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MIT Designs Mass Timber Prototype Building

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

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A class at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has set out to showcase the benefits of mass timber construction by developing a prototype that will be presented this October at the Maine Mass Timber Conference.

Images: MIT Mass Timber Design

A class at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has set out to showcase the benefits of mass timber construction by developing a prototype that will be presented this October at the Maine Mass Timber Conference.

The team, led by John Klein, a research scientist in MIT’s architecture department, developed “The Longhouse” with the hopes of adapting one of the oldest structure types into a modern, sustainable building.

The Design

The structure’s design uses laminated veneer lumber beams made into panels 50 feet long, 10 feet wide and more than 6 inches thick. These are cut to size and used to make a series of large arches—40 feet tall to the central peak and spanning 50 feet across—made of sections with a triangular cross-section to add structural strength.

A series of these arches is assembled to create a large enclosed space with no need for internal structural supports. The pleated, sawtooth design of the roof is designed to accommodate solar panels and windows for natural lighting and passive solar heating.

A series of these arches is assembled to create a large enclosed space with no need for internal structural supports. The pleated, sawtooth design of the roof is designed to accommodate solar panels and windows for natural lighting and passive solar heating.

“The structural depth achieved by building up the triangular section helps us achieve the clear span desired for the communal space, all while lending a visual language on both the interior and the exterior of the structure,” said Demi Fang, an MIT architecture graduate student who was part of the design team.

“Each arch tapers and widens along its length, because not every point along the arch will be subject to the same magnitude of forces, and this varying cross-section depth both expresses structural performance while encouraging materials savings.”

The arches would be prefabricated in sections and then bolted together onsite, making the actual construction process pretty streamlined, according to Klein.

   

Tagged categories: Design; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Wood

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