Innovation That Matters

The Tallhouse building system features modular components | Photo source Generate Technologies

A digital library of building systems to cut carbon emissions

Property & Construction

A collaborative project has created a catalogue of building designs to make taller timber construction cheaper, faster and easier

Spotted: Beginning in 2021, new US construction codes, dubbed the Tallwood Codes, will allow timber buildings to be constructed up to 18 storeys in height. In response, a coalition of seven American and British engineering and design firms have teamed up to create Tallhouse, a catalogue of standardised, mass-timber and steel structural elements for use in high-density urban housing.

The project is led by Boston-based design firm Generate, and is aimed at speeding up the adoption of large timber buildings, by making it easier to incorporate timber building techniques. This also includes calculating the amount of carbon that can be saved by adopting different structural options. The project was designed for cities like Boston, which face a growing housing shortage, along with tough emissions targets.

The systems included in the catalogue are each designed as a modular kit of parts that are compatible with US, Canadian and EU regulations and logistics requirements. The initial catalogue includes a steel and cross-laminated timber (CLT) structure; a mass timber post, beam and plate structure; a light-gauge metal and CLT structure; and a full CLT plate honeycomb structure. Each structure includes a prefabricated, panelised exterior wall system, modular bathrooms and kitchens, and prefabricated mechanical, electrical and plumbing assemblies.

Although standardised, the Tallhouse components also allow for some customisation. Generate CEO John Klein said that the Tallhouse catalogue was developed, “with the specific intent of at once enabling our cities to achieve their ambitious CO2 footprint reduction goals and to meet the growing demand for affordable, biophilic housing. We trust these systems will be widely accessible to architectural communities globally, and serve as a vehicle to deploy sustainable materials at scale.”

There is a growing demand for sustainable building that is being driven in part by the desire to halt global warming, and in part by the realisation that sustainable buildings are often cheaper to heat, cool, maintain and build. At Springwise, we have seen a huge growth in the number of innovative designs for sustainable building. Some of these, such as modular houses constructed from recycled plastic, focus on materials; while others, like the “Treehouse School“, focus on incorporating sustainable features into flexible designs.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

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