G B Walford, Scientist, Forest Research, Rotorua, NZ
In Sweden multi-storey, multi-residential timber frame construction is proving to be cheaper and faster to build than equivalent buildings in concrete or steel. It is also rated as much better by tenants who had previously lived in concrete apartments. A considerable amount of research has been done at the BRE labs in Cardington, UK, as well as the University of Lund, Sweden, covering fire, acoustic, differential movement, construction costs and disproportionate collapse. Proceedings from a series of seminars by the European COST Action Group E5 are an extremely valuable source of information.
The main concern of building authorities has been fire performance but those concerns now appear to have been allayed. Having building regulations expressed in performance terms rather than prescriptive terms has been a significant breakthrough for timber in this application. Most of the research effort concerns acoustic insulation and isolation of the separate tenancies within buildings, as this is the item that causes most annoyance for occupants. A clever development of timber framing that provides both thermal and acoustic insulation has been patented by Södra Timber AB.
This article is extracted from my report on visits to one centre in the UK and four inSweden.Return to Journal index