6 Storey Wood Frame - 1.indd

six in wood design
a series on the evolution of 6 storey wood frame buildings
Wood framed mid-rise buildings offer new opportunities for
residential development, as the architectural community
responds with several of the first 6 storey buildings in
A series of variables are working together to create favourable conditions for wood mid-rise buildings,
including a limited supply of developable land, rising land costs, tighter construction budgets and schedules,
as well as a growing interest in the use of sustainable materials. The trend is moving towards smaller projects
that are quicker to design, approve, and build, and have the added benefit of being more easily phased and
financed. The relatively low cost of wood and availability of an increasing range of engineered wood products
in British Columbia are also contributing factors.
The lower mainland of British Columbia is seeing the first of a series of projects to take advantage of the
recent code changes, namely Richmond, Surrey and Langley. These urbanizing municipalities are well
positioned for mid-rise developments that offer increased density as well as a variety in the range of housing
options, while still maintaining affordability. As these municipalities densify, mid-rise will play an increasingly
important role in making better use of land, accommodating growth, and creating more transit-oriented and
urban centres.
It is clear, however, that these buildings are not simply 4 storey wood-framed buildings with an additional 2
floors. The technical and structural challenges have required a return to first principles. Every aspect of the
design, massing, and detailing has required careful review and consideration. Limitations on shear wall height,
and requirements for non-combustible cladding are a few elements that have resulted in buildings that are
more urban in character. They have the potential to create very vibrant, liveable neighbourhoods with a more
human scale.
The advent of 6 storey wood frame buildings represents an opportunity to build better sustainable
neighbourhoods, and the industry’s experience of meeting the technical challenges will result in better quality
wood buildings at any height.
Patrick Cotter Architect Inc. chronicles their experience in the design and construction of three of the first 6
storey wood-frame buildings in Canada. Visit www.cotterarchitects.com for future installments focussing
on the technical and structural challenges, approvals, construction, and detailed project information.