Wood that inspires

The new workshop building is the baby of Delhi-based veteran architect, Mr. Gurdev Singh – himself an alumnus of the university (1968 batch), who also taught architecture to the current CEPT University President, Dr. Bimal Patel! He told WoodNews how Douglas-fir glulam came to be his choice.

Why use wood when you could have worked with steel?

CEPT University gave me a one-line brief: design a workshop that inspires the students that come to work in it! Most buildings on this campus have used brick, cement and steel extensively.

So the idea of using wood came naturally to me. If you look around, even this building is a combination of cement, steel and wood – and that would interest all students of architecture and building construction.

How did you choose glulam, and Canadian wood?

For nearly a decade I worked in Australia with Douglas-fir imported from New Zealand. I knew its grain and qualities. However, Douglas-fir from Canada turned out to be better suited to my application: It is denser, contains less moisture and has a better colour.

Douglas-fir harvested from plantations – as is done in Canada – has a longer grain and is better suited for glue lamination.

I wanted to tap into the northern light for illumination of all the work spaces in the new workshop. The geometry of the roof called for a supporting material that could be curved and could be shaped to suit the design. That is how glulam beams came into the picture.

How have these glulam beams behaved in India?

First, you must appreciate that these beams came from -20* Celsius in Canada and withstood the +40* Celsius temperatures in Ahmedabad’s summer!

In dry regions of northern India, wood loses humidity very fast; and timber must have at least 10% moisture content to prevent it from cracking.

That said we applied five coats of emulsion to these beams in order to protect the humidity within them. The emulsion also added a rich colour to the beams!

What about protection and upkeep of the beams?

Over a period of time all timber tends to lose humidity, so we have prepared a maintenance schedule for the glulam beams and a manual for the CEPT authorities. Once a year the beams need to be coated with the emulsion at a nominal cost.



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