Building strength from weakness

Building strength from weakness

Moving onto the 20th century, a resurgence of massive wood design occurred through the invention of new laminating and steel fastening technology.  Rather than utilising natural large dimensional lumber, new technology takes the smaller, cheaper and more readily available dimensional lumber and combines it together to create a totally new product with a myriad of benefits.


Solid wood construction which employs engineered wood consists of the use of products such as glue-laminated timber, laminated strand lumber (LSL), parallel stand lumber (PSL), laminated veneer lumber (LVL), and cross laminated timber (CLT) which can also take the form of nailed or dowel lamination [Figure 28].  These products can be combined together and with other materials such as steel and concrete to create an extensive array of structural solutions.

CLT pioneer, De Rikle of the London based architectural company DRMM, coins the phrase ‘timber is the new concrete’[1] profusely promoting the benefits over traditional construction methods in relation to:


Reduction in time and cost due to off-site construction

No wet trades required

Smaller cranes can be used due to lightness of wood

Thick panels contribute to fire resistance and noise reduction

Solid panels enhance air tightness especially in modular construction

High shear strength to resist horizontal loads

The Government is simultaneously promoting the export of wood products along with the creation of CLT.  The 2015 MAFF report flaunts the success of their plans, with a 29% wood export revenue increase from the previous year.[2] With this in mind,  the export of processed wood products is the wood industry’s ultimate goal including new wood products such as Cross laminated timber.


[1] de Rijke, A. (2015, November 17). 21 reasons why wood is better: Prof. Alex de Rijke.  WoodSolutions,
[2] Forest Agency. Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan “Annual Report on Forest and Forestry in Japan.” FSL 2015

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