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Concrete from Wood

Houses can be made of wood, as they were in the past — or of concrete, as they are today. To build for tomorrow, the two building methods are being combined: these hybrid structures, which contain both wood and concrete elements, are becoming increasingly popular in contemporary architecture.

In the context of the National Resource Programme “Resource Wood” (NRP 66), Swiss researchers have now developed an even more radical approach to combining wood and concrete: they are fabricating a load-bearing concrete which itself consists largely of wood. In many blends, the volume fraction of the wood is over 50 percent.

Cement-bonded wood products have been around for more than a hundred years. Yet previously they were used only for non-load-bearing purposes, such as insulation. Daia Zwicky, head of the Institute for Building and Environmental Technologies at the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg, wondered whether it wasn’t time for a more ambitious use of wood-based concrete.

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