When entering a space, many people look down or straight ahead. If they tore their eyes away from their devices and looked up, then they'd probably see one of this decade's major design trends: exposed beams and rafters, or rib panels.
These open ceilings can brighten an office, make a school building feel cozy or bring a rustic charm to a modern residential construction. Including them in a room design used to be costly, weighty and involve steel or concrete, but Stora Enso is now bringing a renewable alternative with rib panels.
Rib panels - the structures that actually make the floors and roofs of a building - are traditionally made from concrete. Stora Enso has recently launched rib panels made of cross-laminated timber (CLT), which offers architectural freedom and structural performance.
As well as the creative design possibilities that wood brings, Stora Enso's CLT method is lightweight, cost-effective, environmentally sound, and suitable for commercial, industrial and residential construction.
The rib panels are ready to install, so there's no dust during construction. The panels have superior strength, stability and a high load-bearing capacity. The space between ribs can be used to route service lines or other installations, making it an ideal choice for public buildings. In addition, rib panels allow architectural flexibility over the lifetime of a space. By choosing a rib panel, a row of columns and beams can easily be omitted, thereby increasing open-plan space while providing a new floor plan with many uses.
Additionally, as a construction material, wood is renewable unlike other competing materials.
Manchester's latest timber-framed pavilion, home of the new Ivy Restaurant, is a celebration of ambition and green values. Pushing the boundaries of timber construction and spanning four floors from brasserie to roof garden, it uses Stora Enso's CLT rib panels for the floors and CLT for the walls. The timber contractor was B&K Structures.
CLT rib panels are prefabricated and lightweight; this makes the work flow quicker, from delivery to assembly, compared with other construction methods.
"They are tailor-made in a climatecontrolled environment and can be transported to building sites just in time for assembly, saving time and ensuring high quality," says Mathieu Robert, director of building solutions at Stora Enso.
There are fewer pieces to install, so construction programmes save time. Long-span floors with CLT rib panels can reduce the number of components installed by up to 20-30%.
While a long-span layout may have a higher overall frame cost, efficiencies in other areas compensate for this and bring down the total costs. In poor soil conditions, a reduced loading from lower self weight keeps foundation works to a minimum. CLT rib panels, spanning up to 12m, increase the foundation grid and therefore reduce the total foundation cost.
Best of all, rib panels meet the demand of creating spaces that are stylish, elegant and timeless.