Ongoing and Occasional 2021/001
Helsinki Library – Photo ALA Architects
Dear Fourth Door mailing list folks
This is the first in an occasional if regular Fourth Door missive series, mixing things I’ve noticed and noted across the span of FD-terrain. There’ll be further edition as part of a renewed and active year ahead. Let us know what you think, positive, negative and neutral, and I’ll look forward to folk’s communications, and to sending the next of these out soon.
Materials – Timber, architecture and the 21st century
Our friends in the North (i) Germany’s Detail Magazine just awarded their main 2020 architecture prize to Finnish ALA Architecture’s Helsinki Library, with its rather wonderful looking sinuous, swooping timber canopy facade. Just how much timber is integral to the design is another matter. Read about the rise of Helsinki’s new architectural generation – including ALA – in Fourth Door’s Unstructured here.
Our friends in the North (ii) – Some of you will know of our liking for the small island with the big craft scene in the middle (well, in the west-middle) of the Baltic Sea – Bornholm. This week brings news that the island’s showcase Green Solution House hotel is expanding, with a first in timber designed by major Danish architects 3XN (That’s three times Nielsen, the name of all three of the Aarhus studio founders) and their circular underlings, GXN, another sign of the times that the Danes are moving into timber.
Our friends in the North (iii) – following the news of the first UK manufacturing Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) (along with other indigenous wood materials) by Scotland’s CSIC noted in the last of these missives, TRADA posted a guide to grading UK woods by Dan Ridley-Ellis, from Edinburgh Napier University’s Centre for Timber Engineering. Ridley-Ellis also runs the centre’s terrific blog as well as being one of a – in probable likelihood – minority of timber engineers who lives a double life as a stand-up comedian (at least in the evening).
Our friends north of the Ashdown Forest - not exactly the same sort of thing, but another epicentre of small-town quirk, Stroud is home to Nicolas Pople Architects rather wonderfully idiosyncratic, Steiner Chapel. The chapel received a write up for the Forest Row studio in the Architectural Journal this week. An early write up about this ground-breaking use of CLT for what engineers describe as a Monocoque structure initially appeared on Unstructured here.
Materials - Green Steel - increasing numbers of reports regarding major moves towards Zero Carbon Steel have been appearing across diverse sections of the media, department of hydrogen futures, over the last months. Given steel contributes between 6% and 10% of all carbon emissions the moves are significant if not surprising. Part of the broader emergence of the Hydrogen Economy – using hydrogen energy to replace smelting ore in blast furnaces – features like this overview in a November FT are becoming almost everyday. LKAB, Sweden’s largest steel manufacturer - yes the same company which is moving part of the northern town of Kiruna out of safety concerns about the town collapsing into its underground mines – caused ripples when it announced it was targeting producing the first ‘Zero Carbon Steel’ by 2026 latest, and made a commitment for all operations to be fully zero carbon by 2046. Meanwhile in Austria, Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries hydrogen-based steel is behind what’s described as ‘the world’s largest steel plant capable of attaining net-zero carbon dioxide emissions’ at one of Austrian steelmaker voestalpine factories. ThyssenKrupp are working with the Norwegian giant, Equinor, on another hydrogen project for the formers Duisburg steel plant, while ArcelorMittal are also undertaking research in Spain. But, as is often pointed out, unless China makes green steel commitments (and acts on them) none of this will be enough to make a meaningful dent on steel’s carbon count. (Source of this mainly through Chris Goodall’s Carbon Commentary).
Meanwhile - Yekaterina Nekrasova, 40, swam a record 85 metres under the ice of Lake Baikal wearing only a cap and swimsuit. Easy when you know how, apparently.
This is the second in Fourth Door’s Ongoing information mail-outs.