Construction recently began on some innovative new student digs for Canada's University of British Columbia. Designed by Acton Ostry Architects, the Tall Wood Building will be home to 404 students and rise to 18 floors, making it the tallest wooden residential tower in the world on completion in 2017.

The timber tower will rise to a height of 53 m (174 ft) and have a total floorspace of 15,115 sq m (162,700 sq ft). It's unlikely to boast world's tallest bragging rights for long however, as a glut of proposed tall timber residential towers have recently been proposed, including the far taller 35-story Baobab, by MGA.

Housing upper year and graduate students, Tall Wood Building's interior will feature 33 four-bed units and 272 studios. Study and social areas will be located on the ground floor, and the uppermost floor will feature a student lounge.

Visually, the tower's design reflects the International Modernist style of UBC's existing buildings as required by planning regulations, and its facade will sport white and charcoal-colored prefabricated metal panels.

The building comprises a mass timber superstructure and concrete base and each floor has a total of five cross laminated timber (CLT) panels. For further reading on CLT panels and the benefits and drawbacks of mass timber construction, check out our article on wooden skyscrapers.

Notwithstanding the excellent fire performance of heavy mass wood, fire-safety is always a contentious issue with timber towers. Acton Ostry Architects aims to allay concerns with an automatic sprinkler system and some concrete reinforcement in the stairwells. In addition, the firm says that the tower's layout of highly-compartmentalized small rooms should help limit the spread of a potential fire.

Acton Ostry Architects is aiming for LEED Gold certification (a green building standard) for the building.

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