Wooden buildings – a revolution in the construction market ?

Wooden buildings - a revolution in the construction market ?

Ten post dostępny jest także w języku: polski

Although wooden buildings are very popular in Western European countries, such as Germany, Austria, or France, in Poland they are still being built in quite small numbers, because they constitute only 2% of all houses built. Annually it is about 900-950 new year-round wooden houses, which are built using timber frame technology. However, the amendment of the Polish construction law and changes in the industry give hope for the development of the wooden house market in Poland, while at the same time, the new technologies also allow for the construction of multi-story buildings primarily from wood.

Multi-storey buildings based on timber construction are not a rarity, but a promising technology already in use today. Currently, the tallest skyscraper made of wood has 30 floors and is located in Vancouver, Canada. This is thanks to new technologies, such as cross-laminated timber CLT. In this way, large-format panels are obtained, suitable for ceilings, load-bearing and partition walls. Other examples include Hamburg’s HafenCity – Germany’s tallest building with a height of 65 meters and 128 apartments is currently being completed; Berlin’s Tegel district – a development with about 5,000 apartments (mainly of wood) for more than 10,000 people will be built; Brumunddal, Norway – Mjostarnet, a wooden building more than 85 meters high, opened in 2019; Eindhoven, the Netherlands – a skyscraper is being built that will connect two parts of the city.

Innovative wood composites have converted a historic construction material into a state-of-the-art structural building block during the last few decades. As a tough and durable material with a wide variety of uses, Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) technology offers various advantages. CLT is monolithic, meaning it is made out of only one piece of wood and contains only 0.6 percent ecological glue. The final product can handle high loads and strain in many directions, is fire resistant, and provides good thermal and acoustic insulation. It maintains a comfortable and balanced environment within the building, whether in the summer and the winter. Because CLT is a lightweight building material, it does not necessitate as strong foundations, and the cranes used on the project site are smaller than those necessary to lift larger reinforced concrete structures. These characteristics also allow CLT buildings to be constructed in regions that would normally be inaccessible to larger projects.

Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, and Norway are now the top European markets for Cross Laminated Timber products.

What about Poland?

CLT technology has also made its way to Poland. Two years ago, the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management and Bank Ochrony Srodowiska founded Polskie Domy Drewniane (PDD), a development company that constructs energy-efficient residential and commercial buildings using wood technology, utilizing the domestic potential of the wood and construction industries. Its purpose is to provide affordable housing that is long-lasting, healthful, environmentally friendly, and energy-efficient.

After pioneering single-family housing investments, the first public-sector investments began to appear

A project run by the State Forests in Gdynia’s Botanical Garden is an excellent example. The supplier of the whole construction is OMFO company – an exclusive representative of KLH company in Poland. The object made of cross-glued wood is to be put into use next year. The investment will expand the services provided by the Forest Botanical Garden “Marszewo.” It will feature two stories and a total useable space of 321m2. This area will have a public exhibition hall, an information desk, a visitor integration room, and administrative offices, among other things. Objects are separated into two wings, each with a link connecting them. Another example is a timber Breath-In Hotel, now being erected in Lodz. The architects’ goal is to develop a wooden structure that matches the current architecture of the neighborhood while also incorporating innovative aesthetic solutions for the future.

Favorable law for wooden construction in Poland?

The amendment to the law, which will allow the construction of houses up to 70 m2 in size without the need for a permit, may contribute to changes in the wooden construction industry. The legal facilitation will be associated with an increased interest in rapid construction, which is based on prefabrication or modules. It is expected that in the future, the number of timber houses handed over will increase up to three times.

Changes to the building law will mean that from 2 January 2022, the size of houses that can be built without planning permission will increase from 35 m2 to 70 m2. Those who decide to build such a house will therefore be able to avoid the complicated process of obtaining a permit by using the construction notification option. This will also make it possible not to involve a construction manager. Such legal facilitation may contribute to increased interest in wooden houses, which have not been very popular in Poland so far. Currently, approximately 950 wooden houses are built per year, but representatives of the industry expect that this number will increase to approximately 2,500 buildings per year soon.

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