GRANADA – Granada is a pioneer in the field of sustainable construction with poplar wood. The first house with a poplar frame is under construction. Moreover, the building work started a few days ago in the municipality of Ogíjares.
The project is intended as a sustainable example for the future. The European LIFE Wood for Future initiative has been launched, led by the University of Granada. This initiative has now resulted in a demonstration version of a new type of timber-frame house. The house is being built in the municipality of Ogíjares, in Granada, and is being promoted by Miguel Ángel García and Yolanda Requena. The aim of LIFE is to promote a sustainable construction sector in Andalucia, using wood from the province of Granada.
Small ecological footprint
The house was designed by local architectural firm Bonsai Arquitectos and meets the Passivhaus standard. Furthermore, this standard guarantees low energy consumption and an ecological footprint of almost zero, the initiators say in a press release. The floor of the first floor of the house consists of laminated beams of poplar and larch wood. The inner and outer walls are made of coniferous wood.
Opportunities for the Granada region
However, the difficulty of this project lies in the many parties from different parts of Spain involved. The costs and carbon footprint of transport decrease once a local industry is developed in Andalucia. The entire process can then be carried out on site.
The composition of the two types of wood combines the light weight and flexibility of poplar and the great resistance and strength of larch. Both tree species are also abundant in the sparsely populated areas of the provinces of Jaén and Granada. New applications may allow poplar cultivation to flourish again. Currently, the wood from the tree is mainly used for fruit boxes and other packaging materials.
The architects Luis Llopis and Eva Chacón, responsible for the project, did not originally intend to design a wooden house. However, in their search for a design for a Passivhaus, a very energy-efficient home, they discovered that the combination of poplar and larch was perfect.
Beams meet building requirements
Llopis and Chacón’s design meets the requirements of the Technical Building Regulations, such as earthquake and fire safety standards, and the requirements for an almost energy-neutral house. Moreover, the price is competitive and the structure of the laminated beams is more durable than steel and concrete. The beams have been tested in Galicia and the beam prototypes meet all technical requirements for construction.
Smooth construction phase
It takes ten months to build this type of timber frame home, but the final assembly only takes three weeks. Prefabrication plays a major role in the construction process. Furthermore, parts are calculated “with great precision and down to the millimetre”. This saves a lot of time and uncertainties during the construction phase.
Important step for the region
The innovative pilot project was possible thanks to the various government parties and forestry students from Andalucia. The regional ministry sees the development as an important preparatory step to increase the value of Andalucian timber. This form of sustainable forestry can provide stable industry and employment in the region.
Sustainable rental housing for young people
The Andalucian Housing and Rehabilitation Agency (AVRA) is supporting the project through the construction of a seven-storey building with rental apartments for young people in La Azulejera, Granada. The building will have a wooden structure of laminated beams of poplar and pine wood.
Several stakeholders are hopeful that current developments will ensure that the sales market for these types of wood will grow with the increase in sustainable construction projects.
The initiators of the pilot project, Miguel Ángel García and Yolanda Requena, are very satisfied with the progress. They followed the process step by step, from cutting the pine trees in the Sierra de Cazorla and the poplars in La Vega de Granada to the resistance tests of the beams in the laboratory. “We had our doubts at first, but seeing that these beams are stronger than concrete beams completely convinced us,” says Miguel Ángel. He, therefore, hopes that these types of projects will make poplar plantings profitable again. The family has calculated that with their energy-efficient home they can save more than 80% on heating and cooling costs.