World’s largest Cross-Laminated Timber apartment complex

by Lloyd Alter (@lloydalter)

Arbora exterior

© Arbora

Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) is one of our favorite materials; it’s made from a renewable resource, it sequesters Carbon Dioxide, it’s lighter than concrete and it’s lovely to look at. What’s not to love? In most of the CLT projects so far its use has been downplayed, thanks to the effectiveness of the concrete and steel people who try and convince people that it is not as good as concrete. That’s why this new project in Montreal is so interesting: It accentuates the positive, the virtues of wood construction. Even its name, Arbora, alludes to wood.

courtyard © Arbora courtyard

It’s also big. The Arbora project in Montreal is claimed to be the largest residential CLT project in the world, made up of 434 condo, townhouse and rental units in three eight storey buildings, all made from sustainably harvested wood turned into panels by Nordic CLT. It’s designed by Lemay+CHA.

lobby© Arbora/ lobby with wood columns

But what I really like is the fact that they are really building on the strengths of wood instead of trying to hide it. The developers, in their marketing, discuss the renewable aspects of wood construction, the strength and weight advantages, the thermal and fire resistance, the accuracy:

Prefabricated panels cut to the required dimensions are delivered to the site, and the openings for doors and windows are cut to an accuracy of one tenth of a millimeter using computer numerical control (CNC) precision machinery. Everything is planned and organized so the building can be erected quickly.

Arobora interior© Arbora/ Interior rendering

But also, the health and aesthetics:

Did you know that the presence of wood indoors promotes better health for a building’s occupants? In addition to knowing that they live in a home built with a renewable material, urbanites can now comfortably enjoy wood’s pleasant surface temperature and its ability to temper sudden changes in temperature and humidity. Not to mention the character that the majestic wood posts and beams add to the interior of their condominiums.


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