August 2015

The Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition, which began in June last year and generated a record-making 1,715 submissions from more than 77 countries, reached its conclusion in June 2015, as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation announced the winning concept: a design that invites visitors to engage with museum artwork and programs across a gathering of linked pavilions and plazas organized around an interior street. It comes as no surprise that the winning submission from Moreau Kusunoki Architectes is clad in locally sourced charred timber and glass and will comprise nine low-lying volumes and one lighthouse-like tower.

Leading this renaissance of timber as a material of choice amongst designers is thermally modified timber (TMT), a concept pioneered by leading European players in a bid to enhance the durability, longevity, and dimensional stability of timber. More recently, the technology has spread to the U.S. and to Turkey with major producers investing in the large-scale production of thermally modified timber. Given the growing demand and acceptance of TMT, we profile some of the leading players across the world including the JAF Group, Novawood and Northland Forest Products amongst others.

This issue also raises the question on timber certification. Datuk Wee Jeck Seng, Chairman of the Malaysian Timber Council, points to the fact sustainable forestry costs money to implement, and while countries can have their forests certified as proof of sustainability, certification may not be the ultimate panacea to ensure this. NEPCon, on the other hand, highlights the increasing use of timber in green construction as a growing global trend. Consequently its growing popularity is accompanied by a growing demand for verified legality and third-party proof of sustainability, notably FSC or PEFC certification.

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