent climate catastrophes in the future. The current regulation in several countries of the EU, which is incentivizing the use of renewable materials in buildings, is showing the direction the building industry in many other parts of the world should follow. And if these measures are adopted across the EU and beyond – if other countries start to follow this tendency as well – there will be significantly more wood in cities.
For the past several years, there’s been increasing talk of a renaissance in timber construction. Although we are predisposed to thinking of wood as a component limited to the classic balloon-frame house, new technologies have generated alternative materials which look like and are created from wood, but are stronger and more versatile than their more traditional cousins. While there are a number of different products on the market, including Glulam and Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL), the material that seems to hold the most promise for changing construction is Cross Laminated Timber (CLT).
The engineered material is created by stacking and gluing smaller pieces of structural lumber, each layer perpendicular to the one below it, to create wooden panels with a number of advantages to other commercial construction materials. According to Reinhard Sauter, owner of Sauter Timber, “CLT has excellent seismic values, it is extremely durable, competitive in price to steel and concrete, lighter and thinner than the latter, and with reduced construction times” - all of which made it an obvious material candidate for the company’s award-winning construction facility in Rockwood, Tennessee, completed in 2014. The structure, which was built with a Glulam frame and CLT wall and roof panels, offers an insight into how these materials can be effectively utilized in future commercial and industrial structures.
Emergent Technologies and Design Programme (EmTech) at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London has recently exhibited their project, The TWIST at the Timber Expo in Birmingham. The project is an experimentation in the properties of milled plywood, developed throughout 1:1 tests. Through these experiments, The TWIST seeks to gain full control of the material properties, developing articulated surfaces with the variable orientation of its elements. Read more about the project after the break.
Japanese office, The Shelter Corporation, has announced their 17th international architectural ideas competition, open to undergraduate and post-graduate students (as of September 11, 2015) across the world. The Shelter Corporation, which focuses on timber and wood-framed buildings, hosts this competition annually to generate discussion among students on the future of wood and timber construction. Believing in the importance of a sustainable built environment, the firm hopes that this competition can be the gateway for many young architects-to-be to enter the workplace with new ideas.
A new study shows that timber buildings can be up to 10-15% cheaper to construct than traditional designs in several different building types. The study, “Commercial Building Costing Case Studies – Traditional Design versus Timber Project,” was led by Andrew Dunn, chief executive of the Timber Development Association (TDA) in Australia. Part of a seminar series touring Australia, the report contains detailed designs of four building types in both timber and conventional construction, with a quantity surveyor comparing cost estimates between them. See how timber compared to conventional methods after the break.
Budapest-based art program Hello Wood has put out an open call for Project Village, their 2015 workshop and symposium to be held between July 11 and July 19. This year's event follows the success of Hello Wood's workshop in the summer of 2014, which saw participation from over 120 architects, artists and designers from 25 countries.
Few books have addressed the use of wood in large, non-residential buildings. While light frame construction and residential resources are common, little has been written about the use of wood in taller, urban, commercial and institutional buildings. Solid Wood presents a survey of new timber architecture around the world to reveal this construction type’s unique appeal and potential. Not surprisingly, enthusiasm for solid wood architecture (also known as mass timber architecture) and engineering is now growing rapidly among a new generation of architects and designers.
Among the changes in material technology that are constantly altering the architectural landscape, one of the most popular - and most dramatic - is the idea of the timber skyscraper. And with vocal advocates like Benton Johnson of SOM and Michael Green leading the discussion with projects like the Timber Tower Research Project, the wooden highrise is on the verge of becoming a mainstream approach.
To further the conversation in the USA, the US Department of Agriculture, working in partnership with Softwood Lumber Board (SLB) and Binational Softwood Lumber Council (BSLC), has recently launched the Tall Wood Building Prize Competition, an ideas competition with a $2 million prize. To find out more about tall wood buildings, we caught up with Oscar Faoro, Project Manager of the competition. Read on after the Break for our interview and more details on how to enter.
