Does wood cut it? The pros and cons of CLT structures

July 2017

Words by Tony Whitehead

Treet apartment block in Bergen, Norway by the water- Exterior view facade
The 49m-high Treet apartment block in Bergen, Norway, was completed in 2015 and is one of the tallest CLT structures in the world. Photo: David Vallderby

In CLT’s favour…

+  Lighter structures save on foundations

+  Quick and easy to handle on site

+  Suitable for extending existing buildings within minimal modification

+  Smaller carbon footprint than steel or concrete

+  Sequesters carbon

Performs well in earthquakes

Structural performance is increasingly predictable

+  Locally available in many world regions

+  A popular “eco-aesthetic”

+  Easily prefabricated and well-suited to modular construction

From The Possible, issue 02

Read the magazine

… And against

  It may be necessary to add mass to help with thermal performance

  … and acoustic performance

  Requires a reliable and sustainable source

–  rare outside Europe and North America

  Not as carbon-friendly as might first appear

  Yet to be proven above 18 storeys

  The structure must be kept dry to prevent rot

  Clients are sceptical of performance in fire

–  Shortage of design and construction expertise


This article appeared in The Possible issue 02, as part of a longer feature on advances in construction materials


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One comment on “Does wood cut it? The pros and cons of CLT structures

  1. Levi Armstrong on

    It’s great that you mentioned that one of the benefits of timber structures is they have a smaller carbon footprint than their counterparts, making them eco-friendly. Our small town plans on having a bridge built over one of the rivers in our locality.

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