Chäserrugg summit restaurant 121015

Sometimes in life you get very lucky and I have just had one of those great days. After our morning at the Tamedia centre I did not expect another awe-inspiring construction quite so soon. However, a visit to Chäserrugg in Switzerland was quite inspiring both from the view of the natural landscape and the rather wonderful timber construction.

Down in the valley

Down in the valley

The Chäserrugg at 2262m is the easternmost peak of the seven mountains that make up the Churfirsten Massif. It rises up gently from the Toggenburg to the north and becomes a steep cliff to the south, plummeting almost 1905m down to the Lake of Walensee. The high flat plateau formed by the stands in great contrast to the steep, precipitous walls of the cliff. Behind this impressive topography, the backdrop of the Alps stretches all the way to the horizon. The region has been accessible since 1972 via the Unterwasser-Iltios-Chäserrugg Cable Car and can be reached in less than an hour from Zurich and St.Gallen.

A view from the plateau

A view from the plateau

 

Wow a view

Wow a view

The cable car from Unterwasser was our lift to the mountain plateau and after a morning of fog and mist we were greeted by clear skies and great visibility. We were joined by many other visitors and hikers out to make the most of the good weather. Checking the weather the next day it was down to -9C with no visibility and a good covering of snow. We had a very special day.

The arrival hall

The arrival hall

The arrival hall

The arrival hall

The cable car terminates at the top of the mountain in part of the original concrete and steel building. Walking out of this one is greeted by a magnificent timber structure of the new chalet development. Ever since the original cable car system commenced operation, the restaurant was located in the housing originally built for the construction workers. Now this has been removed to make room for a new restaurant. The new mountain restaurant is placed perpendicular to the original station, extending horizontally along the mountain panorama towards the south. A large roofed area connects the two structures and creates an outdoor arrival hall.

The restaurant outside

The restaurant outside

The restaurant outside

The restaurant outside

This stunning summit building was designed by the architects Herzog & de Meuron. Timber, local spruce has been used as main building material. The dramatic timber-framed structure grants the building a truly stunning character.

 

The new station is constructed in solid wood on a concrete foundation. It was engineered by Blumer-Lehman, prefabricated in the valley and assembled on top of the mountain in the course of a summer by the builders Toggenburg Bergbahnen. Concreters started their work in April, with the timber construction beginning in June and with a specific need of having the roof in place by November 2014. This was an unusual build with snow in October halting the construction for 3 weeks. The whole construction including fit out took only one year. The interior fitout-taking place during the winter.

 

Wood was used to reflect the local tradition, which is evident in the buildings in the valley below. The building materials apart from the crane, which was transported by helicopter, were delivered by cable car in the course of its regular runs. The sling and attachments below the cable care are still visible. The excavated earth was used to make the concrete and also as an ingredient of the gravel surfacing. Concrete was obviously mixed at the top. To protect the timber a foil cover was applied, the longest beam being 23m. One challenge of note is the required scaffolding especially on the cantilever section- have a look at the photo.

The Cantilever section

The Cantilever section

The roof was designed with the need to withstand up to 1.2 tonne per m2 of snow weight combined with impact of regular strong winds. The roof design was thoroughly tested in a wind tunnel. In total some 3,600 tonnes of material was brought up from below including 1000m3 of timber (from 2300m3 of logs).

 

The wood construction including the glulam beams was planned in 3D along with the location of all the screws. The timber was then cut and designed ready for installation. The concrete and steel were planned to integrate and be visible as part of this hybrid design. The building has a 60-minute fire resistance time

 

The restaurant is a long, flexible space, its atmosphere marked by the repetitive woodwork from locally sourced spruce trees. The low-hung roof resting on closely placed columns is the dominant element of the building with a covered terrace in front. Glazed on three sides, the restaurant offers spectacular views of the scenery. Niches with built-in benches and tables occupy the fourth side of the room. Each niche has its own window and thus its own-framed view of the mountain scape.

