Hardwood Cross Laminated Timber - An Inspiration for Architects

The newest innovation in mass timber is Hardwood Cross Laminated Timber. It is slowly capturing the material trends of 2017. Hardwood CLT could become the defining building material of the 21st century with architects getting inspirational ideas of building new structures using CLT hardwood.

The newest innovation in mass timber is Hardwood Cross Laminated Timber. It is slowly capturing the material trends of 2017. Hardwood CLT could become the defining building material of the 21st century with architects getting inspirational ideas of building new structures using CLT hardwood.

Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) is a large-scale, prefabricated, solid engineered wood panel. It’s not just lightweight but is also very strong, having superior acoustic, fire, seismic, and thermal performance. As compared to other building materials CLT is easy to install and reduces construction time, generating almost no waste onsite. It offers design flexibility and low environmental impacts. These reasons make Cross- Laminated Timber (CLT) highly advantageous alternative to conventional materials like concrete, masonry, or steel, especially in multi-family and commercial construction.

CLT is commonly used for long spans in walls, floors, and roofs. The advent of engineered flooring, for example, revolutionised the market for real wood flooring and expanded consumption by developers, retailers, installers and ‘DIYs’.

Lighter buildings require less material and embodied energy in foundations, which is now a key element. As conventional buildings are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in their construction and operation. So the benefit of carbon sequestration of wood in CLT has finally got through.

Adding to that the renewability and sustainability of wood, as well as the avoidance of drilling and mining and the tide is turning. We can expect more CLT in high and low rise buildings in which the door, windows and service apertures can be designed into the prefab panels and columns, where only the lift shaft will require energyconsuming concrete in the future.

Hardwood Cross-Laminated Timber

Lighter buildings require less material and embodied energy in foundations, which is now a key element. As conventional buildings are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in their construction and operation. So the benefit of carbon sequestration of wood in CLT has finally got through.

Recent examples of CLT that have made visual impact were the eye-catching ‘Endless Staircase’ and the ‘SMILE’ in London both in American Tulipwood launched by the
American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) to show that there is still some way to go. ‘The Smile’, an urban installation showcases the structural and spatial potential of
cross-laminated timber (CLT) using American tulipwood.

“The Smile is a huge curved hollow tube made of crosslaminated tulipwood. It touches the ground at one point, like a wheel. Entering The Smile through an opening where the curved form meets the ground, the visitor can walk from end to end of the 34-meter-long tube to discover a new kind of space that gradually rises toward light. All four sides of The Smile’s interior are made of the same beautiful hardwood panels as the structure. It offers a complete sensory experience of color, texture, scent and sound. The Smile’s two open ends will illuminate the funnel-like interior space and act as balconies to the city,” said Alison Brooks.

Architecture Design

IKD, architectural firm has recently designed CLT installation with Indiana Hardwood in Indiana. The two architects Yugon Kim and Tomomi Itakura’s design for Conversation Plinth take inspiration from the conversation pit in the Miller House and the plinths that elevate the landmarks immediately surrounding the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library. Encircling the Moore sculpture on the eastern half of the site, large shifting timber discs compose a series of plinths that rise upward towards the west and encourage dynamic circulation around the sculpture, allowing the plaza to be experienced in new ways — even by night, thanks to dramatic lighting. IKD is collaborating with cross-laminated timber (CLT) specialists to develop CLT made from Indiana hardwood by-products, potentially revolutionizing an industry that currently uses softwoods.

CLT technology is not the end, for now innovation must come in fixings, safe adhesives and improved finishes, especially where exposure to inclement climate may be a factor. But as ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ these related products will surely follow the inevitable growth of CLT.

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