Mass wood projects are becoming more prevalent in the design and construction industries, which is a sign that mass timber buildings are about to take centre stage.
New mass timber products are becoming more widespread and encouraging builders, designers, and engineers to search for the best applications for mass timber initiatives. A few of the mass timber building products available today include:
- Cross-laminated timber
- Nail-laminated timber
- Glue-laminated timber
- Dowel-laminated timber
As they test the capabilities of these materials, designers are looking to existing mass timber buildings around the world for examples and inspiration.
Canadian and European researchers and architects began experimenting with the design of mass timber buildings in the 1970s. European timber projects have shown that weight matters with structural systems, and mass timber structures weigh up to one-third as much as their concrete counterparts. This fact has made wood construction a viable prospect in places where building height and weight are limited, such as city utilities, subway tunnels, and underground rail yards.
Due to their lighter weight, mass timber buildings are more resilient in seismic zones. They carry less inertia, so the possibility of destructive swaying goes down. This approach was recently applied in the Brock Commons tower, an 18-story college residence designed for the University of British Columbia by Canadian firm Acton Ostry Architects.
The 173-foot-tall tower combines glue-laminated columns, cross-laminated timber floor slabs, dual concrete cores, and steel connectors. The cores help to counteract wind-generated and seismic forces while anchoring the mass timber building in place. It meets structural and fire-safety regulations by utilising a specially designed set of interdependent finishes and building materials.