Mass timber construction in Canada is in the spotlight and emerging as a sustainable building system that offers an opportunity to optimize the value of every tree harvested and to revitalize a declining forest industry, while providing climate mitigation solutions. Little research has been conducted, however, to identify the mass timber research priorities of end users, barriers to adoption and engineering, procurement and construction challenges in Canada. This study helps bridge these gaps. The study also created an interactive, three-dimensional GIS map displaying mass timber projects across North America, as an attempt to offer a helpful tool to practitioners, researchers and students, and fill a gap in existing knowledge sharing. The study findings, based on a web-based survey of mass timber end users, suggest the need for more research on (a) total project cost comparisons with concrete and steel, (b) hybrid systems and (c) mass timber building construction methods and guidelines. The most important barriers for successful adoption are (a) misconceptions about mass timber with respect to fire and building longevity, (b) high and uncertain insurance premiums, (c) higher cost of mass timber products compared to concrete and steel, and (d) resistance to changing from concrete and steel. In terms of challenges: (a) building code compliance and regulations, (b) design permits and approvals, and (c) insufficient design experts in the market are rated by study participants as the most pressing “engineering” challenge. The top procurement challenges are (a) too few manufactures and suppliers, (b) long distance transportation, and (c) supply and demand gaps. The most important construction challenges are (a) inadequate skilled workforce, (b) inadequate specialized subcontractors, and (c) excessive moisture exposure during construction.
DOI link: https://doi.org/10.3929/ethz-b-000405617
With the rise of complex and free-form timber architecture enabled by digital design and fabrication, timber manufacturing companies increasingly need to produce curved components. In this thesis, a novel approach for the manufacturing of curved timber building components is proposed and analyzed. Following biological role models such as the bending of pine cone scales, a smart way to curve wood at large-scale is given by the biomimetic concept of bi-layered laminated wood. This principle enables large programmed material deformations upon controlled moisture content change. The main objectives of this thesis are the in-depth understanding of the mechanics of self-shaping wood bilayers and the up-scaling of the already known principle from the laboratory to the industrial scale in order to enable an application as form-stable curved elements in architecture. Hereby, the main challenges addressed are the accurate prediction of shape-change in terms of the natural variability in wood material parameters, the scale-dependent impact of moisture gradients on mechanical behavior, and the influence of wood-specific time- and moisture-dependent deformation mechanisms such as creep or mechano-sorption in the shaping process. Major impacts of these aspects on the shaping behavior could be demonstrated by the use of continuum-mechanical material models adapted to wood, both in the form of analytical and numerical models. Based on the gained insight, the up-scaling process to industrial manufacturing was successfully made possible. A collaborative project realized in 2019, the 14 m high Urbach tower, is presented as a proof of concept for application and competitiveness of the novel biomimetic method for production of curved mass timber components. Furthermore, next to self-shaping by bending to single-curved components, possibilities and limitations for achieving double-curved structures using wood bilayers in a gridshell configuration are analyzed and discussed.
Sustainability and innovation are key components in the fight against climate change. Mass timber buildings have been gaining popularity due to the renewable nature of timber. Although research comparing mass timber buildings to more mainstream buildings such as steel is still in the early stages and therefore, limited. We are looking to determine the difference between carbon footprints of mass timber and traditional steel and concrete buildings. This is done with the intention of determining the sustainability and practicality of mass timber buildings.
More and more people live in cities. The building industry is responsible for 33% of waste production and is set to increase further to 50% in 2025. The energy efficiency is continuously increased, but the waste production at the end of life of a building is largely ignored. This design proposes a solution in the form of a zero-waste high-rise design. It uses only recyclable or renewable materials. Mass-timber is chosen as the main material as it is not only renewable and easily reusable, it is also a storage of CO2. The design reuses the foundation of existing buildings, and with the lightweight properties of mass-timber, increases the density on the location by building taller. The design is four times taller as the current buildings. To allow for sustainable densification, the design offers public and collective qualities. The building has been designed is such a way to be easily refitted during its life cycle or to be completely disassembled at the end of life.