UPDATE: Submissions are now closed. We will contact the winner in the week.
Next month, the annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo is coming to the Big Easy for three days of speakers and educational workshops that discuss sustainable architecture. If you haven’t booked your ticket already, here is a chance to attend the event free of charge!
reThink Wood is offering a full pre-paid pass to Greenbuild this year ($700 value) to one lucky ArchDaily reader. The winner will also be able to meet with architects on-site that are passionate about the green movement and reducing the environmental impact of buildings through innovative design with wood.
To win, just answer the following question in the comments section before September 26 12:00PM EST: "Which architecture firm(s) are doing the most innovative green designs with wood today?"
https://www.archdaily.com/546309/win-a-free-full-pass-to-greenbuild-from-rethink-woodAD Editorial Team
Wood. The United States is the largest producer of the natural resource in the world. But yet we rarely see it in commercial, high-rise construction. So we asked a wood expert -- Rebecca Holt at Perkins+Will, an analyst for reThink Wood's recent Tall Wood Survey -- to tell us about its potential benefits.
AD: Why is wood a material architects should use in taller buildings?
There are lots of reasons to consider wood – first it has a lower environmental impact than other traditional choices like concrete and steel. Wood is the only major building material that is made the by sun and is completely renewable.
Next month, the AIA National Convention is coming to Chicago – bringing together the best and brightest building professionals to network, and learn about growing trends in the architecture industry. If you haven’t booked your ticket already, here is a chance to attend the event free of charge!
reThink Wood is offering a full pre-paid pass to the AIA National Convention ($945 value) to one lucky ArchDaily reader. The winner will also be able to meet with architects on site that are passionate about innovative design with wood in mid-rise, and even high-rise projects.
To win, just answer the following question in the comments section before May 21 12:00PM EST: What architect(s) are doing the most interesting work with wood today?
While interest in tall timber buildings continues to grow, there still remains one obvious concern: combustibility. So how safe are timber structures really? Arup Connect spoke with Robert Gerard, a fire engineer in Arup’s San Francisco office, to find out how high-rise wood buildings take fire safety into account.
New Zealand has appointed Auckland architect David Mitchell to serve as creative director and lead the country’s first participation at the 2014 Venice Biennale. Bridging from Rem Koolhaas' theme, "Fundamentals", Mitchell plans to exhibit New Zealand’s tradition of pacific-style architecture and light timber construction through a series of models.
“We’re going to show off some of the most unsung architecture in the world, our Pacific architecture,” described Mitchell. “It’s an architecture made out of poles, beams and panels and not out of heaps of rocks, bricks and tiles.”
Although known for their iconic skyscrapers of glass and steel, SOM has begun to redefine our idea of the high-rise by pushing for wood as an alternative material for tall buildings. Not only could it help solve the worldwide problem of housing for those who are or will live in cities, but wooden skyscrapers could also address climate change by reducing a building's carbon footprint. Click here to read about the structural system that SOM has come up with and don't check out our previous coverage on the equally fascinating Timber Tower Research Project!
The US Green Building Council’s federally adopted LEED certification system has come under legislative siege with lobbyists from the timber, plastics and chemical industries crying out, “monopoly!” Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama have lead efforts to ban LEED, claiming the USGBC’s closed-door approach and narrow-minded material interests have shut out stakeholders in various industries that could otherwise aid in the sustainable construction of environmentally-sensitive buildings.
SOM has come up with a structural system for skyscrapers that uses mass timber as the main structural material and minimizes the embodied carbon footprint of the building. The firm believes that their proposal is technically feasible from the standpoint of structural engineering, architecture, interior layouts, and building services and would revolutionize the traditional skyscraper as we know it.
Read on to learn more about The Timber Tower Research Project.
Have you ever wanted to create delicate, complex shapes from plywood, but can't because it's too stiff and unforgiving? Well all that might soon change, thanks to Milan-based design studio MammaFotogramma. They have created a type of flexible, 'Woodskin' triangular tiles of russian plywood.