Inside the restaurant

Inside the restaurant

Inside the restaurant

Inside the restaurant

The views from this restaurant are stunning and we were caught between enjoying the beauty of the area and learning more about the amazing restaurant construction. We could have spent much more time enjoying the scenery with the choughs (birds) flying around us and exploring the timber construction but unfortunately the need to catch the bus brought our visit to an end. Brilliant.

The 2015 Tour Group

The 2015 Tour Group

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Tamedia Headquarters, Stauffacher, Zurich 121015

Wow, wow, wow what a building, I am running out of superlatives.  Yesterday the Expo was rather amazing but today we got to look at a spectacular work place that uses glulam beams for a rather stunning post and beam frame for the Tamedia headquarters. We headed over to Zurich where Martin Antemann of Lehmann Timber Code (Blumer-Lehman AG) provided us with a detailed tour and explanation of the building. I have tried to include some details of the construction in this section as this is a great structure and it is hard to know what to not to discuss.

Tamedia Headquarters

Tamedia Headquarters

Tamedia is a Swiss media group based in Stauffacher in Zurich. Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has designed a unique building consisting of wood and glass that provides a stunning workplaces for the Tamedia employees. Shigeru Ban is well known for using the simplicity of traditional Japanese architecture as the basis for his buildings. He is also well known for his use of recyclable materials in his architecture and design. I am now a big fan. This building is very much about sustainability, with the use of timber and designed for low energy consumption. In total 2,000m3 of spruce wood was used.

Post and beam

Post and beam

 

The origin of the design came from a competition for the new headquarters with the need to conform to local design rules. The design by Shigeru Ban uses no covering or cladding and only the components required to give the required impression. It is a 7-storey building with a very high ground floor to match those of the surrounding buildings.

Post and beam

Post and beam inside the facade

Looking up

Looking up inside the facade

The internal post and beam structure is provided by spruce glulam. The posts are 440mm x 440mm and some 22m in height, with primary double beams being 18m in length. The ceilings are timber framed with sand and mineral wool for insulation, using CLT above and below with gypsum board for extra fire resistance. The floor panels span 5.4m with a depth of 367mm containing all the services and some 3,000 entry and exit points requiring exacting standards for the installation. The timber posts and beams have been left untreated other than a single coat for UV protection to provide a natural look.

 

The unique feature of this building is the rather special connections based on traditional Japanese carpentry. The connections have oval dowels with beech plywood connection plates within to provide reinforcement and coated to prevent moisture ingress. No metal is used in the connection. The contact provided by these plates allows the efficient transfer of load through the joints and the oval shape allows for better angle changes compared with a circle and limits rotation. No glue was used and consequently the elements have self-aligned during construction.

Connection

Connection

Connection

Connection

Connection

Connection

The timber is highly visible throughout the building made from spruce. The trees of the required quality sourced 1 year before production. The timber elements were all prefabricated along with the curtain wall, inner curtain wall and cooling panels, approximately 80% of the build was prefabricated. After CNC milling of the timber elements they were stored for 3 months and wrapped in UV resistant plastic.   Moisture was allowed to migrate in and out, once onsite the wrapping was removed and the timber allowed to equilibrate for a while. Concrete provides the foundations and a core at the back and centre of the building. The double glass and steel facade facing the Sihl river acts as a buffer against climatic conditions as well as a natural ventilation system. Additionally it provides space for meeting rooms. Any additional heating or cooling requirements are provided using a ground-sourced heat pump system.

Construction was performed in a rather unique manner. The first frame was constructed against the back wall of the building, fixed in place and then used as the template for the remaining frame sections. These sections (18 tonnes) were then moved away with cranes (5.4m) and the horizontal bracing beams added along with the ceiling elements. Each frame took 3 days to install and in total 4 cranes were used. This building was all about speed of construction. The entrance hall was a bit more complicated but the whole construction compares well to an IKEA build, albeit an absolutely magnificent one.

