Read an interview with Duncan Horswill from Rambøll about wood, acoustics, fire regulations and the project Kromet

Trees are like nature’s answer to high-rise buildings

Duncan Horswill is Design Director at Rambøll and he is giving a talk at Build in Wood 18-19 May, where he will describe the Kromet project in Sweden which uses timber construction on a large scale.

In the presentation, he will demonstrate the techniques used to explore and evaluate various structural options as well as the use of evidence-based design to develop code compliant details for fire and acoustics. You can read an interview with Duncan Horswill in this article.

How do you and your company work with wood? 

Ramboll has over 15 years of experience of designing timber structures. This is especially true in the UK where we have designed and built over 50 timber buildings using over 25,000 m3 of timber, but more recently we have secured large scale timber projects in other parts of the world. Usually, we work together with architects from day one to develop the architectural concept, but we also work for contractors to make the construction details.

What do you like about wood as a building material? 

Timber is the only mainstream construction material that can be grown. Trees are like nature’s answer to high-rise buildings. They grow tall to capture energy from the sun and in doing so display many of the structural attributes that we need as engineers to design buildings. Timber is also the construction material best suited to solving the biggest challenge of our time – climate change.

In your opinion, what are the biggest dilemmas within wood construction right now?

We are currently in a transition period where traditional construction materials like steel and concrete are being replaced by more sustainable technologies like timber. At the same time, our building regulations have not adapted to take advantage of the sustainable benefits of timber. Therefore, as designers, we find ourselves in the unusual position of having to use old technologies to comply with the regulations which does not necessarily give the most sustainable solution.

What are the constructional possibilities and challenges of wood as a building material?  

Wood is not just a great structural material. It also contributes as much towards the mental health and wellbeing of the user as natural daylight, generous floor to ceiling heights, fresh air and views. The challenge with timber is that to get the full potential of these health benefits it needs to be visible which is difficult when most of the ceiling area needs to be covered to fulfil the requirements for fire and acoustics.

What do you talk about at Build in Wood?

At Build in Wood, I will talk about the techniques used to explore and evaluate various structural options as well as the use of evidence-based design to develop code compliant details for fire and acoustics. I hope that the participants will gain some further insight into what governs the design of timber structures and how we as engineers can help influence the regulations that currently limit the possibilities of timber architecture.

Do you want to hear more about wood and the Kromet project?

Hear Duncan Horswill’s presentation at Build in Wood 18-19 May. Read more about the event here and sign up here.

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