PORTFOLIO – PFC: Timber Tower


Newssetter post in

Recientemente fue publicado en la newssetter oficial de CREE by Rhomberg una entrevista que me realizaron sobre el proyecto final de carrera que diseñe el pasado año 2018. El motivo fue el hecho de haber incorporado en el proyecto como motivo principal de la constitución de la torre su propia patente de elementos híbridos. Fue una colaboración entre el diseño, la metodología BIM y su amplia variedad de elementos subidos a la página CREE es una empresa Austriaca, por lo que la entrevista fue realizada íntegramente en inglés:

Recently an official interview was published in the official newssetter of CREE by Rhomberg about the final project that I designed last year 2018. The reason was the fact of incorporating into the project as main reason for the constitution of the tower. own patent for hybrid elements. It was a collaboration between the design, the BIM methodology and its wide variety of elements uploaded to the page. CREE is an Austrian company, so the interview was conducted entirely in English:

Cree by Rhomberg: How did you find about Cree by Rhomberg?
Francisco José Martínez Bernal: For a whole year, I took an interest in systems using prefabricated timber modules, such as Kielsteg elements. In my search for new systems like that one, I came across the LCT One, where the Cree LCT System proved to be a more mature and functional arrangement for highly complex structures. Two years later, I used the same system in my degree thesis. A high-end Project.

Cree: Why was Cree the best solution for the final Project?
Francisco: The project required a system capable of efficiently dealing with constructions at height. Furthermore, it had to combine concrete and timber, since the original idea was to use the first and second floors as a concrete foundation for a tower made from wood. The best option was to prefabricate the different building elements. The project itself had to be supported in front of a jury, in terms of its structure and the elements used. This meant that the concept of prefabricated timber and the concept of tower had to work together in order to achieve the best results. The Cree LCT System has proven to be a suitable system when it came to find an easy and direct manner to raise such building in site, by using not only the combination of the two main materials of the building, but also an effective prefabricated system for constructions at height.

Cree: How efficient was it for you working with the Cree components?
Francisco: It was intuitive and fast. The components offered an excellent spatial vision of the project’s construction. I understood them immediately and, together with the Revit tool, their 3D perception felt like playing a game. As an anecdote, at a certain point of the project I had to redo the whole model of the building, and it was thanks to this system that I managed to rebuild it completely in less than two months, even with a level of detail of 1:20.

Cree: In your opinion, what were the biggest advantages of using the Cree LCT System and the Cree components?
Francisco: Without a doubt, the fact that I could easily and quickly explain how the project was built, as well as its different components. For me, that was crucial. I needed an innovative system that allowed for immediate explanations. I reckon the main advantage of this system is how easily it can be built, its quick execution and how it can be explained to other professionals.

Cree: How easy was the implementation of BIM components to the BIM methodology?
Francisco: Implementing the components into the methodology was as easy as downloading them and updating the name of a few settings. They instantly became part of the building’s database. BimObject had a lot to do with this: its interface allowed me to explore the different types of components while visualizing them. Other systems that include their own BIM library in their website are not as intuitive, for instance Knauf or Pladur.

Cree: Do you know about our Cree planning manual? How helpful was the planning manual for you? And, was there anything you missed?
Francisco: I do. I found the manual on BimObject website while looking for information about the components and their construction. The manual came in particularly handy when looking for the components, since these are included in the “Structural Frame” category even though they are actually walls and columns. The model of the components and their placement is linked to a host and to a particular position within the model. If this is not explained before, it can be a bit confusing. I didn’t miss anything in the manual itself: I started with the basics, and then I kept exploring on my own.

Cree: Do you know about the Cree Webinars – did you participate?
Francisco: I was not aware of it. Now that I’ve looked into it in detail, I’m ready to participate. I find it very interesting, and I absolutely agree with the main concept. [See Cree Inspired Webinar Series]

Cree: Do you know colleagues and / or offices that work with the Cree LCT system?
Francisco: One of the most interesting aspects of my degree thesis was developing it in a system that was unknown to most of my professors. It differentiated it from the others. In fact, it was me who introduced Cree to the persons that I presented the project to. If there is any studio in Spain that uses this system, I would love to know about it and work with them.

Cree: From your point of view, how important will resource-effective wood concrete hybrid construction be in the future?
Francisco: We cannot deny that the population will grow exponentially in the next years, and it is a fact that most of the new buildings still use the same construction methods as 50 years ago, particularly in Spain. There is an evident need to find more efficient and environmental-friendly construction systems which can offer smarter solutions. As Michael Green said in his TED talks, we must build skyscrapers made from timber. In the future, we will not be able to rely on steel and concrete alone. For me, hybrid constructions are a much-needed step, for everyone.

Cree: Lastly, as an architect, what prompted you to design in modular, why timber, why hybrid and how do you view the benefits of it when compared to conventional construction (such as concrete/steel)?
Francisco: I have always been interested in construction at height as a path to a more responsible architecture. This is a very demanding system, so I decided to research on more efficient and innovative methods to design and build. This is the reason why, during my studies, I focused on planification and construction systems that allowed for a faster execution and a better control of the whole process. It awakened my interest in the BIM methodology and the prefabricated modular construction. Since these offer a higher control of the process, they are the tool to achieve optimal results in architectural designs. In addition, I consider timber as the building solution for the future for environmental reasons, but it has some obvious lacks. For instance, the advantages of a concrete core against horizontal winds in high buildings, compared to wood cores.

However, there are multiple benefits of including timber in the process. On one hand, its light weight requires less aggressive foundations and facilitates transportation and implementation in site; and on the other hand, it is possible to perform more effective interventions if any restorations or readjustments are needed. Needless to say, its ecological footprint compared to concrete and steel is minimal.

To sum up, I believe the world needs models of construction like Cree’s. It’s the logical evolution of architecture.


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