May 16, 2020

Architects challenged to expand existing urban buildings with wood

Metsä Wood’s project Plan B
Michael Green from Vancouver-based Michael Green Architects
sustainable building
Catherine Sturman
2 min
Wooden structure built upon an existing building.
An international competition has been set for designers to provide solutions in which wood can be utilised to develop existing buildings in order to pro...

An international competition has been set for designers to provide solutions in which wood can be utilised to develop existing buildings in order to provide housing for the increased urban population.

It has been predicted that by 2050, over 2/3 of the worlds population will be living in cities, in which there is an increased need for architects to formulate a solution.

The international competition expands on Metsä Wood’s project Plan B, where entrants have been asked to find a sustainable and creative solution to counteract such challenges, which will in turn benefit both citizens and the environment. The challenge must incorporate buildings from major cities, such as London, Berlin, Paris, Shanghai and Washington..

Michael Green from Vancouver-based Michael Green Architects said: “We need to start building up, and stop tearing down. We have an alternative. A building extension constructed with a timber frame can be a fast, sustainable and inexpensive solution”. Wood is an innovative material that can be utilised by building additional floors to existing structures, whilst preserving the architectural features of original designs.

Research has shown that approximately ¼ of existing buildings can have extra floors made of wood built on top of existing structures, making it a promising material to build sustainable space to cater for the needs of the economy, whilst ensuring there is limited impact upon traditional designs.

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Jun 17, 2021

Webuild and Lane to build railway in Texas

2 min
Italian construction firm Webuild and its U.S. subsidiary Lane Construction sign a US$16bn contract to build a railway in Texas

Webuild, formerly known as Salini Impregilo, has announced a US$16bn agreement to build a high-speed railway between Dallas and Houston in Texas. The project has been described as the “final step” before financial closure for the company, which Webuild said was“foreseen in the coming months”. 

Passengers using the 236-mile long railway, which was developed by Texas LLC, will travel in Japanese Tokaido Shinkansen bullet trains at 200mph, making one scheduled stop at Brazos Valley near Texas A&M University. This aims to shorten the total journey time between the two terminals from almost four hours to around 90 minutes, Texas LLC claims. The company hopes commercial operations will begin in 2026. 

According to Webuild, the new line will aim to target an estimated 100,000 “super commuters” who travel between the two cities by car and plane every week. Webuild said it would cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 101,000 tonnes per year.

This contract is an update on a preliminary design-build agreement signed with Texas Central LLC in 2019, valued at $14bn. The deal confirms the US as Webuild's single biggest market, comprising some 35% of the group’s total order backlog.

Around 17,000 new direct jobs will be created as a result of the project, as well as 20,000 indirect ones. U.S. suppliers from states aim to provide an estimated US$7.3bn of materials to construct the railway in conjunction with services provided by Italian suppliers. 

Webuild and Lane will oversee the civil engineering works of the project. This includes the tracks themselves, the viaducts, and depot buildings. 

Three facts about bullet trains 

  • The fastest commercially operated bullet train is not in Japan, but China. It is capable of reaching speeds of up to 268mph… with passengers onboard. 
  • Bullet trains are one of the safest ways to travel. Over 10bn passengers have been on board a bullet train and no-one has ever been killed on one. 
  • The “tunnel boom effect” is powerful enough to blow a freight train over. When a bullet train exits a tunnel at over 200mph, the resulting sonic boom effect is so strong, it could blow a normal freight train off its tracks.


Image: Texas Central LLC.

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