The tallest timber framed tower in the world (just now).
Treet or Tree in Norwegian is a 14 storey apartment block in central Bergen. At 49 meters its the tallest timber framed building in the world, although there are a few on the drawing board that if built would dwarf it.
The higher cost of the structure in wood as opposed to concrete and steel was able to be offset by the quicker and easier erection time, four storeys per 3 days and it also meets passive house standards. The building was erected in modules of 4 the already completed apartments slotted into the wooden framework as it was erected.
The exposed glulam structure front and back really makes this project, instead of hiding the structure at the ends they are on front and back elevations infront of the glazed balconies providing a striking feature for the building and also for the inhabitants of the tower.
I have been a fan of Heikkinen and Komonen Architects for a while. As one of the few Finnish practices with an International profile, they practice a form of Finnish Rationalism in which clear forms and grids are often juxtaposed in compositions betraying a deep understanding of the program. Their ability to create forms and describe them with clear structures that are simultaneously modern are not at all cold.
The Centre for Systems Biology in Dresden finished in 2017 is a beautiful study in a three dimensional grid in which objects are offset within producing deep, comprehensible, and poetic spaces, even accounting for the fact the building is a laboratory. It follows their Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, also designed by them in 2001 also in Dresden.
Always it’s nice to see a clear idea translated so directly to a building under by Snøhetta is such a project. Located on the Southern tip of Norway in the village of Båly it is a concept restaurant that plunges under the water to put the diners almost literally into the sea, making it Europes first underwater restaurant and with 100 seats the worlds biggest one.
Last week the Architects corner of the internet was lit up1 by BIG’s latest design The Lego House, a lego experience center near LEGO HQ in Billund Denmark. But the building is just the latest link in a chain which joins Lego and Architecture together.
In 1949 Ole Kirk Christiansen with his company LEGO started manufacturing Automatic Binding Bricks what we would all recognise today as the Lego brick the only difference being a slot in the sides for windows and doors and the absence of the hollow tubes in the undersides that would be added in 1958. The first sets were focused on building Architectural structures.
Over the years as Lego expanded as a business and a brand it has inspired many Architects as children, it’s also been used directly as a design tool, Jørn Utzon used lego bricks to help him lay out the design of his last building the Utzon Centre as sketching had become harder for him in his old age.2
Again at the start of this century lego rediscovered it’s Architectural roots, Adam Reed Tucker pitched an idea to Lego to release sets of world landmarks. Lego supported him in setting up his company brickstructures and themselves started a range of Architectural classics at architecture.lego. This all came together with the increasing diversification and mediatisation3 of Lego their ‘system of play’ giving way to the ‘narrativization’ of their ranges. From plain bricks where you must construct the models and the stories yourself, increasingly lego systems come with a ‘world’ built in, whether its Lego Star Wars or Hero Factory. They have also embraced newer ways to play and experiment with the lego system. You can download software and design in 3d anything you want, then order the pieces to be delivered or reprogram their hackable robotic bricks Mindstorms.
BIG is a good fit for Lego having used it in their models for exhibitions before, Bjarke Ingels even has his own lego persona. Also BIG understand the requirements of a project like this to extend beyond the plain numbers of the program to embody lego both into the Architecture and for the visitors to the building. The projects composition allows you to be below, above and within the Lego block inspired design. It is an easily quoteable building and it will itself become a link in a lego chain brand that projects lego into galaxies further and further away.
I can’t find corroboration for this except for my memory of a lecture about Utzon I attended. But it rings true to his way of working ‘Utzon rarely used a sketchbook, but would draw on anything that was available. He drew the initial plan for an art museum at Silkeborg, in Denmark, with poured salt on a restaurant table in Sydney, which he then photographed with a borrowed camera. The design was based on Buddhist caves he had visited near the Gobi Desert, but the museum was never built. Another friend recalled Utzon using a charred stick on a pavement to sketch the cross-section of a cave-room he had seen in China, which was to form the basis for his design for a new house; sadly the sketch was washed away by a thunderstorm that same night.’ The Telegraph. [↩]