As the use of ‘mass timber’ grows in tall building construction a new study looks at recently completed, on-going and future projects
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has released an original “Tall Buildings in Numbers” (TBIN) research study entitled Tall Timber: A Global Audit. The rise of “mass timber” – engineered wood products that are just as robust as their concrete and steel counterparts – has resulted in a worldwide wave of research, built projects, and daring speculative proposals.
Yet the pace at which mass timber technology has advanced and timber towers have proliferated has left a gap in their reporting on a worldwide scale. As a result, CTBUH has audited the explosion of proposed, under construction, and completed timber towers, examining their heights, structures, and locations around the world.
The study revealed a number of interesting developments concerning tall timber around the world. The tallest timber tower completed to date is The Treet, a 14-storey tower in Bergen, Norway. However, a 24-storey tower, known as HoHo, is currently under construction in Vienna, Austria and will be the tallest in the world upon completion in 2017, while Paris, France will be home to Baobab, the tallest proposed timber building at 35 stories.
Although Europe is leading the way in tall timber projects, they can be found at various stages of completion across the globe, including the topped-out TallWood House at Brock Commons in Vancouver, Canada; the proposed Adebe Court Tower in Lagos, Nigeria; and the 2013-built Fortè Tower in Melbourne, Australia.
With serious proposals reaching as high as 120m, many are considering the theoretical limits of tall timber. A number of visions have been produced by leading architectural firms to test the durability of the typology at extreme heights. The Oakwood Tower in London, for example, would be a 300m timber tower. At that height, it would be the second-tallest building in the city if built today.
An interactive version of this study is available online, presenting details on the collected project data. Additionally, the study is also included within 2017 Issue II of the CTBUH Journal, which also includes a case study on River Beech Tower, a theoretical 80-story tower proposed for Chicago, United States.
One of the biggest challenges with this research undertaking was the fact that there are numerous claims to the title of “tallest timber building,” which have become increasingly difficult to validate because of the myriad construction approaches used. It was also found that codes and practices are far from uniform, and in many jurisdictions, they prohibit the construction of wooden buildings above a certain height. In light of this, CTBUH will be convening a Tall Timber Workshop on Sunday October 29 in conjunction with the CTBUH 2017 Australia Conference with the following objectives:
- To establish criteria for categorising the wide range of construction approaches to tall timber buildings, for inclusion in the official CTBUH Height Criteria, and ultimate determination of the “World’s Tallest Timber Building” title.
- To develop recommendations for standardized nomenclature and a common understanding of methodologies of tall-timber design and construction.
- To expand the existing CTBUH Tall Timber Working Group into an international committee.
- To ultimately produce a CTBUH Technical Guide on High-Rise Timber Construction.
The workshop will be led by Carsten Hein, Arup, co-chair of the CTBUH Tall Timber Working Group; and Rob Foster, Senior Lecturer, The University of Queensland. Representatives from the projects included in this Tall Buildings in Numbers report and others will be in attendance.