Pre-Engineered Timber frames

« If the 19th century was the century of steel and the 20th century the century of concrete, then the 21st century is about engineered timber »

Alex de Rijke, Architect, Director of dRMM Studio

Combat global warming

Unlike other structural materials, wood is one of the only building materials which stores CO2 through the process of photosynthesis during its growth phase.







The architectural qualities of wood coupled with its excellent mechanical performance allow it to be integrated with a tremendous freedom of form into countless structures. Timber structures can be used in all manner of projects to deliver something that is both ecological and economical. A vast array of façade claddings materials to complete the building envelope are available: wood, mineral fibre panels, composite panels, glass, textile membranes etc….

Fire and wood : a real issue ?

It is no mystery that pre-engineered timber, or mass timber, is more and more popular and adopted in the building construction sector. One of his last setbacks in the eyes of the public is its resistance and behavior against fire.
In a fire, the exterior layers of pre-engineered timber elements burn and char. This charring effect creates an “armor” that helps to preserve and insulate the inner part of the element, maintaining its structural strength. On the other hand, metal materials (steel, aluminium, reinforced concrete…) are very sensitive to the heat of fires.

Under high temperatures, metal progressively and indistinctly melts, showing no signs of apparent weaknesses until failing catastrophically. While classified as a combustible material, pre-engineered timber ends up safer in a fire than metal, a non-combustible material.

Recent large-scale tests by the Canadian Wood Council (CWC) shows that mass timber structures perform exceptionally well, as expected, withstanding the full burnout. It is concluded that the fire resistance of mass timber is similar to that of non-combustible construction.

These tests have been performed using the fire resistance testing method of the Canadian standard CAN/ULC-S101, which is very similar to the American standard ASTM E119.

Liberated architecture

The beauty of wood can be expressed in numerous structural formats: trusses, lattices, portals frames, shells…etc. Almost any shape is possible without being constrained by size or geometry. Wood comes in a vast array of natural colours and textures. It conveys an inherent warmth. Wood stains or paints enhance the available colour palette. Individual engineered elements help to impart elegance and refinement to the final structure. These elements can be rectilinear or curved. The natural durability of certain wood species means that they can be used outside; other species when treated with technologically advanced preservative systems also provide tremendous long­evity.

Wood is a source of unlimited inspiration that reconnects humankind with nature.

Glued-laminated timber (Glulam) and solid wood structures

The wooden elements are manufactured with the aid of large robotic machines that receive direct instruction via software used to produce the 3D design models.

Glued-laminated timber has several technical advantages:

  • Flame resistance
  • Resistance to atmospheric changes and aggressive chemicals
  • Dimensional stability during changes in temperature
  • Acoustic qualities
  • Aesthetic warmth & beauty

The advantage of dry construction

  • Faster construction times: By definition, dry construction does not require the use of water or ‘wet trades’, therefore drying and curing periods are avoided during construction and the whole process is less weather dependent.
  • Greater precision in the construction
  • Off-site preparation of building elements, accurately prefabricated in factory conditions, for rapid assembly on site.

Timber walls

Structurally insulated panels (SIPs) & cross laminated timber (CLT) panels can be provided fully pre-fabricated with the inclusion of insulation and surface finishes.

Highly valued in passive construction, wood construction is particularly attractive to those who seek a healthy low energy building, with excellent thermal and aesthetic comfort.

Timber and steel superstructures

By combining timber with steel, SMC2 uses the intrinsic quality of each material for both structural integrity and architectural optimisation. Our engineering teams coordinate use of these materials for us to construct bold, elegant structures on your behalf.