The Latest: Wooden Skyscrapers!

The wood bolsters its way as building material for high-rise buildings, its centuries of "service" and its energy benefits endorse it.

Since the beginning of the century, a contagion effect is occurring: to use the wood as main element in tall buildings, due to their properties was not difficult to see it in constructions of low dimensions and, in the majority of cases, in isolated areas. Now, designers from all over the world have «rescued» the wood for use in the cities, as a claim of the commitment that they and their customers have adopted to protect and safeguard the Environment… and their own comfort!!

The highest building with wooden structure of the World is in Norway, in the second largest city of the country: Bergen. Its name is Treet, which means tree in Norwegian, and with its 14 floors reaches 49 meters in height, which are distributed in 62 luxury apartments, with gym and terrace on the top floor for the exclusive enjoyment of the tenants. Its construction took place between 2014 and 2015, although it took a little more in the design: took place between 2011 and 2013, things of the industrialization… 😉

The final project architect was Artec, although the original idea was the architect Geir Brekke Lund and Partnere in 2005. The structure of the tower is supported by a concrete die, from hence consists of stands of laminated wood and prefabricated modules, these modules cover four floors, and, among them, two platforms (in the fifth and tenth floor) of intersection. These platforms are beams of plywood (of course). To counter the strong winds, the structure has straps to give it stability, and to protect it from the outside, glass in two facades and metal panels in two other.

As curiosity I will tell you that they have been placed three concrete slabs, but it has no structural function, it serve as anchor of the building, giving it a greater weight, the glued laminated wood has a density of approximately 400 Kg/m3, being of the concrete of 2,400 Kg/m3. It is also noteworthy that this building will prevent 21,000 tons of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

US has also embraced fashion and is already operating the tallest wooden building in the country and the largest surface of wood the world with 21,000 square meters, its name is T3, and is located in Minneapolis. The architectural firm that designed it was the Canadian Michael Green Architecture, and its name, T3, derives from the initials of Timber, Technology and Transit. It has seven storeys high and the use is for offices and commercial premises. If in the Treet all the wood came from Norway, in this building the wood laminate products comes from trees killed by the beetles of mountains. These insects are responsible for the destruction of 24 million hectares of forest in North America, although in its defence it must be clarified that their proliferation is a product of global warming.

3,600 cubic meters of timber have been used in the structure, this allows to store, thanks to the ability of this material to absorb CO2, around 3,200 tons of carbon during the useful life of the building. It took only 2.5 months in assembling the property, making an average of 9 days per floor, faster than if it had been steel structure. They used 4,800 square meters of panels of plywood (NLT) for covering roofs, floors, and interior divisions, equivalent to nine hockey rinks.

In Vancouver it is culminating which will be the (new) tallest building of wood (replacing the Bergen building), a tower designed by Acton Ostry Architects Inc, other fans of this material. Its construction began in November of 2015 and is expected to be completed before the summer of 2.017, responds to the name of Brock Commons, belongs to the University of British Columbia and on it will reside 404 students who surely shall presume to spend the night and study there.

It is a hybrid made up of two reinforced concrete cores, housing two stair cases, and the rest of laminated wood, reaching with its 18 floors the 53 meters high. The main wooden structure was executed at a rate of one floor per week thanks to the use of prefabricated elements (NLT panels, columns, plywood, steel connectors and façade elements). With this building they want to achieve the certification LEED Gold, and they have calculated that they will not emit 2.563 tons of carbon during its construction (equivalent to 490 cars per year).

And in Spain? Here we are also doing the homework, especially in the North, where a family company that responds to the name of Egoin is giving much to talk about, for example, with its last work in Catalonia, which collaborate with the La Borda housing cooperative in the realization of the tallest wooden building in country. Located in Can Batlló the property will house 28 dwellings of three different types (40, 50 and 76 square meters) and a community life due to the idiosyncrasies of the property, which belongs to the municipality of Barcelona and will be assigned over the next 75 years to the cooperative.

So, they conducive the use public and private, articulating this through a central courtyard and the collectivization of some applications (laundry, bath, space for guests, kitchens for large meals). Yet, the most interesting of the project is the great concern about the environmental future, thus, try to generate the minimum possible waste, achieve greater energy efficiency (expect to lower the expectations of the Technical Building Code in almost 50%) or more saving of water, reduce up to 30% the CTE (reusing and debug) . All monitored, as befits the times we live.

The wooden buildings reduce CO2 emissions during the production, due among other things to which trees absorb it, it is a renewable and reusable material, its construction time is scarce and its lower price, and (although you not believe it) an investigation of the University of Cambridge says that wood buildings are more fire-resistant. However, the best of the wood is its appearance, smell and the feeling that makes us in contact with it, something that could be defined as Biophilia. Do we aim to live in wooden towers?

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