FPInnovations initiated this project to demonstrate the ability of wood exit stairs in mid-rise buildings to perform adequately in a fire when NBCC requirements are followed, with the intent of changing perceptions of the fire safety of wood construction. The objective of this research is to investigate further the fire safety afforded by exit stair shafts of combustible construction, with the ultimate objective of better consistency between the provincial and national building codes with respect to fire requirements for exit stair shafts in mid-rise wood-frame construction.
FPInnovations conducted a research project to study the construction of mid-rise wood exit shafts in Ontario and Québec. The scope of the project included an investigation into the concerns that have been raised in regards to the use of wood exits in mid-rise buildings, an analysis of recent Canadian fire statistics in residential multi-family structures, and a fire demonstration of a mass timber wall and supported light-frame floor. This report describes the fire demonstration completed as part of this project; this report acts as a supplement to the full project report.
The innovation in tall mass-timber buildings is illustrated by the Brock Commons student residence at the University of British Columbia also known as the UBC Tall Wood Building. It is amongst the world’s tallest timber hybrid building with 18 stories and 53 meters’ height. The building has 17 stories of mass-timber superstructure resting on a concrete podium with two concrete cores that act as a lateral force resisting system for earthquake and wind forces. Construction of the mass-timber superstructure took ten weeks whereas the concrete cores were built in fourteen weeks. There could have been a substantial reduction in the project timeline leading to cost savings, as well as a further reduction of environmental footprint if mass-timber had been used for the cores. The objective of this work was to evaluate the possibility to design the UBC Tall Wood Building using mass-timber cores. A validated numerical model was used to study the feasibility of replacing the concrete cores by cores made of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT). The results presented herein show that, with adjustments in the configuration, the structure can meet the seismic performance criteria as per the Canadian code with CLT cores.
In this thesis, the technical feasibility of a super tall hybrid wood-concrete building was evaluated and its wind-induced dynamic behaviour was optimized. To this end a 300m tall building of timber and concrete was designed for construction in the city-centre of Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Due to the absence of seismic activity in the area, wind loading was identified as the governing parameter for lateral stability design. The structural design was therefore optimized to satisfy serviceability criteria for lateral drift and occupant comfort. Based on these requirements, the structure was designed as a reinforced concrete core surrounded by a glued-laminated timber (GLT) frame and floor slabs consisting of a cross-laminated timber (CLT) panel with a thin concrete top layer. Lateral stability was ensured by an outrigger/belt-truss system at three levels, resulting in a significant increase of the global stiffness in the structure, and in a reduction of the maximum lateral inter-storey drift by a factor two.
The UBC Brock Commons building in Vancouver, which comprises of 18 stories and stands 53 m in height, was at the time of completion in 2016 the world’s tallest hybrid wood-based building. The building’s 17 stories of mass-timber superstructure, carrying all gravity loads, rest on a concrete podium with two concrete cores that act as both the wind and seismic lateral load-resisting systems. Whereas the construction of the concrete cores took fourteen weeks in time, the mass-timber superstructure took only ten weeks from initiation to completion. A substantial reduction in the project timeline could have been achieved if mass-timber had been used for the cores, leading to a further reduction of the building’s environmental footprint and potential cost savings. The objective of this research was to evaluate the possibility of designing the UBC Brock Commons building using mass-timber cores. The results from a validated numerical structural model indicate that applying a series of structural adjustments, that is, configuration and thickness of cores, solutions with mass-timber cores can meet the seismic and wind performance criteria as per the current National Building Code of Canada. Specifically, the findings suggest the adoption of laminated-veneer lumber cores with supplementary ‘C-shaped’ walls to reduce torsion and optimize section’s mechanical properties. Furthermore, a life cycle analysis showed the environmental benefit of these all-wood solutions.
The consortium of Nordic Wood Structures, EBC and Yvan Blouin Architect are designing a 13- storey residential building using a mass timber structure. The project, named "Origine" is proposed to be located in the eco-neighbourhood of Pointe-aux- Lièvres in Quebec City and to start construction in spring 2015. The mass timber structure would be composed primarily of glue-laminated timber and crosslaminated timber (CLT). The cross-laminated timber consists of at least three orthogonally bonded layers of solid-sawn lumber that are laminated by gluing of longitudinal and transverse layers with structural adhesives to form a solid rectangular-shaped, straight and plane timber intended for floor, roof or wall applications. The National Research Council Canada (NRC) was requested to assist in the demonstration of an alternative solution to noncombustible construction as prescribed in the Québec Construction Code  and the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) . Three series of fire tests were conducted at NRC to investigate: the fire endurance (fire resistance) of CLT floor and wall assemblies , the fire performance of a CLT exterior wall assembly , and the fire demonstration of a CLT stair/elevator shaft for the proposed building. This report provides the description and results of the fire demonstration for the CLT stair/elevator shaft. This fire demonstration was funded by the Government of Quebec’s Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs through FPInnovations.
