Mjøstårnet: World’s tallest timber building symbolises “green shift” to carbon-absorbing sustainable design

Brumunddal in forest-rich Norway is a rural town with a major forestry and wood processing industry, which now boasts the world’s tallest timber building – the 85.4m high Mjøstårnet (The Mjøsa Tower).

The 18-storey mixed-use building, which overlooks Lake Mjøsa in Brumunddal, contains apartments, the Wood Hotel, swimming pool, office space, and a restaurant.

Opened last year, Mjøstårnet is built entirely out of engineered wood or mass timber, apart from the decks on the upper floors which utilise concrete to prevent swaying.

Timber specialist Moelven Limitre installed the building’s timber structure, including elevator shafts made entirely from cross-laminated timber, and columns made from glued laminated timber (glulam). Glulam is made from wood that is planed then glued together to form columns or beams, and can be used in the place of concrete or steel elements.

In countries like Norway and Canada where trees are plentiful, the energy used to process, produce and transport the timber is actually lower than concrete and steel.

The lakeside tower contains 32 self-catering apartments, five floors with office space and the hotel with its 72 hotel rooms, restaurant and conference rooms. In addition, there is a large swimming pool attached to the hotel.

Mjøstårnet is a symbol of the new “green shift” showing that tall buildings can be built using local resources, local suppliers and sustainable wooden materials. Using timber means the carbon absorbed from the atmosphere by the trees is locked into the structure permanently.

Designed by Voll Arkitekter with fire safety in mind, the wooden building has a 90-minute fire resistance capability, which when exposed to fire, the untreated, solid wood chars on the outside and provides its own fire-resistant surface.

Proving that massive structures can be produced using sustainable materials without compromising quality, Mjøstårnet’s designers hope the the tower will inspire other architects to build using sustainable materials such as wood. While Moelven hopes that Mjøstårnet will inspire more climate-friendly buildings and building practices.

Morten Kristiansen, CEO of Moelven Industrier ASA, said: “We want to create a sustainable future using wood. Moelven is harvesting a renewable resource, and for every tree that is cut down, at least two new ones are planted. The Mjøstårnet project is yet another proof of what is possible to build with timber, and we hope that this building will inspire others to choose more sustainable and climate-friendly solutions in the years to come.”

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

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