Lots of glass and steel were combined in the façade with the timber frame and some problems were encountered with the alignment of the concrete and dust from the metal work.

This is a very pleasant building to be in with comfortable well-lit and spacious offices. The occupants really engage with the building and are taking special care to report any concerns or issues they encounter. Part of the façade facing the river can be raised to allow extra ventilation and the movement of materials in and out of the building.

  • Architects: Shigeru Ban
  • Structural Engineers: Creation Holz GmbH
  • Timber fabrication Blumer-Lehman AG
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Milan Expo 2015 more photos

Thought I would add in a few more photos as the Expo was rather impressive.

Belgium

Belgium

 

Bamboo pillars

Bamboo pillars

Malaysia

Malaysia

Malaysia up close

Malaysia up close

Thailand

Thailand

Just so you get a feel of the numbers attending

Just so you get a feel of the numbers attending

China

China

Inside China

Inside China

Poland

Poland

Poland up close

Poland up close

Estonia

Estonia

Estonia

Estonia

United Nations

United Nations

Green Walls

Green Walls

More Green Walls

More Green Walls

This vertical green veggie and herb garden tracked the sun

This vertical green veggie and herb garden tracked the sun

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Milan Expo 2015 10/111015

EXPO Milan 2015

Background info

Expo 2015 is the current Universal Exposition being hosted by Milan, Italy. The event opened back in May of this year and is planned to close at the end of this month October 2015.   The theme chosen for the Expo is “ Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. This embraces technology, innovation, culture, traditions and creativity and how they relate to food and diet.  The installations reflect growing concerns about the quality of food in the years to come and forecasts of increasing uncertainties regarding the quantities of food that will be available globally.  A rapid depletion of agricultural surpluses has increased the urgency to resolve the problem of how to feed the planet and prevent hunger.

Within the Expo there are seven sub themes:

  • Science for Food Safety, Security and Quality
  • Innovation in the Agro Food Supply Chain
  • Technology for Agriculture and Biodiversity
  • Dietary Education
  • Solidarity and Cooperation on Food
  • Food for Better Lifestyles
  • Food in the World’s Cultures and Ethnic Groups

Each of the 145 participating countries is hosted in a self-built pavilion and is represented on the official website. Key from our perspective was the high use of timber for its strong sustainability credentials and the underlying theme of sustainable resource use linked to feeding the planet.

The timing of our visit aligned with perfect weather but also a public holiday and the impending close of the Expo.   Consequently on both days we attended another 250,000 people turned up to see us……..

The huge crush of humanity limited our ability to visit many installations with queues of 5+ hours being recorded to get into some. It took us an hour to get into the Expo on day 1 but only 40 minutes on day 2 as we arrived well before the event opened.

I can only cover the event in limited detail but it was amazing with so many stunning variations in building design and construction on view. I will start with the simple and move through to the complex.

Facility buildings

One of the buildings that impressed many of us was a common design that housed the independent eating and bathroom facilities. These buildings (photo) appeared to combine Cross Laminate Timber (CLT) and Glulam. The design was was such a simple design but looked really wonderful. The collective view was that this modular design would be ideal for classrooms or local facilities such as surgeries or even shops. Simple to construct but a really flexible design and one that was overlooked by many. This however is the type of simple design that shows the real flexibility and potential of engineered timber construction. I have looked but can’t find any details of the architects or engineers?

