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Maggie’s Oldham, the world’s first building made from hardwood cross-laminated timber (CLT), opens in the UK.

The world’s first building, made from hardwood cross-laminated tulipwood has opened in Oldham, designed by dRMM Architects and supported by the American Hardwood Export Council, marking an important step for modern architecture and construction.

Maggie’s in a charity supporting those living with cancer, and so dRMM chose tulipwood for the design of Maggie’s Oldham for the positive influence wood has on people and for the beauty, strength and warmth inherent to American tulipwood. Wood is known to significantly reduce blood pressure, heart rates and recovery times; it has more health and wellbeing benefits than any other building material, according to Wood Housing Humanity Report 2015.

This pioneering piece of permanent architecture is constructed from more than 20 panels of five layer cross-laminated American tulipwood, ranging in size from 0.5m – 12m long.

American tulipwood CLT was pioneered in 2013 by dRMM, AHEC and Arup for its unparalleled strength and lightness, speed of construction and sustainability. American tulipwood is approximately 70% stronger in bending than a typical CLT grade softwood. The structural CLT panels for Maggie’s Oldham were developed by CLT specialists, Züblin Timber.

The first public experiment with this building material was The Endless Stair, created during the London Design Festival 2013. Arup’s engineering calculations show the structure could have supported 100 people at any one time.

Tulipwood CLT is one of the most sustainable timber species because of how fast it replenishes, through natural growth alone.

Maggie’s Oldham contains 27.6m3 of American tulipwood and 1.1m3 of American ash, equivalent to around 55.22m3 and 2.1m3 respectively of sawn wood before processing, which in terms comes from around 115.7m3 of logs – and all these logs will be replaced in just 120 seconds (108 seconds for the tulipwood and 12 seconds for the ash).

“From the Oldham project inception we knew it was the right material for Maggie’s, not only structurally and visually, but conceptually. An elevated, open plan, all-timber and glass building – with trees growing through it, and every detail considered from the perspective of use, health, and delight – was always going to be special,” says Alex de Rijke. Maggie’s Oldham has a built-in, very visible holistic design message that supports the central aims of the design – to uplift and offer hope to people living with cancer. The applications for sustainably grown hardwood, particularly fast growing tulipwood CLT is endless. The environmental, structural and visual qualities are demonstrated explicitly at dRMM’s Maggie’s; a manifesto for wood as the natural choice for contemporary architecture of physical and psychological well-being.”

For AHEC, Maggie’s Oldham is one of the most important developments in a decade of research and development into structural timber innovation and one that could broaden the use of CLT in the construction industry. The creation of this product and significant use of hardwood will transform the way architects and engineers approach timber construction.

Source – UK Construction Online

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