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Norwegian wood: Voll Arkitekter tower named world’s tallest timber building

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An 85.4m-high tower in Brumunddal, Norway, by Voll Arkitekter has been confirmed as the world’s tallest timber building by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

The 18-storey mixed-use office, hotel and residential Mjøstårnet scheme is now the third-tallest building in Norway and the country’s highest multi-function building.

The tower stole the global title from Brock Commons Tallwood House in Vancouver, a 53m-high residential block featuring a hybrid wood and concrete structure.

Until Mjøstårnet was completed, the tallest fully-timber building was also in Norway: the Artec-designed Treet in Bergen, which stands at 49m.

Mjøstårnet has been built using completely local resources, local suppliers and sustainable timber specifications. The main load-bearing structure consists of large-scale glulam trusses externally, with a cross-laminated timber core containing three lifts and two stairs. Prefabricated façade panels cover the timber structure. 

Voll arkitekter mjøstårnet exterior 03

Voll arkitekter mjøstårnet exterior 03

Source: Øystein Elgsaas, Voll Arkitekter

The completion of this building and subsequent verification as world’s tallest building comes as Arup published a new report on the use of timber in building design and construction.

The report, Rethinking Timber Buildings: Seven perspectives on the use of timber in building design and construction looks at the use of wood as a response to the urgent need to ‘rethink in our approach to construction to deliver a net zero [carbon emissions] built environment’.

Alongside case studies showcasing exemplar and contrasting methods of building with timber, the report focuses on issues ranging from refabrication and sustainable sourcing to innovation and urban densification.

Published by Arup’s internal consultant think-tank, Foresight, Research and Innovation, the report aims to ‘move the discourse forward on the increasing use of timber as part of the construction industry’s concerted endeavour to build a safe, resilient and net zero future’.

It acknowledges that solely the use of timber will not solve the built environment’s issues but advocates for timber to be considered as a important component of how professionals choose to design.

The report’s case studies include several in Europe: Filbornaverket incineration plant in Helsingborg, Sweden, a rail storage building in Zurich, Woodcube apartment building in Hamburg, Trondheim Moholt student housing village, Norway, and an office building in Dornbirn, Austria.

Alex de Rijke, director of dRMM Architects, the first practice in the UK to use CLT in a public building comments: ’I appreciate the wide-ranging and holistic nature of the report’s content, and find it an excellent and timely publication’.

Dalston Lane in London by Waugh Thistleton is also showcased for its complex site and its adoption of lightweight CLT construction, allowing a taller build in view of a proposal to construct railway tunnels beneath the site.

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