Residential [Large] Award Winner
Jury comments: We were impressed by the waste reduction that resulted from factory prefabrication, the speed of construction, the technical innovation, the holistic approach to sustainability – including carbon sequestration and life cycle issues. This is a building many people can learn from.
Completed in 2017, Brock Commons Tallwood House is an 18-storey, 404-bed student residence located at the University of British Columbia. With a height of 53 metres, Brock Commons is the world’s tallest mass timber tower. The LEED v4 Gold target project aspires to be a model for a future that features extraordinarily ordinary mass wood buildings that are quick, clean and cost effective to construct and that maximize carbon sequestration and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The innovative project demonstrates that a mass wood building can be comparable in cost to a traditional concrete building. To be truly environmentally meaningful, mass wood structures must be incorporated into buildings of all types and sizes, from the audacious to the everyday, whether the wood structure is exposed or not.
Using a “keep it simple” design approach, the innovative mass timber structural system proved to be economically viable, repeatable, and adaptable to other building types and uses. The project was delivered on time and on budget, demonstrating that encapsulated mass timber buildings can be constructed quickly and economically, while delivering significant environmental benefits.
The wood used at Tallwood House was sourced from sustainably managed forests in British Columbia, where less than one third of one per cent of public forests are harvested annually, with a legal requirement to regenerate all harvested areas. Mass wood construction helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions created by the built environment since wood stores carbon and is less carbon intensive to produce than other building materials. With its 2,233m3 of wood, the building stores 1,753 metric tons of carbon dioxide.
Owner/Developer University of British Columbia
Architect Acton Ostry Architects Inc.
Tall Wood Advisor Architekten Hermann Kaufmann ZT GmbH
Structural Engineer Fast + Epp
Fire Science & Building Code GHL Consultants Ltd.
Building Envelope RDH Building Science
Mechanical, Electrical & Sustainability Consultants Stantec
Mass Wood Erection Seagate Structures
Mass Wood Supplier Structurlam
Concrete Formwork Whitewater Concrete Ltd.
Virtual Modelling Cadmakers Inc.
Energy Modelling EnerSys Analytics Inc.
Landscape Architect Hapa Collaborative
Civil Engineer Kamps Engineering Limited
Geotechnical Engineer Geopacific Consultants Inc.
Construction Manager Urban One Builders
Development Manager UBC Properties Trust
Photography Michael Elkan, Pollux Chung
Energy intensity [base building] = 135kWh/m²/year
Energy intensity [process energy] = 5.7kWh/m²/year
Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under ASHRAE 90.1  = 42%
Potable water consumption from municipal sources = 31,508L/occupant/year
Reduction in potable water consumption relative to reference building = 52% indoor, 66% outdoor
Recycled materials by value = 19%
Regional materials [as defined by LEED] by value = 38%
Reduction in waste generated compared to traditional construction = 76%
Ground floor student workspace. Tackable linoleum wall coverings use Forbo Tackboard.