Is mass timber all its hyped up to be? Jennifer Bonner and AKT II’s co-founder Hanif Kara think so, and they’ve written a book to explain why.
Blank: Speculations on CLT advances a much-needed and transformational agenda for making architecture today through a close reading of cross-laminated timber (CLT) and its material unit, ‘the CLT blank’. In the book, US-based architect Jennifer Bonner and AKT II co-founder Hanif Kara OBE, who together teach at Harvard GSD, detail the opportunity that CLT timber provides to meet the requirements of the 21st century and how these ‘boards’ of wood – glued together to create thick blocks – have taken the industry by storm. CLT is suddenly becoming the leading star in how we construct buildings in a timely and economical way, as well as helping in the fight against climate change.
Cross-laminated timber is ‘the new wonder material of our eco-aware, guilt burdened age; the world-saving, carbon-soaking, multifunctional stuff’ as Edwin Heathcote, from the Department of Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design explains. The book details the importance of finding a new language for ‘the CLT Blank’, “a material that looks like it has everything, but that hasn’t yet coagulated a sense of theory, meaning, or material culture around itself yet” Heathcote notes.
In Bonner and Kara’s findings, it was important for the editors to note that across the engineering and construction industries, many continue to substitute structural wood for steel.
Blank: Speculations on CLT details the experimentation, innovation, and research that follows when detailing the various scales of the ‘CLT blank’. The book itself is a beautiful blend of art, architecture and science that both Jennifer and Hanif hope will invigorate current conversations related to the material.