Future – Could wooden buildings be a solution to climate change?
Great article on the use of wood (CLT) for building as a way to sequester carbon?
I’m standing in a seemingly ordinary construction site of an unremarkable office block in east London. 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. And there’s an awful lot of wood. Building sites typically feature wood as the mould to pour the concrete into. But here, the wood is the concrete.
“Because a timber building weighs 20% of a concrete building, the gravitational load is vastly reduced,” enthuses Andrew Waugh, the architect, who shows me around. “That means we need minimal foundations, we don’t need massive amounts of concrete in the ground. We have a timber core, timber walls and timber floor slabs – so we reduce the amount of steel down to a bare minimum.” Steel is typically used to form the main internal supports or to reinforce concrete in most large modern buildings. In this wooden building, however, there are relatively few steel sections. Those that remain are bolted together like a Meccano set, to be easily taken apart at the end of (or during) the building’s life. “If you wanted to put a staircase right here,” says Waugh, pointing to the ceiling, “you unscrew that [steel] beam there, get a chainsaw and cut a hole in the timber [floor].”