Gerhard Schickhofer was awarded the 2019 Marcus Wallenberg Prize for research behind the eco-friendly material known as cross-laminated timber (CLT).
Strong and stable elements
CLT comprises several layers of solid wood laminations glued together crosswise, measuring a length of up to 20 metres, a width of four metres and a thickness desired for every purpose. The elements are stable and load-bearing. They are also easy to process, shape and curve using modern manufacturing technologies. All these qualities have made wooden skyscrapers possible.
Many projects around the world are competing in constructing the world’s tallest buildings in wood. Brock Commons, an 18-storey student residence in Vancouver, Canada, has kept the lead after its completion in 2017.
Gerhard Schickhofer and his research team at the Institute of Timber Engineering and Wood Technology at Graz University of Technology, Austria, have played a leading role in establishing European standards and Technical Approvals for CLT production and use in industrial applications of wood construction.
CLT has radically transformed the view on construction and design in the wood building industry. Its laminar structure allows applications as full-size walls and floor elements as well as linear timber elements which can bear heavy loads.
Pre-fabrication of different modules at the factory makes the assembly time on the building site shorter.
Conifers such as spruce, larch or pine, but also deciduous species such as birch, ash and beech, can be used in the engineered panels. Since the layers of solid wood are glued together longitudinally and transversely, the elements are less affected by changes in dimension due to humidity fluctuation.
Buildings made of CLT are characterised by slender wall constructions and high load-bearing capacity. They provide excellent performance with regards to fire safety and impact of earthquakes.
CLT preserves the environment due to its ability to store carbon dioxide. It is a great substitute for concrete and steel as building material, which result in large carbon dioxide emissions when produced.
Image courtesy of the Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.