Mass timber makes sense as a construction material in many situations due to its carbon sequestration properties, lightness, toughness, and aesthetic qualities. Interest in timber has risen sharply in the building industry as a new set of engineered systems has become available in the building supply chain, and research has become available that qualifies timber for more uses.
Within the field of building design approaches to mass-timber vary widely, as does the quality of expertise. Because it is an emerging field, there is not yet a standard approach to constructive systems or details, and so what is considered impossible by some can be capably handled by others. It is standard practice with most midrise timber buildings to use concrete or steel cores instead of timber due to the capabilities of engineers to model the structural systems.
By contrast, Schmidt Hammer Lassen is designing a 100m tall timber tower, projected to be the world’s tallest, using a mass timber load-bearing structure. Timber can be a tougher, lighter, safer, and more resilient material than steel or concrete when the intrinsic qualities of the material are used to the best effect. This can not be done by substituting one material for another. A timber design needs to be the goal from day one.