Architecturally Innovative Multi-Storey Timber Buildings : Methodology and Design

Sammanfattning: This investigation applies architectural ideas of mass-customised difference and repetition, and tests them within the engineering paradigm of very tall timber buildings – taller than have ever been erected in the history of architecture. According to Edward Glaeser’s book, Triumph of the City, the cheapest way to deliver new housing (at least in the USA) is in theform of mass-produced two-storey homes, which typically cost only about $84 per square foot to erect. While building up is more costly, many of the costs – such as hiring a fancy, big-name architect – are fixed and won’t increase with the height of the building. In fact, once you’ve reached a height of about seven floors, building up has its own economic logic, since those fixed costs can be spread over more living units, writes Glaeser, before continuing: “The actual marginal cost of adding an extra square foot of living space at the topof a skyscraper in New York is typically less than $400”. If to this we add all the financial advantages of using stacked structures made from engineered timber – lower construction costs due to the simple geometry, and the speed oferection (four men built the nine stories of our primary precedent, the Stadthaus building in London, in nine weeks, reducing the entire building process from 72 weeks to 49); larger savings on the entire building (again, the Stadthaus came in at 15 percent less expensive than a concrete equivalent); and lower costs for transportation and foundations due to the lighterweight of the material – it soon becomes clear that timber developments make financial sense. Timber can also be precisely incorporated into different proprietary building systems: throughout this project, the systems of three Swedish manufacturers (Martinsons, Moelven, and Byggma) are used as structural frameworks. The trio of multi-storey timber buildings isbased on conceptual notions of stacking, cutting, and slotting, respectively. These simple formal ideas (a variation on Deleuze’s thoughts on difference and repetition) are interpreted to align with the fundamental material logic of wood, as well as with the specific ramifications of these existing timber building systems. Methodologically, these buildings utilise a primary organisational principle to inform its volumetric massing, circulatory planning, arrangement of living units, fenestration configuration, and so on, while allowing for other principles to guide further aspects so as to avoid what Reiser + Umemoto call The Abuse of the Diagram: “Any one organizational model has limits. The ambition to carry a diagram through all levels of a single architecturalproject is exhaustive and reductive. To have one model determine all aspects of design is to simplify what is in reality a richer, more heterogeneous complexity. A true multiplicity requires that many different models be coordinated. A single model relentlessly deployed at all scales emerges as merely formal.”Having said that, an initial investigation into simple formal moves at the outset of a project often yields a plethora of potential trajectories created by the self-imposed constraints that are carried through by the limiting conceptual framework we choose to adopt. There appears to be a certain psychology of limitation that are highly beneficial for devising new ideas, be theyformal, spatial, or haptically driven. As neuroscience journalist Jonah Lehrer puts it in his book Imagine: How Creativity Works: “...the imagination is unleashed by constraints. You break out of the box by stepping into shackles”. The following is a study of such a break-out attempt.