A full-scale demonstration fire was conducted at National Research Council Canada (NRCC) to show that a 2-hr non-standard severe design fire in an apartment would have little or no effect on an adjacent elevator or stair shaft. The test was performed to support the approval of an alternative solution for a deemed-to-satisfy 2-hr noncombustible construction assembly, intended for the construction of a tall wood building in Quebec City (Canada). Throughout the duration of the fire no impact was observed in the CLT shaft: there was no evidence of temperature rise and no apparent smoke leakage. This suggests there was little to no effect of the design fire on the structure of the CLT shaft itself.
A full-scale demonstration dire was conducted at National Research Council Canada to show how a mass timber vertical shaft could withstand a severe fire exposure lasting at least two hours. The fire resistance tests and the demonstration fire were performed to support the approval and construction of a tall wood building in Quebec city; the building is planned to be 13 storeys which includes a 12-storey wood structure above a 1-storey concrete podium. An updated calculation methologody to determine the fire resistance of CLT is provided in Capter 8 (Fire) of the CLT Handbook.
New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering Conference
April 26-28, 2013, Wellington, New Zealand
This paper describes options for seismic design of pre-fabricated timber core-wall systems, used as stairwells and lift shafts for lateral load resistance in multi-storey timber buildings. The use of Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) panels for multi-storey timber buildings is gaining popularity throughout the world, especially for residential construction. This paper describes the possible use of CLT core-walls for seismic resistance in open-plan commercial office buildings in New Zealand. Previous experimental testing at the University of Canterbury has been done on the in-plane behaviour of single and coupled Pres-Lam post-tensioned timber walls. However there has been very little research done on the behaviour of timber walls that are orthogonal to each other and no research into CLT walls in the post-tensioned Pres-Lam system. This paper describes the proposed test regime and design detailing of two half-scale two-storey CLT stairwells to be tested under a bi-directional quasi-static loading. The test specimens will include a half-flight stair case with landings within the stairwell. The “High seismic option” consists of post-tensioned CLT walls coupled with energy dissipating U-shaped Flexural Plates (UFP) attached between wall panels and square hollow section steel columns at the corner junctions. An alternative “Low seismic option” uses the same post-tensioned CLT panels, with no corner columns or UFPs. The panels will be connected by screws to provide a semi-rigid connection, allowing relative movement between the panels producing some level of energy dissipation.
This thesis discusses the results of experimental tests on two post-tensioned timber core-walls, tested under bi-directional quasi-static seismic loading. The half-scale two-storey test specimens included a stair with half-flight landings. Multi-storey timber structures are becoming increasingly desirable for architects and building owners due to their aesthetic and environmental benefits. In addition, there is increasing public pressure to have low damage structural systems with minimal business interruption after a moderate to severe seismic event. Timber has been used extensively for low-rise residential structures in the past, but has been utilised much less for multi-storey structures, traditionally limited to residential type building layouts which use light timber framing and include many walls to form a lateral load resisting system. This is undesirable for multi-storey commercial buildings which need large open spaces providing building owners with versatility in their desired floor plan. The use of Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) panels for multi-storey timber buildings is gaining popularity throughout the world, especially for residential construction. Previous experimental testing has been done on the in-plane behaviour of single and coupled post-tensioned timber walls at the University of Canterbury and elsewhere. However, there has been very little research done on the 3D behaviour of timber walls that are orthogonal to each other and no research to date into post-tensioned CLT walls. The “high seismic option” consisted of full height post-tensioned CLT walls coupled with energy dissipating U-shaped Flexural Plates (UFPs) attached at the vertical joints between coupled wall panels and between wall panels and the steel corner columns. An alternative “low seismic option” consisted of post-tensioned CLT panels connected by screws, to provide a semi-rigid connection, allowing relative movement between the panels, producing some level of frictional energy dissipation.