A four-story transitional housing complex in Kitchener, Ontario, was completed in just one year, illustrating how mass timber can contribute to relieving the housing shortage, Matt Bolen, principal with EDGE Architects, said during the 2022 Toronto Wood Solutions Conference. Bolen explained how lightweight cross-laminated timber panels achieve cost efficiencies.



A Kitchener, Ont.-based architect sees plenty of opportunities for mass timber to help solve the affordable housing crisis.Matt Bolen, principal with EDGE Architects, said the firm’s design of the recently completed four-storey transitional housing complex for women in Kitchener is a case in point.

Delivered in only one year, the net-zero-ready project illustrates how quickly mass timber buildings can be constructed for the right price with the right team.

A modular constructed design, it features cross-laminated timber (CLT) structural elements arranged to maximize efficiencies and minimize installation time. Panels are roughly 40 feet long, in the same range as precast hollow-core panels, but the CLT panels are three times as wide as precast achievable partly because of the light weight of wood.

“That’s one third the number of picks off a truck and should also relate to cost (savings),” Bolen told a seminar audience on the project recently at the 2022 Toronto Wood Solutions Conference hosted by the Canadian Wood Council.

He added a fundamental difference with the design and precast is the mass timber structure has “multi points of spanning across one panel length. It increases your stiffness significantly and allows you to decrease the thickness of the product.

“We knew we had to be competitive with other standardized projects using precast and other methods, but we were also competing in an RFP that had a number associated to it and that had shipping container groups responding to it.”