Industry News

WikiHouse movement could help UK fix its housing crisis

According to a growing number of experts, WikiHouse could revolutionise the construction industry, helping the UK tackle its endemic housing crisis.

Born as an open source building system, WikiHouse movement is focused on building an online database of timber frame building designs, which developers or individuals can download for free.

The prototype UK WikiHouse project, WikiHouse 4.0, was built at the Building Centre in London in 2014 featuring a design by Arup and Alistair Parvin of Zero Zero Architects, with a frame made of SmartPly OSB3.

"The Government has pledged to build 400,000 homes over the life of this Parliament and there is currently little sign of that being delivered", underlined Mike Harrison, Marketing Magaer at Coillte Panel Products, a company specialised in SmartPly Oriented Strand Board (OSB) and Medite Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) production. "There needs to be alternative visionary on how this will happen and WikiHouse is one route that needs to be taken more seriously. As part of an affordable answer to the problem, OSB can provide a cost-effective construction solution which also has a credible sustainability story behind it, in the case of SmartPly OSB3 offering full FSC accreditation."

Allegedly, WikiHouse could reduce build costs by up to two-thirds, which is why housing associations have begun to take a keen interest faced with a reduction in rent income as Right to Buy is extended. South Yorkshire Housing Association is one of the first to take it forward with a plan to build a pilot home in the village of Darnall, again to a design by Alastair Parvin. The housing association is looking to construct it for around £50,000.
 

Positive Q4 for builders merchants sales: timber products up by 3.1%

According to the latest figures from GfK's Builders Merchants Panel, released by the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF), sector sales in Q4 2015 were 3% ahead of the same period last year, with sales ex-VAT of £1.21bn. 

Remarkably, heavy Building Materials (which account for 46% of sales through general builders merchants annually) were up by 2.9%, while Timber and Joinery Products (which account for 21% of annual sales) were up by 3.1%.  

Commenting on the figures, BMF MD John Newcomb said: “We have reached another landmark. GfK’s Builders Merchants Panel started in July 2014 and we now have 18 months of data. The Q4 2015 results complete our first full calendar year. We can clearly see an upward sales trend emerging year on year. Although the seasonality of the building year is reflected in the latest figures, Q4 continued the trend of growing faster year on year than the UK average level of 2.4% and also out performed retail volume growth of 2.6%.”

Mr. Newcomb added: “2016 has started well and, despite concerns over the global economy and the prospects of an in-or-out EU referendum, the CPA is forecasting growth driven by housebuilding and infrastructure. On balance, builders merchants are likely to be as busy in 2016 as they were in 2015.”

Construction of Vienna 24-storey wood building to start this Spring

Image courtesy of http://www.hoho-wien.at/Construction of the world's tallest wood building will start this spring in Vienna, Austria. 

When completed in 2017, the 'HoHo building' will have 24 storeys, surpassing by far 'The Tree', a 14-storey residential building under construction in Bergen, Norway

The wood high-rise is located in Seestadt Aspern northeast of Vienna by the Seepark park. With a height of roughly 84 metres and an estimated cost of £50 million, roughly 75 percent of the building will be made of wood. The service core will be constructed of solid reinforced concrete to which the timber supporting structure is secured.

 "Wood is a natural choice in Austria, because more of it grows than is used. Wood is cost-effective, it saves resources, it has high acceptability and wood surfaces create a natural atmosphere in indoor spaces. We have developed a technical wood construction system that enables construction of tall buildings", architect and planner Rudiger Lainer said.

"The starting point is to realise the building as efficiently as possible. We combine wood construction with concrete construction and with this synergy we strive for the best possible solution from the standpoint of building regulations, quality, cost-efficiency, fire safety and flexibility," Lainer added.

To read the complete interview with Mr Laner click here.

Visit the project website at www.hoho-wien.at.

[Image courtesy of www.hoho-wien.at.]