Taiwan’s first-ever cross-laminated timber (CLT) building has risen in Taichung’s concrete jungle—an impressive feat of engineering given the island’s hot and humid climate. Local firm Origin Architects & Planners designed the wooden high-rise as the headquarters of WoodTek, a Taiwanese firm that promotes wood as a renewable building material. Shaped like an upside-down staircase, the striking headquarters has fueled interest among local firms in using cross-laminated timber as a green alternative to concrete and steel.
Located in Taichung’s Xitun District near the high-speed train rail, the WoodTek headquarters is an eye-catching landmark and symbol of progress in Taiwan’s adoption of green architecture. Much of Taiwan’s medium and high-rise architecture is made from steel-reinforced concrete to withstand seismic activity. WoodTek and Origin use the timber headquarters to show off the resilience of the prefabricated cross-laminated panels, which they say have a lifespan of close to 200 years, tolerate up to 1,100 degrees Celsius, and withstand 10 tons of pressure per square meter.
Protecting the timber building from moisture damage was crucial due to Taiwan’s sub-tropical climate. The architects added a pressure-equalized rain screen system to prevent wind-driven water from entering the building. The first floor is elevated atop a concrete base to remove the wood from soil moisture and potential attacks from termites. The use of prefabricated panels for both the walls and flooring allowed for a speedy construction time of just 20 days.
“By making this building from theory to reality, we are writing a new page in Taiwan’s history of Architecture,” write the architects. “We also tried to break the stereotype of ‘boxlike’ CLT construction image. In it’s exterior shape, architectural expression is articulated by the combination of solid walls and transparent glass staircase. In side of the buildings, light penetrating through this staircase casts a dramatic space effect.”
Images by Figure x Lee Kuo-Min Studio