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 Canada. 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.
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