Why Manufacturers Are Using Timber For High-Rise Buildings

If you are working in the UK construction industry, then you will no doubt be aware of how many people will look at the possibility of building their home out of timber. Manufacturers have used the material for its many positives, from its speed and efficiency in building to its thermal properties and cost.

It is common for houses to use timber frames, though many buildings in the US could be using the material in the long term. According to Curbed, Oregon has become the first state in the country to legalise the development of mass timber high-rises. Builders are now able to apply for special permission in the state to construct timber buildings that are over six storeys.

However, Oregon has categorised construction of these buildings into three separate areas of classification. The highest buildings are 18 storeys (270 ft), which is followed up with 12 storeys (180 ft) and nine storeys (85 ft). You might be wondering why it has been divided into three areas, but that is mainly due to different requirements that need to be met in construction.

For example, 18 storeys need to have the exposed areas of timber covered, as well as being able to successfully pass a three-hour fire-resistance rating. However, it is not the only state in the US looking at the possibility of how timber can be used in different structures. In the city of Des Moines, Iowa, the development of a 66,800-sf four-storey building is underway, Building Design+Construction reports.

Once it is completed, it will become North America’s largest dowel laminated timber (DLT) project. Construction workers are using DLT panels that are made from stacked softwood lumber boards, which are friction fitted together using hardwood dowels. The project is expected to reach completion in spring 2019.

It is not only high-rise buildings that US manufacturers are looking at with timber in mind. According to Dezeen, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has put forward a design for a community centre built from timber.

John Klein, who is the founder of John Klein Design, has been leading MIT students for the construction of the Longhouse, which is a 40-ft structure made from laminated veneer lumber. You will find that the structure can withstand significant levels of stress, as well as its 140 ft (43 metres) long and 50 ft (15 metres) wide space not requiring any internal support inside the building.

Mr Klein, who is a research scientist in the architecture department at MIT, commented: “At heights above six stories, mass-timber technologies have begun to compete economically with concrete and steel building solutions.

“Mass timber buildings offer a promising solution for housing and carbon reduction goals, in addition to providing a sustainable solution for cities to address urban sprawl.”

If you are a British manufacturer, then you will not want to disregard how timber is being used in ways to change the landscape of the US construction industry. In fact, it is the best time to examine how the material could be used in the UK ahead of any sudden changes that could be introduced in the foreseeable future.