Japan continues to invest in mass timber structures

Port Plus

The worldwide market for mass timber buildings and structures continues to expand and many are rising in Japan, often combining modern construction techniques with traditional Japanese joinery, according to IWF Atlanta.

The latest is the Obayashi Port Plus building in Yokohama, the port city that serves Tokyo.

Completed last year, Port Plus is a fully wooden-framed, fire-resistant high rise composed mainly of 540 wooden rigid cross-joints that are 9.2ft-wide by 13ft-tall.

“We believe that the utilisation of forest resources will lead to the realisation of a low-carbon society and the revitalisation of local communities,” Shinji Yamasaki, chief engineer in Obayashi’s timber construction promotion department, said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg which reported on the new structure.

“The company is committed to wooden construction and actively forming alliances across the forestry industry,” Bloomberg reported Yamasaki adding.

The news story went on to say that “the building’s main technical innovation is also its architectural highlight: The rigid cross-joints effectively combine traditional columns and beams into single prefabricated units, composed of laminated veneer lumber (LVL) wrapped in multiple layers of fire-resistant plasterboard and a finishing layer of wood. Glued-in rods and nuki joints, a traditional Japanese carpentry technique, strengthen and connect the units. No adhesives are used in the larch core, so the timber can be reused at the end of the building’s life.”

Japan is aiming to cut its carbon emissions by 46% by 2030 from 2013 levels and achieve carbon neutrality by mid-century, the report said. The use of mass timber in new construction is a big part of the effort and for Obayashi the Port Plus building is as much a learning experience as it is a functioning structure.

Source: Bloomberg; IWF Atlanta