Posts tagged with "University of British Columbia":

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Architects apply the latest in fabrication, design, and visualization to age-old timber

Every so often, the field of architecture is presented with what is hailed as the next “miracle building material.” Concrete enabled the expansion of the Roman Empire, steel densified cities to previously unthinkable heights, and plastic reconstituted the architectural interior and the building economy along with it.  But it would be reasonable to question why and how, in the 21st century, timber was accorded a miracle status on the tail-end of a timeline several millennia long. Though its rough-hewn surface and the puzzle-like assembly it engenders might seem antithetical to the current global demand for exponential building development, it is timber’s durability, renewability, and capacity for sequestering carbon—rather than release it—that inspires the building industry to heavily invest in its future.  Cross-laminated timber (CLT), a highly resilient form of engineered wood made by gluing layers of solid-sawn lumber together, was first developed in Europe in the early 1990s, yet the product was not commonly used until the 2000s and was only introduced into the International Building Code in 2015. While mid-to-large range firms around the world have been in competition to build the largest or the tallest timber structures to demonstrate its comparability to concrete and steel, a number of independent practitioners have been applying the latest methods of fabrication, computational design techniques, and visualization software to the primordial material. Here, AN exhibits a cross-section of the experimental work currently being pursued with the belief that timber can be for the future what concrete, steel, and plastic have been in the past. AnnaLisa Meyboom In the Fall of 2018, 15 of professor AnnaLisa Meyboom’s students at the University of British Columbia (UBC), along with David Correa at University of Waterloo, Oliver David Krieg of Intelligent City, and 22 industry participants designed and constructed the third annual Wander Wood Pavilion, a twisting, latticed timber structure made up entirely of non-identical components.  By taking advantage of the advanced fabrication resources available at the UBC Centre for Advanced Wood Processing, including a CNC mill and an multi-axis industrial robot, the project was both a learning opportunity for its design team and a demonstration to a broader public that timber is a more than viable material to which contemporary fabrication technologies can be applied. The pavilion forms a bench on one end that's large enough for two people, a public invitation test the structure's strength and durability for themselves. While the pavilion only required three days to fabricate and assemble on-site, a significant amount of time and energy was spent ensuring its quick assembly when the time came. A rigorous design workflow was established that balanced an iterative design process with rapid geometric output that accounted for logical assembly sequencing. Every piece of the pavilion was then milled to interlock into place and be further secured by metal rivets. The project was devised in part to teach students one strategy for narrowing the gap between digital design and physical fabrication while applying a novel material. In this vein, a standard industrial robot was used throughout the fabrication process that was then “set up with an integrator specifically to work on wood,” according to Meyboom. Gilles Retsin While Gilles Retsin, the London-based architect and professor at the Bartlett School of Architecture, has long experimented with both computational design and novel methods of fabrication, a recent focus on timber has propelled his practice into a bold new direction. A giant wooden structure installed at London’s Royal Academy in early 2019, for instance, was the architect’s first attempt at applying augmented reality to modular timber construction through the use of Microsoft’s Hololens. “We used AR to send instructions directly from the digital model to the team working on-site,” Retsin explained. “AR therefore helps us understand what a fully-automated construction process would look like, where a digital model communicates directly with people and robots on site.” In a recent international competition set in Nuremberg, Germany, Retsin set his sights on a much larger scale for what would have been the world’s first robotically prefabricated timber concert hall. Designed in collaboration with architect Stephan Markus Albrecht, engineering consultancy Bollinger-Grohmann, and climate engineers Transsolar and acoustic specialists Theatre Projects, the proposal takes advantage of the site’s location in a region with an abundance of timber while envisioning the material’s application to a uniquely challenging building type. The building’s form exhibits the material’s lightness using 30-foot sawtooth CLT prefabricated modules over the main lobby spaces, which are exposed from the exterior thanks to a seamless glass envelope.  “Designing in timber not only means a more sustainable future, but also has architects profoundly redesigning buildings from the ground up,” said Retsin. “It’s a challenging creative task, we’re really questioning the fundamental parts, the building blocks of architecture again.”  Casey Rehm For SCI-Arc professor Casey Rehm, working with timber has meant challenging many issues in the field of architecture at once. Timber is a rarely-considered building material in Los Angeles given the high time and material costs associated with its transportation and manufacturing. “Right now,” Rehm said, “the industry is manually laying up two-by-sixes into industrial presses, pressing them into panels, and then manually cutting window openings.” But if timber waste itself was adopted as a building material, he argued, the material could be far more globally cost-efficient.  While timber has been used in the construction of increasingly large structures around the world, such as multistory housing developments and office buildings, Rehm believes the material can be reasonably adapted to a smaller scale for quick deployment. In this vein, Rehm has been researching strategies with his students for producing inexpensive CLT panels for the construction of homeless housing and accessory dwelling units in Los Angeles, a city with a particularly conspicuous housing shortage.  But aside from its potential as a cost and material-efficient material, the architect has applied timber to even his most exploratory design work. NN_House 1, a sprawling single-floor home Rehm proposed in 2018 for the desert plains of Joshua Tree, California, was designed in part using a 3D neural network to develop ambiguous divisions between rooms, as well as to blur the divide between interior and exterior. The AI was trained on the work of modernist architects—while producing idiosyncrasies of its own—to develop a living space with multiple spatial readings. Kivi Sotamaa As an architect practicing in Finland, Kivi Sotamaa is certainly not unique in his community for his admiration of the far-reaching possibilities of timber construction. He is, however, producing novel research into its application at a domestic scale to reimagine how wood can be used as a primary material for home construction. The Meteorite, a three-story home the architect has designed near Helsinki constructed entirely of locally-grown CLT, was designed using an organizational strategy the architect has nicknamed ‘the misfit.’ This system, as Sotamaa defines it, creates two distinct formal systems to generate room-sized interstitial spaces that simultaneously act as insulation, storage space, and housing for the building’s technical systems. “Aesthetically,” Sotamaa elaborated, “the misfit strategy allows for the creation of a large scale monolithic form on the outside, which addresses the scale of the forest, and an intricate human-scale spatial arrangement on the interior.” Altogether, the architect estimates, the home’s CLT slabs have sequestered 59,488 kilograms, or roughly 65 tons, of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The Meteorite was developed and introduced to the client using virtual reality, and Sotamaa hopes to apply other visualization technologies to the design and production of timber architecture, including augmented reality that could allow builders to view assembly instructions in real-time on site. “When the pieces are in order on-site and [with clear] instructions,” Sotamaa explained, “the assembly of the three-dimensional puzzle can happen swiftly and efficiently, saving energy and resources when compared with conventional construction processes.” 
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This 18-story building went up in 66 days thanks to the right mass timber products

