After a decade of research aimed at reintroducing wood into Japanese urban architecture, the first multi-story building designed entirely with timber materials has finally met Tokyo's strict fire regulations. The 3-level Miyamura Veterinary Clinic, created under the lead of Toshihiko Suzuki from the Tokyo based offices Atelier OPA with Takao Nishizawa from Buildinglandscape, is a combination of a traditional post-and-beam wooden structure and LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber), a cutting-edge material which can resist fire for an entire hour. This exceeds Tokyo's regulations, which require a minimum resistance of 45 minutes.
Interestingly, the wooden layered LVL wall (developed in Japan by the Japan LVL association, now approved by the Japanese Ministry of Construction and processed by the Key Tec) is only 150 mm thick. While acting as a load bearing structure, LVL is also fireproof without requiring any extra surface coating. Therefore, Miyamura Veterinary Clinic is comprised of 100 percent wood that has none of the concrete partitions or structural metallic components, or other fire-resistant finishings, that until now were simply unavoidable in multi-level Japanese architecture.
Located in one of the central districts of Tokyo, the Animal Hospital provides a significant model that re-introduces traditional values in Japanese design. Indeed, the LVL not only ensures a good structural capacity and fire resistance, but the clinic also demonstrates how a tall building in capital’s core can actually have a genuine wooden structure and, with that, all the other advantages of timber. Among LVL’s benefits are optimal thermal and acoustic performance and a high degree of cost efficiency. In fact, employing LVL significantly reduces the cost of the foundation, which is usually a considerable expense given the specificity of the Tokyo context―the soft reclaimed land of an always expanding city.
Left exposed, the LVL proves itself to be a great finishing material – both inside and outside. In this sense, the main southern façade as well as the eastern and western sides of the building feature 150 mm LVL structural panels (integrated with a breathable water-repellent sheet and covered by an extra 30 mm layer in LVL). Meanwhile, the interior walls, floors and ceilings, in addition to the custom made furniture, all comprised of LVL, provides a cozy atmosphere and evocative texture.
The Miyamura Veterinary Clinic, with its 250 sq.m of total floor area, was completed in just 8 months.
Images via Maria Novozhilova for Inhabitat