Timber construction offers the possibility of minimal cost and no carbon footprint combined. Cross-wall high-rise structures, particularly residential buildings, have low stresses in their structural components. Walls and floors that are dimensioned to provide adequate acoustic separation and thermal performance have plenty of substance to resist the levels of applied loading encountered. This paper describes the design and construction of a nine storey cross-laminated timber apartment building in east central London and explores the factors limiting the height of future projects in solid timber construction. A preliminary design for a 30 storey tower is presented.
The Stadthaus apartment building in Murray Grove was made with solid timber walls and floors using the proprietary system of KLH UK Ltd. The architects are Waugh Thistleton and the engineers are Techniker Ltd. The typical product is a panel of solid spruce formed of strips stacked in perpendicular layers and then glued under a pressure of 60 tonnes/m2. As building components these units have reduced moisture movement and increased strength compared to unmodified timbers. Manufacturing plant is arranged to provide the maximum size of panel that can be readily transported, 2.95 metres x 16.5 metres in thicknesses of up to 32 centimetres. The biggest panels therefore weigh 15 tonnes, well within the range of standard mobile craneage. The panels are usually arranged to be mutually supporting (like a card house) or in folded plate assemblies. The joints are made as simple as possible using light metal fixings to disperse forces.