In Canada, mass timber proves itself

The University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, Canada, has realised what none have so far: an 18-storey wood building – the tallest wooden building in the world – made wholly out of mass timber, and with a fire code that has left even fire chiefs impressed. The structure houses students living on campus in UBC.

The mass timber utilised may be naturally fire resistant, but that factor, including the original limit set for wooden buildings by the National Building Code of Canada at six storeys, made a special permit for the 18-storey giant necessary.

But because of the new structure’s roaring success, by 2020, the National Building Code of Canada may allow encapsulated mass timber wood edifices of up to 12 storeys, and may even serve as a catalyst for similar uses of the timber in the future.

“The building’s 169-milimeter-thick CLT (cross-laminated timber) panels, used for the floors, were constructed with five layers of dimensional lumber oriented at right angles to one another and then bonded together,” an article in Firefighting in Canada (FFIC) states. “Glulam (glued laminated timber), used in the columns, is also composed of bonded dimensional lumber, with the grain running parallel to the beam’s length.”

In Quebec, a demonstration proved that in the event the very same CLT panels used for the structure caught fire, the flames would be contained in the area it began in – even though the temperatures may hit their highest point – and would burn itself out in around two hours.

“I would call this extremely safe from a fire perspective. It’s a very safe building, once completed,” Assistant Chief of community safety from the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, Ray Bryant said in an interview with Wood Business, adding that the mass timber utilised for the building made it far safer than a “stick-built structure.”

Source: Wood Business