With climate change making headlines, it is no wonder that timber is taking a front seat as we slowly venture into the dawn of the timber age. Even though it is one of the oldest materials in construction, architects are celebrating its revival in the 21st century thanks to its sustainability.
Treated and industrially dried varieties of wood such as pine, larch and spruce are far stronger and considerably more stable than regular types. Increased fire resistance and durability are making timber the ideal material for building bigger and higher. In 2017, students from the University of British Columbia will be accommodated in Brock Commons, which has been structured with cross laminated timber and has 18 stories. Prefabricated parts were joined on site, and constructions was finished four months earlier than an equivalent steel-concrete building would have taken. Similar projects are popping up all over European cities right now.
Sustainability has become the standard
Concrete and steel are taking a knock due to their sizable footprint and great demand on energy during production. Now seems to be the ideal time for any timber frame construction company to reinvent wood. The aim is to find innovative ways of making wood from sustainable forests more fire-resistant and stronger.
The challenge facing timber construction
Very clear guidelines have been set out for fire safety in timber buildings by http://eurocodes.jrc.ec.europa.eu/doc/Fire_Timber_Ch_5-7.pdf. Although existing fireproofing methods are available, governments are hesitant to authorise bigger timber buildings because of combustion concerns.
It has been a long time since timber houses were exclusively for use in the forest. Companies such as http://www.qtfhomes.co.uk/ are using novel ways of bringing timber into our suburbs. Many urban projects are systems in which engineered timber is used alongside traditional building materials. This hybrid system somehow makes the idea of using timber a bit more palatable to those that have their doubts about building exclusively with timber.
Not only is a timber building pleasing to the eye, but it also gets constructed in a shorter period of time and the materials are delivered in fewer trips to the site. The working environment is much nicer for the workers, and the end product is planet friendly. The timber era could offer many more innovations if we only give it a chance.