Reaching for the skies20 April 2016
You know that times are changing when people start talking seriously about building city skyscrapers using wood.
No-one would have thought seriously about doing this in the past, with high-rise being the domain solely of steel and concrete.
But a succession of high-rise (around ten storeys) timber apartment buildings is now sparking even greater imagination among researchers, architects and engineers.
Researchers from Cambridge University, together with architects and engineers have presented conceptual plans for an 80-storey 300m high timber building to London Mayor Boris Johnson.
This is a different league to the world’s current highest timber building – a 14-storey apartment block in Norway.
The building, which incredibly would not feature a concrete core or steel frame (though some steel is envisaged), would be second in height only to The Shard and would utilise large volumes of glulam and cross-laminated timber.
The experts clearly think these sorts of structures can be built using wood and it will be interesting to watch how long it will take for them to get to a serious planning stage and for financial backers to come forward and show their support.
But as engineer Simon Smith, of Smith and Wallwork, says - it seems only a matter of time until the first timber skyscraper is built.
Elsewhere in this issue, we focus on Finland for our market update, where we learn that fluctuating exchange rates are still causing uncertainty. But Finland’s timber export volumes are nearly back to record volumes, with China being an increasingly important buyer.
We also feature panel products, with the Wood Panel Industries Federation citing expected housebuilding growth over the next few years as a reason to be optimistic.
More OSB capacity is coming on stream as a result, notably at SmartPly and Norbord. We interview Norbord Europe MD Karl Morris about the expansion of the company’s Inverness mill.
And we also review the recent Ecobuild show, which though smaller felt busier than last year, with timber research body TRADA very happy with its attendance.
Despite timber sector involvement being less than a few years back, wood is still a high profile material at the event and Ecobuild seems to be adjusting to the fact that eco-buiding is now mainstream.
This issue sees the start of a new monthly Talking Timber article by the Wood Technology Society which will cover a wide range of issues, including technical subjects. Andrew True kicks thing off tackling the thorny subject of pricing.