The world’s tallest wooden buildings

13 November 2019 (Last Updated November 13th, 2019 11:32)

While concrete structures have dominated skylines for decades, the future of sustainable design appears to lie in the world’s oldest construction material: wood. Designbuild-network.com takes a look at some of the world’s tallest wooden buildings.

Alongside clear design advantages such as reduced weight and high thermal and acoustic performance, engineered wood products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels store carbon rather than contributing to its release, making it the most environmentally friendly design material available.

Mjøsa Tower, Norway

Mjøsa Tower, the tallest wooden building in the world, was completed in March 2019. Located in Brumunddal, Norway, the tower measures 85.4m-tall and features 18 floors with a hotel, offices and residential apartments.

The high-rise is made from Kerto laminated veneer lumber (LVL), with glue-laminated timber (glulam) columns and beams comprising the load-bearing structure.

Prefabricated wooden elements make up the first ten floors while the upper floor decks are constructed of concrete, which adds more weight to stabilise the building.

Prefabricated sections meant that construction was completed significantly quicker than a concrete building of the same height. The environmental impact of the construction of Mjøsa Tower was designed to be kept at a minimum, with most of the materials sourced within two miles of the site.

HoHo, Austria

Opened to the public in early June 2019, HoHo in Seestadt Aspern near Vienna, Austria, is the world’s second-tallest wooden tower building at 84m, with 24 storeys.

The building’s façade is made from 75% wood and features a concrete core. Natural spruce is used for the interior walls and ceilings, which have a thin layer of concrete to support them.

Construction on the building began in October 2016. It is estimated that, by using wood, architects saved 2,800t of CO2.

Residential apartments are featured on three of the upper floors, with a total of 1,300m² of rental space across 24 serviced apartments. Underneath the residential area is a 120-room hotel, spanning nine floors.

Other facilities include four floors of rentable office space for businesses, as well as a restaurant and beauty, wellness and health commercial areas on the lower floors.

Brock Commons Tall House, Canada

Brock Commons Tallwood House is a student accommodation facility at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. It is a 53m-tall building featuring 18 floors of apartments to accommodate 404 students.

Similar to other wood constructions, the tower was made of prefabricated components, which allowed construction to be completed 70 days after the components were delivered on-site in 2017.

Five-ply CLT panels were used for the floors, supported by glulam columns, while the roof comprises steel beams and metal decking.

To comply with fire regulations, which were made stricter than for traditional steel or reinforced concrete buildings, interior wood materials were covered with gypsum board.

Treet, Norway

Situated in Bergen, Norway, the 51m-tall Treet residential block was completed in 2015, four years after the design process commenced in 2011. The 14-storey building comprises 64 apartments and is also known as ‘The Tree’ due to its wooden design materials.

Treet was constructed using a modular timber frame. Parts of the building’s façade are clad in glass and metal to protect the wood from weathering.

As a result of its lighter weight compared to concrete high-rises, Treet’s structure is reinforced with a load-bearing framework structure made from glulam truss working at every fourth level and an independent prefabricated module with a reinforced concrete deck at the fifth and tenth floors.

Forte Development, Australia

Located in Melbourne’s Victoria Harbour, Forte Melbourne became Australia’s first high-rise timber building when completed in 2012.

The structure used CLT panels to ensure an environmentally friendly construction process. The panels were stacked at right angles, glued over the surface and pressed hydraulically.

The 32.17m Forte Development building stands at ten storeys high and features 23 residential apartments and four townhouses. The apartments are dual-aspect to make the most of natural lighting and have also been designed with thermal efficiency in mind, requiring less energy to be heated.

Murray Grove Stadthaus, UK

The Murray Grove Stadthaus is situated in Hackney, north-east London, UK. With nine stories, Stadthaus comprises 29 apartments, both private and affordable.

“Murray Grove was named the world’s first housing high-rise to be constructed entirely from prefabricated cross laminated timber panels.”

