Taller Than 10 Storeys? Yes we Wood

Advances in building technology, an abundance of timber and construction inclusion in the National Building Code have seen an increased interest by Canadian builders in using wood for taller buildings.

Cameron McCartney, research officer at the National Research Council (NRC) and leader of its Mid-rise Wood Buildings research program notes that wood has become more desirable because it’s both renewable and lightweight.

The NRC is conducting extensive research on fire safety, acoustics and building envelope performance in order to provide owners and builders with more code-compliant options for wood buildings.

Its short-term objectives are the evaluation of wood structural elements in mid-rise buildings of five to six storeys to inform development of the National Building Code.

“We also need to limit probability that combustible construction materials will be involved in a fire,” says McCartney. “Can wood structural elements meet the same code requirements as noncombustible structural elements?”

The NRC has been testing the effectiveness of various methods to delay ignition. For example, encasing wood structural elements in type X gypsum board, cement board or gypsum concrete.

Test results showed that encapsulation: limits involvement of wood structure in fire; limits contribution of wood structure to fire growth; and limits/delays fire spread to adjacent apartments and storeys.

The NRC’s long-term objectives include re-evaluating height and area constraints and types of construction to develop further performance-based requirements.

It will also study wood demonstration projects of 10 storeys or taller. At UBC, an 18-storey wooden student residence is set to open in late 2017. Origine, a 13-storey Quebec City project featuring cross-laminated timber and glulam construction, will also be in its crosshairs.

Not to be outdone, but outside NRC’s purview, Michael Green Architecture of Vancouver and DVVD of Paris have partnered with REI France developments to propose Baobab — a 35-storey structure that, if built in Paris, would become the tallest wood building in the world

“There’s no doubt that Canadian owners and builders want to use wood to build taller,” says McCartney.

This article was written by Peter Kenter and published on Daily Commercial News. Republished with permission.

Interest(s): Architecture, Construction, Design, Engineering Date: December 16, 2015