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Technical Frame

Wenlock Road’s hybrid structure and Dalston Lane’s pure CLT structure, certainly believes that both methods have merit. “When we design we are very pragmatic. We want to find the most appropriate, sustainable and economic solution. If that means introducing some steel, then we will look into that,” he says. Although a hybrid negatively impacts on some of the benefits of using CLT, in exchange you get more flexibility, variety, and the potential for timber buildings to go higher than ever before. “With the use of timber in hybrid form we could start to look at 20, 30 or even 40 storey structures,” he says (see box, right).

But not everyone shares Smith’s mix-and-match philosophy. Andrew Waugh, director at Waugh Thistleton Architects, a long time proponent of CLT, believes that only pure CLT-framed structures can realise the full benefits of the material. A pure CLT residential development, also for Regal Homes, designed by Waugh has started on site on Dalston Lane, again in Hackney. It has a world-beating 3,852cu m of CLT in its frame, and will also be the UK’s tallest CLT structure when completed. Waugh argues: “We should avoid using

steel and concrete and use timber wherever it is feasible. It has a low carbon footprint, is replenishable and stores carbon.” He also warns that hybrid structures can “undermine a number of other benefits of CLT, such as airtightness, and the lack of differential movement – timber is fast and straightforward, so introducing other materials and trades loses that advantage”. He accepts, however, that hybrids have a place – but sees it as a temporary one. “There are times when steel and concrete are useful and at the moment hybrids work within current regulations and knowledge bases,” he says, viewing hybrids as only an intermediary step until the industry builds a fuller understanding of timber construction. “To get the full benefits of CLT for mass housing, pure CLT is the only solution,” he says. Meanwhile Craig Liddell, specification manager at B&K Structures, the specialist contractor that has designed and built both

New level of interest Whether they opt for hybrid or pure, Liddell is certain that we will find major housebuilders looking more seriously at CLT in the near future. “The height and scale of these two projects in Hackney will generate a new level of interest in CLT, and I expect that 2015 will be a record year for the amount of CLT used in the UK,” he says. Outside its Hackney heartland, CLT is gaining ground in south London, with Lend Lease leading the way. The developer built the current world’s tallest CLT building in Melbourne, Australia, in 2012 and is now working on several CLT schemes in London. In Battersea, at Cobalt Place, it is delivering 104 homes designed by AHMM, while 55 homes at Victoria Drive, also in the London Borough of Wandsworth, are also in the pipeline. CLT is a major part of the £1.5bn

development at Elephant & Castle, with Lend Lease seeking to use the material wherever it is appropriate. “Going forward we want to look to build more blocks from CLT, as we recognise the material provides great benefits,” says Jon Kirkpatrick, head of sustainability at Lend Lease. “We consider CLT for all appropriate projects, as it is really important that we look at all types of technology, to get buildings up quicker and safer.” As CLT is more widely adopted, it looks

set to become part of the industry’s mainstream operations. And while a pure CLT building may be best suited to low to medium rise mass housing, we can look forward to hybrid structures pushing timber’s geometric and height boundaries ever further. CM

Timber highlights so far…

Murray Grove, Hackney Also known as the Stadthaus, this nine-storey tower in Hackney (right), designed by Waugh Thistleton Architects, was the tallest modern timber structure in the world when it was completed in 2008.

Forté, Melbourne Designed and built by Lend Lease, the 10-storey apartment block in Melbourne, Australia, is currently the world’s tallest pure CLT structure.

Wood Innovation and Design Center, British Columbia Completed last year, the eight-storey hybrid of glulam columns and beams with CLT walls in Prince George, Canada, is currently North America’s tallest timber building.

Bridport House, Hackney This 41-unit, eight-storey social housing block designed by Karakusevic Carson Architects was the largest solid timber building in the UK when it completed in 2011.

G3 Shopping Resort, Vienna One of Europe’s largest timber buildings, the 500m long shopping centre (right), designed by Austrian architect ATP, is covered by a 20,000sq m contoured roof made from glulam beams and CLT.

…and six more to come

HSB Landmark Project, Stockholm The proposed 34-storey timber skyscraper (right), with pillars and beams of solid wood, is to complete by 2023 to celebrate housing co-operative HSB’s 100 anniversary.

Dalston Lane, Hackney This 121-unit residential block will be the largest CLT building in the world when it completes next year.

The Tree, Bergen A hybrid of glulam columns and CLT, this 14-storey apartment block is now on site in Bergen, Norway.

Tallwood tower, Vancouver As part of a feasibility study titled The Case for Tall Wood Buildings, Michael Green Architects proposed a 30-storey timber tower.

HoHo, Vienna Plans are mooted for a 25-storey wooden skyscraper in Vienna, Austria (right). Architect Rüdiger Lainer & Partner says the structure of the towers would be 70% timber.

Tall tower competition, US Last October the US Department of Agriculture launched an ideas competition to design a tall wooden building with a $2 million prize. The winner will be announced this year.


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