Glulam building mezzanine

Glulam building mezzanine

Glulam building

Glulam building

Slow Food Pavilion

The other area that really impressed with elegant but simple constructions was the Slow Food Pavilion. The Architects Herzog and de Meron have created very simple open wooden sheds comprising glulam with beds of herbs and vegetables in a central courtyard. The buildings are wonderful open-air facilities for meetings, presentations and other events. Once again another type of structure that could be used widely across Australia. The pavilion is designed to allow the visitors to discover the significance of agricultural and food biodiversity, to explore the variety of the products that promote biodiversity, and to become aware of the need of adopting new consumption habits

Slow Food Pavilion

Slow Food Pavilion

 

 

 

Slow Food Pavilion

Slow Food Pavilion

Slow Food Pavilion -plant beds

Slow Food Pavilion -plant beds

The Tree of Life

Moving on to the more complex and the centre-piece of the event is the Tree of Life (Architects Marco Balich, Construction by Marssai Sri). This is a meeting point based around a lake arena. The structure stands some 37m high, with a central 2.5m core of steel around which timber spirals. The timber (larch) acts as a façade for a lighting show. The design of the tree is quite amazing and based on Michelangelo’s pattern in the Piazza Del Campidoglio. The pattern has been lifted into a bowl shape to produce a tree appearance. The leaves are held bin place by tensioned steel cables and has a 22.5m span at the top.

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life

 

The French Pavilion

My favourite of the event was the French pavilion with a wonderfully curved larch glulam structure with some CLT flooring used in a very nice French restaurant upstairs. This is intended to showcase the country’s innovations in timber construction, as well as to show off its national food.

The architects Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières of XTU Architects created a building that can become a framework for climbing plants with edible produce. It also incorporates recesses where food products can be hung and presented.

French Pavilion outside

French Pavilion outside

French Pavilion entrance

French Pavilion entrance

Glue-laminated larch and spruce were used to create a strong but lightweight structure of lattice girders and pillars.    The design team clearly used computer modeling to create the wonderful wooden components, which were precisely cut using a digitally controlled robot. The elements all interlock, minimising the need for additional fixings.  The structure was originally developed offsite Italy by Simonin, shipped to site and took 30 people 2 months to join the 1600 laminated pieces of wood. The result is a wonderful structure, punctuated by curved recesses that create a cavernous interior. Inside, different crops, cooking utensils and food products are slotted in between the wooden planes to create what the architects describe as a “landscape ceiling”.

French Pavilion Arch

French Pavilion Arch

The rest of the interior was intended to resemble a typical French covered market and the uppermost level houses a wonderful French restaurant – apparently. The pavilion is described as a granary and barn, cathedral and beehive, innovation lab and experimental hub, land of discovery and classroom all rolled into one.

French Pavilion Inside

French Pavilion Inside

French Pavilion Inside

French Pavilion Inside

We were very privileged to be given a group tour of the French pavilion by Franco Fini of Simonin Italy and Andrea Costa from Xlam Architectures. Thank you.

 

After the Expo the entire structure will be disassembled and then reassembled in Paris. A brilliant piece of timber engineering

 

The Japanese Pavilion

Once again, thank you to Andrea for sneaking us through the queues and describing some of the details of the Japanese Pavilion structure. This is described as a bowl of diversity. The use of the renewable resource of wood for the pavilion connects it to issues of forest maintenance and protection. Forests promote the creation of water rich in nutrients, which is then returned to the land and the seas, stimulating the creation of the diverse food that people eat. The use of trees and lifestyles of people have been closely connected within satoyama (natural woodlands that coexist with a nearby populated area) in Japan since ancient times.

Japan Pavilion block construction

Japan Pavilion block construction

Japan Pavilion block construction

Japan Pavilion block construction

The traditional wooden construction techniques of Japan – epitomized in Horyuji Temple – use “a compressive strain method” in which joints consists only of carved wood, without metal couplers, for support. This results in constructions that are extremely resistant to earthquakes; a kind of building that has sometimes been called “living construction (or life theory construction).” The pavilion, created from a three-dimensional wooden grid, is the first ever to use both traditional construction knowledge about wooden frameworks and modern analysis and application of compressive strain. This is quite an amazing structure..

A brilliant expo – another post with more photos to follow

 

 

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Via Cenni Milan. Wood Solutions 2015 European Tour 101015

During the middle of day 1 we visited the Milan Expo – more about that tomorrow.

