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A forest of possibilities

Building with wood is a great idea. Tor Øistein Andresen, head of Sweco’s timber department, is well acquainted with the benefits.

With a focus on sustainability, increasing urbanization, and growing pressure on land and space, timber has become a building material that suits the development. New innovations also make the material increasingly efficient and cost-effective.

However, the key to success in timber projects, from start to finish, lies in expertise and design experience. Tor Øistein has extensive experience in various types of construction projects, but in recent years, the engineer has been involved in an increasing number of timber projects.

“To create sustainable cities and communities in the future, we need to invest in using wood as a key building material. In fact, wood is stronger than both concrete and steel in relation to its own weight. Moreover, it is easy to shape and cut. Modern production techniques make it efficient to manufacture and prefabricate. Wood is also readily available and locally sourced, especially here in Norway”, says Tor Øistein.

Traditionally, wood has been used in smaller buildings such as agricultural structures, single-family homes, and low-rise buildings. However, with new regulations and the development of glued laminated timber (glulam), cross-laminated timber (CLT) and connections, it has become more interesting to build high-rise buildings with wood.

“In countries like Denmark, the Netherlands, and Belgium, there will be significant construction developments in the coming years, and authorities are demanding sustainable buildings. In the Netherlands, for example, there are plans to build one million new sustainable homes over the next ten years, and building with wood is a prerequisite for realizing this goal. This is something we discuss with our colleagues in the Netherlands”, says Tor Øistein.

However, building with wood is not only renewable and environmentally friendly. In addition to growing naturally in the forest, having a low weight, being malleable, efficient to manufacture, and contributing to shorter construction and assembly times, wood also has a positive impact on indoor climate.

“It is advantageous to use wood in all types of buildings and heated areas where the design allows it. For example, we have had good experiences with using wood in school buildings and kindergartens. While we still rely on steel and concrete for foundations, wood is well-suited for the structural system, walls, and floors – and last but not least, wood offers both aesthetic appeal and a contemporary look”, says Tor Øistein.