When completed in 2009, Murray Grove was named the world’s first housing high-rise to be constructed entirely from pre-fabricated CLT panels, with its core, load-bearing walls, floor slabs, stairs and lift cores all built using the highly sustainable material.

Structural engineers at Techniker and KLH created the Stadthaus’ concept design, which positioned the individual flats in a honeycomb pattern around the building’s central core.

KLH panels were used on the building’s structural core due to their significantly higher density than timber frames. Independent layers were then added to this, maintaining a high acoustic performance for Stadthaus Murray Grove.

Immeuable Perspective, France

Immeuble Perspective is an office building located near the Simone Weil Bridge in Bordeaux’s upcoming financial district. It is 30m tall, with 4,600m² of floor space spread across seven storeys.

80% of the office building is constructed from wood, with the core made from concrete. The façade is made of Douglas pine and is finished with spruce padding.

Immeuble Perspective is one of the first buildings to receive the label of BBCA, a French accreditation for low carbon buildings.

Wood Innovation and Design Centre, Canada

Located in Prince George, Wood Innovation and Design Centre (WIDC) is a hub for those studying, researching and generating ideas about the innovative design possibilities of wood.

Standing 29.5m tall, WIDC has eight levels, including a ground floor mezzanine and rooftop mechanical penthouse. The lower three floors are occupied by the University of Northern British Columbia while the upper floors provide office space for wood-industry related organisations.

The building’s primary structure combines built-up CLT floor panels and post-and-beam construction, with no concrete used above the ground floor slab.

Glue-laminated timber beams and columns were selected for the structural design and building envelope, as well as other engineered wood products such as CLT, parallel strand lumber and laminated veneer lumber.

For WIDC’s exterior, a type of cladding was used that combined naturally weathered and charred western red cedar siding.

Puukuokka, Finland

Puukuokka is a trio of wooden high-rises located in the Jyväskylä suburb of Kuokkala, central Finland.

“Each housing unit is comprised of two volumetric CLT modules: one containing the living room, bedroom and balcony and the other the kitchen, bathroom and foyer.”

Across its three six to eight storey-high rise buildings, the complex offers a combination of studio flats, as well as one and two-bedroom apartments. There are 184 apartments in total, each containing a sauna and balcony.

The entire load-bearing frame and structure are made from modular prefabricated CLT. Each housing unit comprises two volumetric CLT modules: one containing the living room, bedroom and balcony while the other contains the kitchen, bathroom and foyer.

The project has been awarded multiple architecture prizes, including the Finlandia Prize for Architecture 2015, the Wood Award 2015 and the Resident Act of the Year Award 2016.

Strandparken, Sweden

The Strandparken complex comprises four eight-storey apartment buildings located on the riverside of Bällstaån in Sundyberg, Stockholm.

Each building contains 31 units, which range from one to four-bedroom flats. The buildings’ shapes are designed in the style of an archetypal house, with pitched roofs and gable ends.

Strandparken’s load-bearing frames were made entirely from prefabricated solid wood modules. Due to the lightweight nature of the materials used, metal rods running the height of the buildings were anchored to the foundation.

To emphasise Strandparken’s natural, wooden construction method, a light ash wood was used for the stairs, floors and walls while the balcony was constructed from cedar. Cedar shingles were used for the exterior cladding.

Across the entire development, 28,000m² of CLT, 280m³ of glulam and 14,000m² of cedar shingles were used, making it one of the world’s biggest residential timber development projects.

Carbon12, US

Built in 2018, Carbon12 became America’s tallest wooden building at 26m. It was built using CLT panels, paving the way for new code restrictions on the building of wooden high-rises in America.

Across its eight storeys, Carbon12 provides a collection of 14 spacious apartments, with two 489m² units on each floor accessible by elevators that open directly into the flat.

The building was built with a buckling-restrained brace frame core to better equip it in the event of an earthquake. It also features rooftop solar panels, an underground parking system and ground-floor retail spaces.