Our day culminated in a late afternoon visit to the Via Cenni. This is a set of 4 towers of low rent social / public housing in Milan built largely from CLT apart from having concrete forming the underground car park and the foundations for the towers.

The appearance of these buildings is striking not because they look different or spectacular but because they are cared for, clean, no graffiti and with public areas including gardens and trees. The residents interested in our visit came out to look and chat with their neighbours. This is a community and talking with one of the residents we found a genuine passion for their wooden construction, the comfort including the thermal comfort of their apartments. This is a great advertisement for well designed living spaces using timber as one of the elements of the overall environment.

Via Cenni Tower

Via Cenni Tower

A detailed explanation of the construction was provided by Dr. Andrea Bernasconi the Professor for timber technology and construction at the University of applied sciences Western Switzerland. Thank you.

Via Cenni public area

Via Cenni public area

The four towers and buildings provide 124 affordable apartments. Built with the community in mind, there is a focus on green space and local facilities include services such as community laundries, green spaces, childcare, play grounds and a basketball court.

 

The structure is made out of cross laminated timber, reaching heights of 27 meters. All the walls, floor, lift shafts and staircases are made of CLT. With a floor span 6.7m, the panels comprised 7 ply- 230mm CLT, with self-tapping screws used to connect the walls to the floors. The CLT panels are 2.95m high by 16m long. For weather protection, a PVC film was used during the construction. The exterior façade has used non-combustible stucco cladding and gypsum board covers all exposed timber on the interior with the exception of some ceilings in public areas.

The Via Cenniis in the Milan earthquake region, so the 9 storey structure has been carefully designed to with stand earthquakes. This has been achieved by load transfer through the structure where it terminates with attachments to the ground concrete foundation. The project was 5-10% cheaper than alternative materials. No sprinklers were used in the project rather fire protection was provided through the addition of two layers of plasterboard. CLT was even used for the lift shafts, with a total of 6,100m3 of CLT, along with a bit of glulam and some steel beams.

Via Cenni Street View

Via Cenni Street View

It only took 6 months to construct the 4 towers, with 2 erection teams working on either side with a crew of between 6-10 workers. A total of 600,000 screws were used in the project.

 

Adjacent to the site is the original farmhouse of the area which is now being renovated/ rebuilt/ restored as one of the conditions of the construction of the apartments. A very impressive build and a great community feel.

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Arese Shopping Centre, Milan. Wood Solutions 2015 European tour 101015

This blog is about timber and wood and the buildings and construction on the Wood Solutions 2015 European Tour from Milan to Vienna.

Milan Day 1

What a day, absolutely exhausted. The day kicked off with an early departure of the 21 participants of the tour. Our first stop was to the Arese Shopping Centre, currently under development on the site of the old Alfa Romeo Factory in Milan, once the home of more than 40,000 workers. This will be the largest shopping centre built in one single phase in Italy covering 92,000m2 and boasting over 200 shops, cafés, restaurants, outdoor as well as indoor sport, cultural and health facilities.  With nothing open no time was wasted on shopping

The outside of Arese Shopping Centre

The outside of Arese Shopping Centre

The centre will eventually attract visitors from across North Milan, the Lakes and Switzerland, with more than 8 million people within a one hour radius. The Ares centre is based on a street plan with indoor buildings, indoor and outdoor squares, porticos, gates and gardens. Along with real trees, a range of plazas with their own identities, a ramp resembling that of the Guggenheim in New York City and a roof supported by one of the largest glulam structures in Europe, the Arese Shopping Centre is also touted as the most sustainable large scale shopping centre ever designed in Italy.

