The rise of timber as a modern construction material
Timber is probably one of the most sustainable construction materials available however many people consider it to be expensive and architecturally restrictive; however timber is making a comeback on both small-scale and large scale projects.
Probably the most familiar place we see this is in Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT), which see layers of softwood planks glued and pressed together at right angles, creating a solid cross-section which can be used for floors and walls as well as support for multi-plane loads – a key to the flexibility of this material.
Recently Ramboll completed work at William Perkin School in West London. It’s a great example of how this technology can be put to work; the school cost around £20m with a floor space over 13,000m2 where the whole school is constructed using CLT panel, making it the UK’s largest solid timber panel building.
Construction of the school used around 3,800m3 of timber whilst generating around 1,300t of embodied carbon emissions whilst storing 3,100t of carbon dioxide, meaning the school will be carbon neutral for around 10 years.
Utilising CLT instead of concrete also reduced the construction time, from an estimated 38 weeks to 19 weeks, resulting in considerable financial savings in terms of onsite labour and associated costs, which despite higher upfront costs, are likely to have been translated into reduced overall costs when compared to a more traditional steel and concrete construction.
If there were any remaining doubt about the versatility of CLT as a construction material the William Perkin School project demonstrate that creativity need not be restricted by the use of this material.