Insights > Construction

FSC wood from an FSC forest to an FSC building site.”

Designing with long-term flexibility Because of the way it was put together with CLT and a lightweight steel frame, 6 Orsman Road can be adapted over time and disassembled at the end of its life. “You can get a saw and a screwdriver out and fit stuff to it or cut stuff away from it,” Waugh explains. In fact, half-way through the construction process, the decision was made to change the concept from a regular office building to a co-working space. “We got out our chainsaw, cut a big hole in a slab across seven storeys and then used that floor slab to build a new staircase,” Waugh says. “Designing for long-term flexibility is wonderful. You can start thinking about making demands of our buildings to be used and adapted many decades into the future.”

wooden floor for pipes and electricity ducts, Winkel plans to use a layer of dry ballast. “After 100 years, you can take these pebbles or small stones out, take the pipes out and then you have the raw material – the wood – left over as a pure product,” he explains.

Solving this century’s problems For Winkel, timber is just one part of the equation he’s working to solve: how to design buildings that address today’s societal and environmental problems. SAWA will also be home to 1km of planters, abundant communal spaces where building inhabitants can plant vegetables, shared e-bikes, cars and scooters and a cross ventilation system fed with fresh air from outside. In addition, 50 of its 109 apartments will be affordable for renters. “Wood is not the purpose,” he says. “The purpose is to solve the problems we have this century – less biodiversity, exhaustion of CO2

, loneliness. It’s a medicine against the

“I think the pandemic we’re going through now will bring similar results in terms of a yearning for natural materials, fresh air and health and wellbeing benefits. The paradigm shift we need in architecture is about rethinking what we’re looking for in buildings and it’s going to be simple values like materiality, space and light.” While timber use in architecture is no doubt increasing, there are two main barriers, according to Waugh: perception and profit. “You have a risk-averse system where a lot of people make a lot of money and don’t really want to change, thank you very much,” he says. “They can get people to work on construction sites with jack hammers, cement mixers and grinders, pay them little money and charge a lot for it.” In addition, there’s no urge for innovation from the supply side. “There’s a lack of apartments so everyone wants to take what there is; there’s no urge for innovation,”


It’s an approach of which Robert

Winkel, the founder of Mei Architects and Planners, approves. He is the designer and developer of SAWA, which will be the first fully wooden residential building in Rotterdam. Construction is slated to start in 2021 and, when completed, it will also have the potential to be dismantled. Where most architects would include a concrete layer under the


problems we have now and wood is one part of this cocktail.” Waugh believes that the coronavirus pandemic has the potential to trigger a paradigm shift in building design, like the Spanish Flu did just over 100 years ago. “We came out of that pandemic saved by science, cleanliness, modernity and expertise and fundamentally our architecture was transformed within a generation,” he says.

Winkel remarks. “Things have to be changed at government level, but what really needs to happen is the consumer has to ask for this and say 'we don’t want concrete buildings anymore',” he adds.

Appetite from investors The good news, Waugh says, is that demand is increasing, not from architects, engineers or governments,

but from investors. In 2021, most of his practice’s new projects came directly through investors who wanted visibly sustainable results for their investments. “Whereas developers and contractors have their own way of doing things, investors are saying, ‘this matters to our shareholders’,” he says. “In the commercial market things are changing a bit and office users are saying, ‘the space we inhabit needs to be representative of the ethos of our company’ and that needs to be driven by sustainability.” Punja has seen a similar push. “Investors are greening their investments and passing that pressure onto developers. Developers are also interested because consumers are asking them these questions,” he says. “Having an FSC plaque on your building might not add an extra 10-15% to the price of a flat, but it does make them more attractive to buyers and renters and allows them to tell their sustainability story in a bit more of a fun way.”

It may be early days, and there may be a little bit of wishful thinking in Waugh’s final comment. But he believes now is the time for architects to demonstrate real social agency. “For the first time in a long time, we can demonstrate how useful we are as a profession,” he concludes. Just as doubters ridiculed the construction of the Ingalls Building in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1903, cynicism over timber structures and their structural solidity remains. But travel to East 4th Street and Vine Street in the Cincinnati business district and gaze upwards, and the world’s first concrete skyscraper looms back at you, still capable of weathering storms and the inevitable passing of time.


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41