We collaborated with the very talented Jonathan Enns (ennsdesign, Solid Operations) on the conceptual design of Richmond Station. In the very early stages of the project, Jon introduced us to an innovative product called Cross Laminate Timber (or Massive Timber) that he has researched extensively.
In 2009 Jonathan was selected by Princeton University as the recipient of the Butler Travelling Fellowship for which he travelled to Austria, Scotland and Finland to study CLT. In particular, his research involved a two fold search: 1: For ways in which the use of large quantities of sustainably grown timber could be used in lifecycle carbon calculations (and be a competitive ‘green’ tactic in design), and 2: How CLT in Europe is being mobilized to challenge conventional construction in these regions, particularly at spans and scales previously reserved only for steel and concrete.
Jon explains that:
Research in this area is becoming more and more common in Canada, as both the process and production of CLT holds huge potential for the building industry and the production of architectural form.
At the small scale, CLT holds benefits as a replacement for Old Growth or reclaimed timber, being available at comparable (and likely larger) scale, while being composed of what has been seen typically as low value lumber. Being both cheaper and dimensionally stable, certain applications at the small scale would find benefits in CLT, although clearly it will never be a full replacement: Old growth has characteristics (both aesthetic and performative) unique to itself. What it would allow for however, is an increased preservation through a more strategic deployment of these characteristics. Thus for applications in which the aesthetics of CLT are sufficient, it is a worthy and interesting replacement.
This said, the unique properties and advantages of CLT clearly become obvious at the large scale. Construction with CLT is fast, light, and quiet, it can be achieved with simple tools (read: no hammer drill, no burnt out elbows), and is in many cases financially superior. Relying on a certain element of ‘prefabrication’ the process that full building in CLT imposes is in itself a sort of revolution for the building industry (especially in Canada), but is one that holds extremely exciting potentials both in terms of the environment, and –as with any new technology/process–in the production of novel architectural form.
Below, we have attached images of a small sample of CLT that Jon brought back with him from his travels. This sample belongs to KLH – a leading manufacturer of CLT based out of Austria. We also have attached images of two of the communal tables that we made with Jon for Richmond Station.
Stay tuned for images of the completed restaurant due to open in early October, and for future projects involving CLT.
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