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The seven-storey building is about two-thirds complete — the basic structure and staircases are in place, with plastering and wiring just beginning. But as I walk around, something different slowly reveals itself. The construction site is quiet and clean — it even smells good.
Building sites typically feature wood as the mould to pour the concrete into. But here, the wood is the concrete. We have a timber core, timber walls and timber floor slabs — so we reduce the amount of steel down to a bare minimum. In this wooden building, however, there are relatively few steel sections. Our dependency on concrete and steel to build everything from homes to sports stadiums, comes at a severe environmental cost.
Globally, enough concrete is poured each year to cover the whole of England. Some architects such as Waugh are therefore arguing for — and pressing ahead with — a return to wood as our primary building material.
Wood from managed forestry actually stores carbon as opposed to emitting it: as trees grow, they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. As a rule of thumb, a cubic metre of wood contains around a tonne of CO2 more or less, depending on the species of tree — which is similar to litres of gasoline. Waugh designed this storey development in Dalston, London.
Not only does wood remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than it adds through manufacture, but by replacing carbon-intensive materials such as concrete or steel it doubles its contribution to lowering CO2.
Increasing the use of timber in construction could triple that amount, the report concluded. Cross-laminated timber, or CLT, is the primary material on the construction site Andrew Waugh shows me around in east London. But CLT just looks like ordinary 3m 10ft planks of wood, one inch thick, replete with knot-holes and splinters. The ingenuity is that the planks are made stronger by gluing them in layers of three, with each layer perpendicular to the other.
Having built with CLT for a decade now, Waugh believes it can achieve anything a concrete and steel building can, and more besides. So, they came up with cross-laminated timber. A cubic metre of wood contains around a tonne of CO2 — which is similar to litres of gasoline Credit: Alamy. The planks are bonded together under heat and pressure to fuse that small amount of adhesive using the moisture of the wood.
Many CLT factories in Austria are even powered by renewable biomass using the offcuts, branches and twigs. Some factories produce enough electricity to power the surrounding communities. But for Murray Grove, the entire structure above the first floor slab is comprised of CLT panels, with all walls, floor slabs and lift cores formed from timber, like a honeycomb block.
Recently there have been calls for tree planting on a colossal scale to capture CO2 and curb climate change. However, whilst young trees are efficient and effective carbon sinks, the same is not so true for mature trees. The Earth maintains a balanced carbon cycle — trees along with all other plants and animals grow using carbon, they fall and die, and release that carbon again.
That balance was knocked out of kilter when humans discovered ancient stores of carbon in the form of coal and oil, which had been captured during previous carbon cycles, and began burning them, releasing the resulting CO2 into our atmosphere far faster than the current cycle can deal with.
While young trees absorb carbon dioxide, older plants emit more than they take in Credit: Alamy. Many pine trees in managed forests, such as the European spruce, take roughly 80 years to reach maturity, being net absorbers of carbon during those years of growth — but once they reach maturity, they shed roughly as much carbon through the decomposition of needles and fallen branches as they absorb. As was the case in Austria in the s, plummeting demand for paper and wood saw huge swathes of managed forests globally fall into disuse.
Rather than return to pristine wilderness, these monocrops cover forest floors in acidic pine needles and dead branches. Canada's great forests for example have actually emitted more carbon than they absorb since , thanks to mature trees no longer being actively felled. Arguably, the best form of carbon sequestration is to chop down trees: to restore our sustainable, managed forests, and use the resulting wood as a building material.
Managed forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council FSC typically plant two to three trees for every tree felled — meaning the more demand there is for wood, the greater the growth in both forest cover and CO2-hungry young trees. Rewilding and protecting virgin forests is essential.
But unmanaged monocrops help no-one, and floors full of dry pine needles are also the primary cause of wildfires — something that North America and many parts of the world experience on a now annual basis.
Managed harvesting greatly reduces that risk. These benefits have not been lost on the US authorities. Unmanaged woodlands are at greater risk of forest fires Credit: Alamy. The market seems to agree. The Timber Innovation Act also included provisions for research and development into mass timber.
Structures using wooden materials also tend to be quicker and easier to build, therefore reducing labour costs, transport fuel and on-site energy use. To deliver all the CLT, we needed just 92 deliveries. Other countries are turning to timber, too. It begins with a trickle of orders from Austria and Scandinavia.
Data suggests that 1, cubic metres of CLT equates to around harvested trees; factories processing 50, cubic metres are therefore trapping the sequestered carbon of 25, trees per year. There are even advantages that make the material particularly attractive to countries like Japan, since it has been found to perform well in earthquake tests.
They found that it could withstand shaking at the level of the earthquake in Kobe, Japan, which destroyed more than 50, buildings. Counterintuitively, CLT also performs well in fires. It is designed to withstand heats of up to C before it begins to char — the charring on the outside then acts as a protective layer for the structural density of the wood behind it.
By contrast, at similar temperatures concrete can spall and crack , and steel loses its strength. Not everyone believes that the future is CLT, however. It might happen locally with some small schemes. It is an exceptionally good material because of its functionality and its robustness. Carbon only remains trapped in the wood for as long as the building remains standing or is reused in another building — if it rots or is burned for energy, then all the stored carbon is released.
