Origine in Quebec City is the latest entry in a growing line of engineered wood and hybrid structures now in place across North America, says project architect Yvan Blouin of Quebec City-based Yvan Blouin Architecte.
Blouin and André Huot, the representative for Origine’s mass timber wall and panel manufacturer, regard Origine as the latest chapter in a well-evolved, rapidly advancing mass timber story.
“This type of building is about the future. It embraces a green vision. We’re building with materials that will help our children and children’s children enjoy a better tomorrow,” says architect Blouin.
That future-forward vision takes many forms in Origine:
More with Less
On the banks of the St. Charles River, the site’s sandy soil conditions limited design of a concrete structure to no more than six floors, according to Blouin. Wood’s lighter mass freed designers to proceed mount a 12-story mass timber tower on top of a one-story concrete podium. Origine’s comparative lightness enables higher occupant density, a win-win for city leaders and the community.
Origine was assembled within four months, from December 2016 to April 2017. Blouin says a similarly sized project using typical construction materials would have taken twice as long. And, yes, assembly was performed through the dead of winter, proving out wood’s all-season constructability.
Origine meets the code standards expected of any mid-rise residential dwelling. To support an inclusive process and show national commitment to tall wood buildings, federal authorities sponsored comprehensive testing to rate mass timber’s fire resistive qualities. A full scale, three-story cross-laminated timber (CLT) stair-and-elevator shaft was exposed to intense flames for two hours and 12 minutes, reaching a peak temperature of 2,012 F. The interior of the CLT shaft remained intact, smoke-free, with interior sensors recording a temperature rise of just 3 C. The code’s two-hour fire rating was easily achieved.
Seismic and acoustic testing was also conducted. The engineers’ response to the findings are detailed in Quebec’s guide, Mass Timber Buildings of Up to 12 Storeys, published by the provincial government.
Proven Way Forward
Today, Origine stands as a symbol of a way forward in mass timber mid-rise applications. Huot says “over 1,200 officials from Korea, China, Turkey, Japan, Canada, United States, and South America have toured Origine during and after construction.”
For architect Blouin, Origine turns a critical page in the story for sustainable affordable housing. “We have to find a way to build better buildings,” he says. “Wood is the way to do that.” By all accounts, the world is eagerly watching and learning.
For more images and a downloadable case study detailing Origine's floor plans, fire testing, lateral load resisting system and acoustics visit Think Wood.