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First look

CF Møller completes tallest totally timber housing block in Sweden

  • 4 Comments

The nine-storey building, which sits next to Lake Mälaren in Västerås, uses mechanical joints with screws throughout, so it can be taken apart at the end of its life and its materials recycled

The housing block, designed by CF Møller, has an elevated ground floor and a double-height top floor. It is the tallest totally timber structure in Sweden, although considerably shorter than the 18-storey Mjøstårnet tower designed by Voll Arkitekter in Brumunddal in Norway which was completed early last year. 

The building’s site is located adjacent to a square and a quayside promenade along Lake Mälaren in Kajstaden, a new neighbourhood that is an extension of Västerås city centre.

02 kajstaden kavfot10 photo by nikolaj jakobsen

02 kajstaden kavfot10 photo by nikolaj jakobsen

Source: Nikolaj Jakobsen

Nine storerys high with four flats per floor, each floor took four workmen an average of three days to put together. Mechanical joints with screws were used throughout, meaning the building was designed so it can be taken apart so that the materials can be easily recycled. This building is part of the first stage of a 99 home project.

In construction the low weight of the material meant fewer deliveries to the construction site and a more efficient, safer and quieter working environment. 

The total estimated carbon dioxide saving over using a concrete frame is estimated to be 550 tonnes. 

08 kajstaden kavfot45 photo by nikolaj jakobsen

08 kajstaden kavfot45 photo by nikolaj jakobsen

Source: Nikolaj Jakobsen

Architects view

We prioritise sustainable materials, such as timber, for construction when possible. The positive ecological footprint is the most important benefit, reducing emissions of CO2 in the atmosphere by sequestering carbon in the building. The low weight of the material streamlines the building process, reduces transportation and creates new opportunities for the design.

The two main challenges using CLT are moisture at the building site and insurance policies for fire. It’s therefore important to have clear policies for protecting the timber from water during the construction. There are several solutions for fire protection. It’s important that the architecture implies that it’s a timber building, therefore it’s important to include the insurance consultant at an early stage and agree upon which solutions, beyond the Eurocodes, are necessary to find the optimal design.

Modern timber technology offers many advantages. We can make greater spans than with any other material and the production line is much more connected to our digital way of designing than most other materials. With CNC cutting machines working in combination with the robustness and lightness of the material the possibilities are endless.

Ola Jonsson, associate partner, CF Møller Architects

Typical floor plan 9 storey timber building 1 100

Typical floor plan 9 storey timber building 1 100

Source: C.F.Møller

Typical floor plan

Project data

Start on site 2016
Completion date February 2019
Gross internal floor area 7,500 m²
Client Slättö Förvaltning
Structural engineer Bjerking (Markus Lagerwall)
Landscape consultant CF Møller Architects
Main contractor Martinsons and Consto
CAD software used Revit

  • 4 Comments

Readers' comments (4)

  • The point about needing to protect the timber against moisture from water at the building site makes me wonder if this form of construction would face more challenges in a relatively more humid climate, for example large parts of the UK.
    Perhaps the CLT panels can be really efficiently sealed to avoid any dimensional instability through changes in moisture content, and presumably there's the need to allow differential vertical movement between the timber structure and metalwork in the mechanical services and lift guides.
    ps - the sustainability diagram notes cycling rather than driving - but also refers to home delivery groceries - what's wrong with cycle panniers, for groceries?

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  • Interesting floor plan with no smoke lobbies in individual flats ...

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  • Interesting that the smaller apartments have larger kitchens, and what is the purpose of the cupboard with a window next to the single bedrooms of the larger apartment?

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  • To add to Robert Wakeham's point I can only say the necessity of protecting CLT from rain during construction speaks to its vulnerability after completion.
    Moisture intrusion whether from condensation, leaks, careless plumbers or dodgy fire sprinklers can render the structure irreparable.
    An excellent product in case of fire, but monster pieces of plywood with no intermediate supports will twist and warp in the presence of moisture.

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