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square foot office space in Italy. Slowly but surely, other architects have followed suit. Driven by timber’s technical benefits (wooden buildings are lightweight and quick to erect thanks to the potential for off-site prefabrication), environmental benefits (harvested timber is a replenishable material that absorbs and sequesters carbon dioxide over time) and consumer demand (there have never been more studies focused on the emotional benefits of living in more natural environments). In France, any new public construction project financed by the state must contain at least 50% wood or other organic materials. In Germany, firm Mad Arkitekter has been commissioned to design the country’s tallest wooden tower, while Mei Architects and Planners recently designed a fully wooden, 50m-tall residential building in the Netherlands, named SAWA. Even that formidable accomplishment pales in comparison to the current reigning global champion: Voll Arkitekter’s Mjøstårnet building, which rises some 85.4m. Timber experimentation isn’t confined to the continent either. Previously the title of world’s tallest timber structure was held by the 53m-high Brock Commons Tallwood House in Vancouver, a hybrid wood and concrete structure. A leading manufacturer of CLT, New Zealand has ambitious plans for wooden highrises, integrating them into its green agenda. Tokyo, meanwhile, will see a 70-storey block made from 90% wood rise to completion in 2041.

Using the right timber One of Waugh Thistleton’s most high- profile recent timber projects was a


flexible working space for British Land on 6 Orsman Road, London, a hybrid CLT and steel building that can be adapted to the needs of its tenants and demounted at the end of its life. The architect prides himself on only using timber that has been certified by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) or the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which means the forests it comes from are managed to the highest possible standards, taking into account everything from the rights of indigenous communities to the conservation of rare animal and bird species. Anand Punja, the FSC’s regional director for Europe, says the body is actively promoting the benefits of working with timber – and specifically FSC certified timber – to the architecture and construction communities and has been pleased to see interest growing.

“A lot of FSC wood or fibre currently goes into pulp or paper value chains and we’re trying to change that a little to get higher value products out of the forests,” he explains. “If the timber coming out of these forests get valued highly, that forest is valued for being a standing forest. It’s not going to get torn down to make way for a palm oil plantation. Our goal is to figure out where the bottle necks are – whether it’s in supply or demand – in getting

2 1 3

1. SAWA in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. 2. The SAWA building by Mei Architects. 3. 6 Orsman Road, Regent's Canal, UK.


WAX/Periscope/Ed Reeve

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