Here’s a new look at one of the oldest construction materials there is. Wood. Plywood, to be precise. Today, on Engineering Works!
People have been building things with wood longer than any other material except stone. We still do. If you’re sitting at home, the chances are pretty good that you’re surrounded by wood. Most residential buildings, single-family houses and apartment buildings, are built mostly of wood.
Engineers and architects are coming up with new ways to use wood to build structures that are bigger, taller and stronger than before. Consider this: a nine-story apartment building in London is wood from the second floor up. It’s one of the tallest wooden residential structures in the world.
Its upper stories are built from what’s called cross-laminated-timber, or CLT. CLT is like plywood on steroids. Imagine sheets of plywood 30-feet-long and 6-inches-thick. Strong. Just about every part of the building is built from CL T. Even elevator shafts and stairwells. It’s solid stuff. In fact, an 8-foot wall built with CLT has about six times as much wood as one built with conventional two-by-four studs.
Builders use a lot of CLT in Europe, but it hasn’t caught on yet in the United States. So far, only one US company is building CLT buildings.
Building with CLT brings an interesting environmental benefit, too. All that wood locks up a lot of carbon dioxide.
We like our old-fashioned wood house just fine, and we’re headed there now. See you next time.
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Start the discussion: Cross-laminated timbers sound to us like a great way to build lots of things. You get a lot of the strength and durability of steel, without the weight and environmental baggage. Has anybody seen any CLT buildings? If you have, let us know.