World’s first building made from hardwood CLT

Materials World magazine
1 Aug 2017

First used publicly in 2013, American tulipwood cross-laminated timber has been used to build a cancer support centre in Oldham, UK.

Maggie’s Oldham, UK, is the world’s first building made from hardwood cross-laminated timber (CLT). Located at specialist NHS cancer hospitals, Maggie’s Centres provide professional support to people living with cancer. Maggie’s Oldham, situated in the grounds of the Royal Oldham Hospital, is the 21st Centre to open. 

CLT is a prefabricated wood panel, consisting of several sheets of timber layered in alternating directions to increase strength. The 27.6m3 of American tulipwood and 1.1m3 of American ash that make up Maggie’s are equivalent to 55.22m3 and 2.1m3, respectively, of sawn wood prior to processing.

Growing in all 33 of the US States that host hardwoods, tulipwood is the fourth-most abundant timber in US hardwood forests. With the speed of growth greater than the level of harvesting, tulipwood is also under-exploited. It is fast-growing, naturally reseeds and is a carbon store – at the point of fabrication, having been felled, dried and transported, the tulipwood was calculated to store more CO2 than its processing and transportation had generated. 

Around 70% stronger in bending than typical CLT-grade softwood, American tulipwood CLT is also light and sustainable. Planet Ark’s report, Wood Housing, Health and Humanity 2015, is one of several recent studies reporting measureable health and wellbeing benefits of wood in the built environment.

Professor Alex de Rijke, co-founder of dRMM Architects, UK, the company behind Maggie’s Oldham, commented, ‘The applications for sustainably grown hardwood, particularly fast-growing tulipwood CLT, are endless. The environmental, structural and visual qualities are demonstrated explicitly at dRMM’s Maggie’s – a manifesto for wood as the natural choice for contemporary architecture and psychological wellbeing.’ CLT specialist Züblin Timber, Germany, developed the structural CLT panels for Maggie’s Oldham.