The latest, summer, edition of the Swedish Wood architecture magazine, Tra! shows roofs that define a space in France & Switzerland by Shigeru Ban, Rüssli & Dietrich Untertrifaller
There are many good reasons to choose wood when building a roof, not least its light, weight, formability and cost-effectiveness.
When, in Germany in 1906, master carpenter Otto Hetzer patented his idea of gluing planed boards together to form curved beams, the result was what we now call glulam, a dimensionally stable material that is strong enough to be used across large spans.
The first big showcase of glulam’s ability to push boundaries, its beauty, its high strength in relation to its own weight and its ability to optimise the properties of wood came at the World’s Fair in Brussels in 1910, when large glulam arches were used to form the roof of the new Reichseisenbahnhalle.
Swedish State Railways (SJ) was an early adopter of prefabricated glulam for the structural frames of halls and platforms all over Sweden. Elegant roofs built in locations such as Malmö, Stockholm, Sundsvall and Gothenburg remain in use to this day. And the wooden roof of a 1937 aircraft hangar in Västerås long held the record for the world’s largest span at 55 metres!
Interest in creative and aesthetically attractive roof structures in glulam and CLT is now growing around the globe.