Glulam from Canada makes its mark in India

A first-of-its-kind erection of Douglas-fir glue-laminated beams to build CEPT University’s workshop in Ahmedabad demonstrates its commercial viability

 

Mumbai-based Forestry Innovation Consulting India (FII India) seems to have scored a “first” in India with the commissioning of a 13,000-square-foot students’ workshop, using Douglas-fir glue-laminated (glulam) beams, at the prestigious CEPT University in Ahmedabad.

It was the outcome of a memorandum of understanding between FII India, CEPT University and Delhi-based veteran architect, Mr. Gurdev Singh. The project was inaugurated on 17 January jointly by the Chair of the FII Board and British Columbia’s Deputy Minister, Mr Tim Sheldan, and CEPT University President, Dr. Bimal Patel.

The building houses workshops for students of architecture and design across seven disciplines: model-making, woodworking, metal, weaving, print-making, ceramics and CEPT University’s FabLab for CNC machines, 3D printers, laser cutters, etc. The new facility can accommodate up to 300 students at a time.

The building also showcases two other wood species from British Columbia (B.C.) – Western Hemlock and yellow Cedar – in other structural and interior applications: seating and working benches, partition walls between workshops, storage for tools, doors and windows and their frames, trims, false ceilings and wall panelling.

Glulam beams

FII India also provided the university with 56 cubic metres of wood to build the workshop. Additionally, its support on technical assistance and material procurement and logistics went a long way in making this vision a reality.

It is arguably one of India’s first large-scale commercial project incorporating long-spanned 28 cubic metres of Douglas-fir glulam beams. The successful introduction of Douglas-fir glulam beams – a product not previously used in India – was made to order for CEPT University.

Specifically 33 glulam arches, each 11 metres in length, were shipped from B.C. and installed by a local builder. Each beam had to be individually unpacked from its container by crane, stored onsite, prepared and installed in sequence as roof arches via onsite crane.

This innovative wood technology uses timber that is joined together end-to-end, then glued together in laminations using water-proof, state-of-the-art adhesives, creating nearly unbounded possible beam depths and lengths in curved and straight configurations.

Dr. Patel said, “CEPT emphasises the method of learning by making. For our students, this building provides a very good example of the innovative and sustainable use of materials. We will continue to explore new ways of using wood for our future projects.”

Canadian wood

According to the Country Director of FII India, Mr. PraneshChhibber, India has been a consumer of tropical hardwoods, importing it predominantly in the form of logs. But trade in lumber has risen to 15% of the value of wood imports in recent years, he noted.

Softwood imports have also risen to 30% of wood imports. In the 4 years since FII India began operations, Canadian wood has cornered close to 10% of the softwood market share in India.

“The CEPT workshop is an outstanding example of how B.C.’s innovative wood technology and materials can be used effectively in a building of this size. It demonstrates how innovative construction techniques are expanding opportunities for wood far beyond just interior woodworking,” Chhibber said.

Canada has more than 10% of the world’s total forest cover, with B.C. alone accounting for over 50% of Canada’s total lumber exports with zero deforestation over last two decades.

This makes B.C. well positioned as a long-term reliable source. “Douglas-fir and Western Hemlock are perfect for post-and-beam structures, pre-fabricated homes and even cross-laminated timber (CLT),” Chhibber added.

India market

According to Mr. Rick Jeffery, President of Canada Wood and Coast Forest Producers’ Association, Canadian wood species in India are right now in the touch-and-feel stage of market development.

“Consumers in India may have challenges, but Canadian suppliers can help them find solutions through selection of appropriate species and application of   wood engineering,” he said.

FII India not only promotes Canadian wood species, but also has many programmes to render assistance to buyers by way of education in woodworking techniques and transfer of engineering knowhow, he noted.

Established in 1962, as the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, CEPT University focuses on understanding, designing, planning, constructing and managing human habitats. Its teaching programmes aim to build thoughtful professionals and its research programmes deepen understanding of human settlements.

The university comprises five faculties: architecture, public planning, engineering and building technology, interior design and habitat and project management.

FII India works closely with architects, manufacturers, importers and real estate developers to provide technical and procurement assistance for their requirements free of cost (www.canadianwood.in).

 

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