Despite these issues, Waugh remains ambitious. The average lifetime of a building is years — that, he believes, is more than enough time for architects and engineers to work out the re-use and recycling issues. Turning it into biochar could be one possibility.
Fundamentally he — along with a growing group of international architects — is convinced that mass adoption of CLT is an important weapon in the fight against climate change. Everybody should be building with this. I return to my original question: could we realistically return to wood as our primary building material?
In architecture you always go back to the sketch: the sketch is climate change. Tim Smedley is a sustainability writer, based in the UK.
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The advantages that steel offers to the construction sector have long been recognised by designers and specifiers. The versatility of steel gives architects the freedom to achieve their most ambitious visions. Structural steel is an essential component of most stadia , shopping centres and commercial developments ; steel cladding systems adorn iconic, landmark structures worldwide. Steel is one of the most sustainable construction materials.
The erection of structural steelwork consists of the assembly of steel components into a frame on site. The processes involve lifting and placing components into position, then connecting them together. Generally this is achieved through bolting but sometimes site welding is used. The assembled frame needs to be aligned before bolting up is completed, and the structure handed over to the principal contractor. Often the ability to complete these processes safely, quickly and economically is influenced significantly by early decisions made during design long before erection commences.
The seven-storey building is about two-thirds complete — the basic structure and staircases are in place, with plastering and wiring just beginning. But as I walk around, something different slowly reveals itself. The construction site is quiet and clean — it even smells good. Building sites typically feature wood as the mould to pour the concrete into. But here, the wood is the concrete. We have a timber core, timber walls and timber floor slabs — so we reduce the amount of steel down to a bare minimum. In this wooden building, however, there are relatively few steel sections.
Solid timber is natural, beautiful and cozy
Leading expertise in the construction of steel bridges, from fabrication to installation. Our automated production processes, appropriate, functional facilities and tonne lifting capacity ensure efficient fabrication of large bridge elements. Finished structures are surface treated at the factory in line with the standards ISO and EN Our surface treatment uses steel grit blasting, wet painting and zinc spray galvanizing. Coating systems approved by the relevant authorities are used for the surface treatment of bridges.
Most scurry past the Field Building without considering its significance—or that of the historic building demolished in on the same site: the Home Insurance Building. Built in , it was the first tall building erected on a frame made of structural steel—a light, affordable, and durable material that allowed structures to be built taller, stronger, and faster than those made of wood or stone. More than years later, steel and steel frame remain kings in skyscraper construction. But innovations in composite carbon-fiber materials and robotic-fabrication techniques could mean a new despot will soon unseat them.
All other materials are measured against the standard of structural steel and structural steel is still the material of choice. These benefits include:. Structural steel enhances construction productivity because of its shop fabrication while maintaining tight construction tolerances. Field placed material will always lag behind
If your company were to commission a small, one-story office building, one with a capacity of less than people, the architect would have quite a few material options. Concrete, brick, and wood are commonly used for low-rise buildings. In addition to bearing loads, these materials lend quite a bit of versatility to construction plans. Where concrete has uncomplicated, consistent characteristics, the others add beauty and complexity in that they offer a variety of textures and colors. However, if your company were a professional educational organization serving the metal fabrication industry, you would put quite a bit of emphasis on steel.
Construction project showcases best of metal fabrication
From detailing foundations to designing home theaters, home offices, and other specialty rooms, Architectural Graphic Standards for Residential Construction is a resource that's as efficient as it is comprehensive. You'll find design details that incorporate best construction practices as well as guidelines for state-of-the-art wiring, heating, and cooling systems. In step with current practices, this volume includes the latest guidelines for:. The AIA offers continuing education, conferences, and professional information to its membership and their clients. Founded in , the AIA celebrated its th anniversary in Architectural Graphic Standards for Residential Construction is an all-new visual guide devoted exclusively to construction standards of residential structures.
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The VP Rigid Frame is the ideal system when economical, column-free interior space is desired. All these economical clear-span structures permit unsurpassed flexibility in use of interior space. Where interior support columns are acceptable, as in vast production or storage areas, VP's Continuous Beam:. If your building plans call for unobstructed, column-free interior space, VP's open web Truss Beam frame offers long, clear spans, along with the advantages of open web rafters. The open web design of VP's Continuous Truss frames offers construction cost savings through optimal material use and reduction of required building heights.
Created to make the multi-unit residential construction industry more efficient, Prescient uses the power of technology to link the discrete disciplines of architectural design, engineering, manufacturing and assembly. Through its proprietary digital thread, Prescient is reducing time, costs and risks across the entire development, construction and operating value chain. Changes the economics of the deal by allowing buildings to be taller without incurring the high cost and schedule penalties of concrete. The Prescient platform is ideally suited for multi-unit buildings up to feet tall. Their technology and digital design is able to build housing much cheaper and much faster and much more efficiently. No matter what all the other team members have done up front, when we get the baton, we have to finish on time and within budget. Having Prescient on the team from day one is one of the primary reasons we always finish in first place.
Building projects evolve with binderholz solid timber products and construction solutions, which all standard requirements in terms of structural physics and fire protection. Solid wood buildings retain their value, are stable and meet the most stringent demands on quality, cost-effectiveness and ecological sustainability. In order to guarantee this, all binderholz construction solutions are developed with practicality in mind.