Challenges in Mass Timber Buildings

Laurane de Gendre
Transport Planner
AECOM, Sydney

The global construction industry is in a transition phase. Increased awareness of climate change among governments and organizations is compounded by a worsening shortage of labor that will become aggravated once the baby boomer generation starts retiring. Running parallel with these trends is an unprecedented scale of investment into all stages of the supply chain for mass timber, further disrupting the industry.

The standardization of technology is the result of a maturing industry. Standardized structural fasteners are a success factor for mass timber technology accessibility, safety, efficiency of construction processes and competitiveness among current dominant building methods. Current concepts in structural engineering as well as current trends are assessed, including rigid connection designs as compared with more ductile ones, panel connection systems, glued connections and line-connection systems, and point-supported flat slabs. The limitations of post-inserted concrete anchors and how to overcome them are also discussed. The European heavy timber industry is by some estimates five times bigger than the rest of the world combined, however there is room for strategic input on how this will coalesce with international building code requirements.

The age of the modern timber connectors began in the 90s with the widespread deployment of self-tapping screws and the invention of various forms of engineered timber beams and panels. Since then the variety of fasteners has continued to expand, and design concepts are continuously being developed and refined.

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