When it came time for Acton Ostry Architects to select a manufacturer for the mass timber components of the 18-story Brock Commons Tallwood House at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, Structurlam stood out.

“Experience, qualifications, supply, schedule, cost” all worked to Structurlam’s benefit, according to Russell Acton, principal at Acton Ostry. Acton explained that along with supplying mass wood structural components, Structurlam provided end-to-end oversight and support by “[collaborating] with the structural engineer, construction manager, and mass wood erector to refine the design and optimize cost, quality, and constructibility considerations for the mass wood components.”

As a result of Structurlam’s comprehensive approach, the hybrid concrete-and-mass-timber structure building was erected in record time: just 66 days. The tower features 1,302 10-inch-by-10-inch Douglas Fir Glulam columns and 464 Douglas fir CLT panels of varying thicknesses, all fabricated by Structurlam.

But don’t think that all that wood is going to be hidden behind the project’s fire-resistant Type X gypsum wallboards. Instead, wood finishes cover the building inside and out. That includes the dormitory’s shared spaces, where JSV Architectural Veneering & Millwork has crafted maple veneer panels and wood grilles for the project. In other areas, 24-inch-by-24-inch albus wood ceiling panels by Linea Ceiling provide a “decorative and functional” alternative to conventional acoustic drop-down ceilings.

Design Architect: Acton Ostry Architects Construction: Urban One Builders Mass Timber Fabricator: Structurlam Facade Fabricator and Installer: Centura Building Systems Punched Window Manufacturer: Phoenix Glass Custom Interior Millwork: JSV Architectural Veneering & Millwork Drop Ceiling Fabricator: Linea Ceiling & Wall Systems Door Manufacturer: McGregor & Thompson
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Acton Ostry Architects breaks ground on 18-story wooden residential tower

Canada's Acton Ostry Architects, in collaboration with tall wood advisor Architekten Hermann Kaufmann, has begun construction on the appropriately named "Tall Wood Building," an 18-story, 174-foot-tall residential tower for Canada’s University of British Columbia (UBC) upper year and graduate students. The tower will be the largest wooden residential tower, but maybe not for long: MGA's 35-story Baobab is still awaiting approval. Tall Wood Building will house approximately 400 students and include 33, four-bed units and 272 studio apartments. The ground floor of the tower will feature both study and social areas, and the communal student lounge will be located on the top floor. The cost for students to live in this building will be the same and/or similar to other on-campus living options. Located on Walter Gage Road north of the North Parkade, the $51.5-million, mass timber superstructure will sit upon a solid concrete base. From the outside, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the tower has a wood structure. The building’s facade will be comprised of both white and charcoal-colored prefabricated metal panels. “This beautiful, new tall wood building will serve as a living laboratory for the UBC community,” UBC interim president Martha Piper said in a statement. “It will advance the university’s reputation as a hub of sustainable and innovative design, and provide our students with much-needed on-campus housing.” Tall Wood Building will join the family of UBC wood structure campus buildings, including the AMS Student Nest and Engineering Student Centre, the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, the Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility, and the Earth Sciences Building. In addition to being a student residence, the building will also act as an academic site for both UBC students and researchers. UBC is currently working toward achieving a minimum of LEED Gold for Tall Wood Building, and the building is scheduled to be complete by 2017.