June 2016

If the 19th century was the age of steel, and the 20th of concrete; this century is the new age of timber. New types of engineered timber that are considerably stronger and more stable than regular wood are allowing architects to build bigger and higher, with timber skyscrapers now a real prospect. Leading this revolution is cross-laminated timber (CLT), which has been widely heralded as the system to build tall timber towers with. The London Design Festival 2016 have announced four Landmark Projects and two – The Smile and Baboushka Boxes – will be made from CLT. As the world re-embraces timber as a building material, it is hoped that they will become recognized more for the possibilities they can o er in all aspects of design and construction.

In his article for this issue, Neil Summers, AHEC Technical Consultant, points out that whilst the wide range of American hardwood species offer the architect and designer a wonderful palette of colors, textures and grains from which to make furniture and design interiors; what they do not offer is a very durable wood species that can be considered for outdoor applications such as cladding or decking. Meanwhile, their use in structural applications has been somewhat limited by a lack of know-how. However, this is now changing through the application of new, and relatively simple, technology coupled with a readiness to explore timber as a material for a wider range of construction solutions. Through AHEC’s vision, sustainable American hardwoods are now beginning to enter new and exciting commercial markets.

The new head office of dryer and cooler manufacturer Geelen Counterflow in Haelen, the Netherlands, is the most sustainable office in the world, receiving a 99.94 percent score in the BREEAM certification system. Designed by Architecten en Bouwmeesters, the office building’s main bearing construction consists of a solid wooden bearing construction, which was made by German company – NUR-HOLZ. In addition, the designers also decided to use Accoya, manufactured by Accsys Technologies, to produce key elements of the build in order to support their client’s desire to produce a new office with unrivalled green credentials. As such the building for 50 office employees generates 50 percent more solar energy than it needs for heating, air conditioning, lighting and computers.

Here in the UAE, the newly opened Cocktail Kitchen and Bar, designed by UAE based practice Anarchitect, continues to delight returning cocktail and food connoisseurs and challenges design expectations of Dubai for both local and international audiences. Using American white oak and American red oak, architects Jonathan Ashmore and Tarik Zaharna have created a sequence of spaces over 500 sqm that maximize social interaction as part of the overall experience. We take a closer look at the project, which features a refined material palette made up of three core elements; stone, metal and wood. Each in itself respectively represents solidity, precision and nature and when combined they create a superlative refinement and playfulness in the project.

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