The site will use some 5,000m2 of Glulam timber across the centre, along with concrete and steel, very much a hybrid construction. The timber covers the larger spans mixed with the ceiling cassettes and panels. Inside it is spruce with the beams constructed of 4cm lamellae producing 2m high beams each some 24m long. The timber constructions are made to withstand 90 minutes of fire before failing. Being built in a seismic zone the connections include a neoprene layer to allow for movement. The design using timber allowed for a rapid 12 month construction time starting in August 2014, we arrived to see the finishing touches being made to the structure. This was done by 8 teams and a total of 32 people. Each day some 40 trucks arrived with concrete, timber and other materials.

The piece de resistance is the entrance hall, in the centre it is 23m high with the longest span being 56m (the same as the Pantheon in Rome). Columns have tolerance of 5mm to allow them to fit so accurately. Inside the centre of the entrance hall is a steel ring, which locks all the other pieces together. Each of the six triangles was formed on the ground and then lifted in to place. The individual triangles weigh 25tonnes (wow) and each took one working day to install. All went well with the installation and when the scaffolding was removed the structure settled 7cm down, less than predicted.

The entrance hall

The entrance hall

The entrance hall 2

The entrance hall

The entrance hall 3

The entrance hall

Across the south side of the building are a series of louvres, each 2.5m wide and some 10m in length. Within the mall the timber has been combined with a polycarbonate cover, which has been fitted very accurately to show no joins. One additional benefit of using the polycarbonate is that the panels filter the light to reduce heat penetration and modify the internal temperature of the centre. Once again the beams are assembled on the ground and lifted into place. Every beam was installed differently as none were the same. The shortest being 26m and the longest 42m.

Louvres

Louvres

Glulam ceiling showing polycarbonate sheeting

Glulam ceiling showing polycarbonate sheeting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ceiling side joints

Ceiling side joints

At the point where the galleries and the entrance joined the installation took 2 weeks with the need for extra seismic resistance where the two systems combined. At points seismic monitors will be installed to keep a watch- on the building and any movement.

Ninety degree turn

Ninety degree turn

One of the hardest points and the final piece was where there is a 90-degree turn, this is where the clockwise and anticlockwise installation teams met. With the need for seismic resistance and beams weighing 55tonnes, requiring an expensive crane hire this had to be done perfectly.

A brilliant building demonstrating the use of timber (glulam) along with other materials in a spectacularly well engineered design. Rather impressive.

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Dalston Lane Apartments CLT Construction 081015

Today I started my European trip a bit early by visiting a new development in the London Borough of Hackney. The Dalston Lane site is a development of social housing using CLT as the principle construction material on a concrete base. Only early on in the construction  it only has  couple of layers of CLT in place on one part of the site, however once completed it will be an impressive timber building.

Dalston Lane - 2 storeys constructed so far

Dalston Lane – 2 storeys constructed so far

 

The developers state that when completed, Dalston Lane will be the tallest residential CLT building in the world. Nine storeys of CLT structure sit on a first floor concrete podium slab, reportedly reaching a height 0.5m higher than Forte Melbourne (32.17m).  However, how long this record stands is another question.  The construction combines a diverse team; B&K Structures (specialist timber constructions), Ramboll (structural design), Waugh Thistleton Architects, XCO2, PJCE and Regal Homes.

CLT Service Shaft

CLT Service Shaft

Dalston Lane is a 121 unit residential development in Hackney, UK. Estimates show that it will use more timber than any other scheme in the world, making it, by volume, the largest Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) project globally.

The use of CLT boasts many benefits, not least its sustainability. In total Dalston Lane will save 2,400 tonnes of carbon, compared to an equivalent development using a concrete structure. By using CLT construction, the embodied carbon is 2.5 times less than that of an equivalent concrete frame. Taking into account that timber stores carbon by sequestering carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, the structure can be regarded as ‘carbon negative’. Its 3,852 cubic metres of CLT will make up the external, party and core walls, floors and stairs.

Construction

Construction

Dalston Lane will join a number of other timber buildings in the area thanks to The London borough of Hackney’s ‘timber first’ policy established in 2012, making this central London borough a world leader for timber construction.

A big thanks to Nick at B&K structures for organising the visit.

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