Over the past few years, timber has become a more widely used material in tall buildings–and from Canada to Japan, architects are pushing the material further and further into the sky. Mjøstårnet, an 18-story project being built in Brumunddal, about 90 minutes north of Oslo, is the latest all-wood high-rise to compete for the record of world’s tallest.
In a five-part micro-documentary produced by Moelven, the Scandinavian construction company behind the project, we get a glimpse at the building project.
At 265 feet tall, the structure is a fascinating piece of engineering for its anti-fire features alone. Up until 1997, Norway had legally prohibited large timber buildings over three stories after a terrible fire consumed the city of Ålesund in the early 1900s.
Yet the construction company claims its building is one of the safest in Norway, thanks to the use of glulam–or glued laminated timber. According to Even Andersen, a fire expert for the engineering consultancy firm Sweco Norge AS that oversaw the project, glulam beams don’t burn. They develop a lawyer of charcoal that stops the fire, keeping their structural integrity intact. “The glulam structures have such huge dimensions that they retain their load-bearing ability in the event of a burnout fire,” he writes. (Though, since we’ve seen much taller skyscrapers made of fire-resistant materials collapse in the past; let’s hope this feature is never tested in real life.)
The company is also taking an unusual approach to the building’s construction, which will happen in five stages without any external scaffolding–just one large crane and internal scaffolding.
The company assembles the glulam structural beams and columns on the ground, then fixes them in place via crane. Only then are floor slabs added, and after that, the external facade. Finally, the building systems–like electrical and plumbing–are added to finish each floor. Once the company has finished this process for four floors, it moves on to the next four.
The building will reach completion in the spring of 2019. If all goes as planned, it will beat out the current holder of the title, the 173-foot timber dorm in Vancouver, by almost 100 feet.