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7 Buildings That Use Timber As An Important Role In Their Design

Izzulhaq Alfaiz · May 17th, 2023
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Wood is the oldest building material that is still being used today. Along with the times, wood evolves and is developed according to its potential and weaknesses to compete with other more modern materials. In its development, several architects and designers have proven the development of wood as support or got a leading role in the design. Here are some buildings that use wood as the main material in their design


Sara Kulturhus Center by White Arkitekter

Sara Kulturhus Centre, photo by Åke Eson Lindman

Sara Kulturhus Centre, photo by Åke Eson Lindman

Standing 72.8 meters tall in the Swedish city of Skellefteå, this 20-story mass timber building is one of the tallest mass timber buildings in the world after Ascent and Mjøstårnet. The building was designed to carry the city's long tradition of making wooden buildings "into a new era." The use of wood aims to demonstrate the potential of wood as a structural material that can reduce dependence on concrete, speed up construction, and reduce the carbon footprint of architecture by using structures built almost entirely of glued-laminated timber (glulam) and cross-laminated timber (CLT).

Sara Kulturhus Center was designed with a hybrid concept to optimize materials, such as frames made of wood and steel used to create large open porches and reduce the number of structural columns. In addition, wood is combined with concrete, as in the top three floors of the building, to reduce the effects of wind and lateral movement. This also makes the wooden handle withstand the pressure and strain of the steel and resist the tensile force.

All wood used in the building is sourced from the Skellefteå forest, with prefabricated elements produced at Västerbotten and Renholmen in Sweden. This bulk wood is also coated with a layer of fire retardant to prevent the risk of rapid fire spread. As a result, wood is the only renewable and carbon-free building material currently Bulk wood is a sustainable alternative that provides a unique opportunity to create great architecture that stands the test of time.


Ascent by Korb + Associates Architects

Ascent, photo source by Korb+ AssociatesAscent, photo source by Korb+ Associates

Designed by Korb + Associates Architects (KA), the skyscraper was built in just under two years. Ascent is one of the tallest wooden buildings in the world, with a total height of 86.6 meters this building functions as a retail store and apartment with 25 floors. This building has a structure made almost entirely of cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glued-laminated timber (glulam), except for the base, elevator, and stairs. When completed in 2022, the development team says it has optimized the use of wood so that the wood used in the tower will be replaced by natural growth in North American forests.

In addition, in this design, the design team worked with experts to make this building safe and become a model in the future, this is the design team's commitment to designing this building. Regarding security and safety, Ascent has a CLT floor plate with a two-hour rating component that can burn for two hours without losing structural integrity; the team also optimized the column to achieve a three-hour fire rating, which is the standard from the city. 


FLORA Observatory by IAAC

observatorio flora, Photo by Adrià Goula

Flora observatorio, Photo by Adrià Goula

FLORA is a state-of-the-art ecological observatory built in the Collserola Natural Park (Barcelona) and developed by a team of students and researchers from the "Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings and Biocities" (MAEBB). The building is a scientific research facility built with wood from the surrounding sustainable forest management, allowing a researcher to live and work in the forest canopy.

Over 8.5 meters tall, it is cut down and processed from seventy trees to create cross-laminated timber panels, laminated beams, and solid wood elements. From construction to its final use, the FLORA project is based on the philosophy of "kilometer zero." The CLT core rests on four glued laminated wooden pillars measuring 30 x 30 cm. The bridge is made of glued laminated wood; The longest is about 12 meters long. All these components are manufactured and assembled individually by crane in an intricate installation sequence. The CLT structure is protected by two layers of natural cork panels that provide thermal and acoustic insulation.


Tottori Takahama Cafe by Kengo Kuma &; Associates

tottori takahama cafe, Photo by Kawasumi-Kobayashi Kenji Photograph OfficeTottori takahama cafe, Photo by Kawasumi-Kobayashi Kenji Photograph Office

Kengo Kuma & Associates designed an observatory/café overlooking the Tottori Sand Dunes, using wood as a hybrid cross-laminated timber and reinforced concrete structure. Envisioned as a "staircase to the sky," the cross-laminated wood exterior provides a warm texture that blends with the surrounding dunes.

As a tribute to Tottori , famous for its folk craft culture ("Mingei"), the interior elements of Tottori Takahama Café incorporate local craftsmanship. The chairs are designed with cross-laminated wood, while the chandeliers are made of Washi paper sprinkled with local sand. The bathroom sink is made by Nakai-gama, Tottori Mingei's pottery workshop, which uses a beautiful combination of green and black glass.


BTR House by DeDal architectes

BTR House, Photo by Stijn BollaertBTR House, Photo by Stijn Bollaert

DeDal architects designed the BTR House with wooden structure on construction, rear façade, and most front façade consisting of curtain façade and Red Cedar wood cladding. The material's color is intended to evolve in color variations that will blend with the color of other house facades. This series of levels and space openings are also visible on the façade, and the materials were chosen to take on the expression of a wood-frame construction structure. Seeking integration with existing buildings, BTR House's new volumetry plays on misalignment differences and creates creases on the front façade that compensate for the offset depth and cornice level alignment.


Columba Tree House by Madeiguincho

columba tree house, Photo by João Carranca

Columba tree house, Photo by João Carranca

The Columba Tree House project was designed by Madeiguincho, who aimed not only to honor the character of these amazing creatures by positioning our new buildings among them but also to compliment them with different visual situations. From a distance, the house has a peculiar aspect, a suspended rectangular volume made with Japanese Cedar bricks with a "crown" on top made of a sheet metal roof with a trapezoidal volume of cork on top. Going up the stairs is a hanging balcony with a beautiful view of the Pine Tree, which also stands the house's main entrance on the cork plate wall. Through the same path that visitors climb these stairs, there is also a slope of sheet metal that shows the exit.


Laizhou Bar by RooMoo Design Studio

Laizhou bar, Photo by Wen StudioLaizhou bar, Photo by Wen Studio

Following the company's commitment of "born from nature, walking with nature," it has become the first group company in China to practice the concept of net zero emission green and make carbon neutrality its long-term goal. The overall space planning of Laizhou Bar consists of a whiskey tasting area, VIP room, bar area, kitchen, bathroom, and outdoor seating area. Regarding the whole bar, it is necessary to consider the actual needs of consumers and show the brand spirit that can echo Laizhou Distillery.

The design team used approximately 6,000 pieces of scrap wood barrels dismantled from the distillery's whiskey barrels to assemble the interior from the outside to the tasting area, entrance, indoors, to the bar area in the back area to form a coherent spatial visual experience of flow. The dome structure formed by pieces of wooden barrels on the upper surface highlights a particular function that is the center of the space. In addition, the lighting design reinforces the unique flow of natural time extension at night. Finally, based on its flowing shape, unique traces of wooden structures bring a unique sense of history into the space.


Featured · Materiality · 7x7|