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Moelven glulam for taller, stronger timber buildings in urban areas

Published 23 Mar 2023 (updated 29 Apr 2024) · 2 min read
Wooden building being built

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At a glance

  • Strong as steel per weight, glulam is ideal for tall buildings
  • Relatively lightweight, glulam is ideal for building on top of existing structures in dense urban areas
  • Timber is a renewable resource and creates a better indoor environment

Moelven Limtre manufactures, designs and constructs tall buildings with glulam, an eco-friendly, load-bearing and flexible material that rivals the strength of steel.

As more people move into cities, the need to construct sustainable buildings in dense areas is growing. By 2050, the world’s urban population is expected to nearly double to at least 9.5 billion, but doubling the use of natural resources to build cities is not sustainable.

Robust and renewable glulam

Glue laminated timber (glulam) is composed of small sheets of timber bonded together with structural adhesives. It is efficient to produce, stands up to steel structurally and has a lower carbon footprint.

The manufacture of steel beams, for example, takes about two to three times more energy and six to 12 times more fossil fuels than the manufacture of glulam beams. In addition, glulam has great resistance to earthquake and fire.

Moreover, glulam beams allow for more design flexibility than conventional steel, reinforced concrete or traditional timber construction, and can span large distances without intermediate columns and be used in curved structures.

Concrete benefits

Glulam, like other timber materials, is relatively lightweight. It is thus a valuable material for building in dense urban areas on top of existing structures that cannot tolerate significant stress, such as underground sewage pipes and metro systems. It also is well-suited for building on inclines and land composed of clay or quicksand.

Timber products also have numerous environmental benefits. They are renewable, remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the building, and reduce the amount of waste produced in construction, among other things. Moreover, studies show that people who work and live in natural timber environments feel and perform better.

Market potential

The global glulam market was valued at USD 4.76 billion in 2016 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 5.9 per cent from 2018–2025. Driving growth are growing sustainability concerns and shifting consumer preferences for wood-based construction.

Moelven Limtre is a pioneer in timber construction and one of the leading manufacturers of glulam in Europe. The company developed methodologies for building tall timber structures in the early 1990s and recently completed the world’s tallest timber building, Mjøstårnet, a pre-fabricated, 18-storey building. Mjøstårnet’s timber skeleton was built at a speed of one storey per week.

In response to growing international interest, Moelven also collaborates with clients such as Sumitomo, which aims to build a 350-m-high timber headquarters in central Tokyo for its 350-year anniversary in 2041.

Rune Abrahamsen


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