The completion of the innovative Via Cenni residential complex in 2013 was a true highlight in the history of European wood construction. Via Cenni, in Milan, is definitely a showcase for social housing using multi-storey timber construction. The main arguments for the use of CLT (cross-laminated timber) were short erection time, seismic safety, sustainability and good thermal insulation properties.
A true symbol of sustainability
Already one year after the start of construction in January 2012, the four towers were ready for the topping-out ceremony. The project was completed in October 2013, and by November the first inhabitants could move in. In addition to ecological aspects, the extremely fast construction method was one of the decisive factors behind the selection of renewable wood as the building material. A total of 6,100 cubic meters of CLT were used to build 124 apartments in an area of 17,000 square meters.
One goal of the project, stated in the EU-wide tendering process, was to create modern social housing which meets ecological as well as economic aspects of sustainability. In order to meet these requirements, lead architect Fabrizio Rossi Prodi and his structural engineers relied on CLT as the load-bearing material.
CLT – excellent material properties
CLT is an innovative building material with groundbreaking properties: It is lighter than concrete or brick, it has highly effective insulation, soundproofing and fire-safety properties and it is especially resistant to earthquakes. “We are very pleased to see that sustainable building has gained a foothold also in residential buildings. This sets the direction for future projects. The high degree of prefabrication of CLT elements enables fast erection times and offers cost advantages. CLT facilitates the fast production of homes for many people – housing that meets modern requirements in terms of comfort and sustainability,” says Herbert Jöbstl, Head of Operations Central Europe in Stora Enso Building and Living.
CLT facilitates the fast production of homes for many people – housing that meets modern requirements in terms of comfort and sustainability,” says Herbert Jöbstl.
Wooden construction aiming high: nine storeys and more
Via Cenni is an extraordinary project because of the consistent use of CLT – from walls and ceilings to the elevator shafts. “Via Cenni was the largest project for Stora Enso Building and Living so far,” says Matti Mikkola, Head of Building Solutions Business Development in Stora Enso Building and Living.
However, the size of the project was not a problem from the perspective of the CLT supplier: “In theory, we could produce CLT for a project of this magnitude in less than three weeks.” In Mikkola’s view, the Via Cenni project is the best proof that today, multi-storey wood construction up to nine storeys is state of the art. Experts are already talking about ten storeys and more. “The project also proves that wood construction is not more expensive than brick or concrete construction, and thus enables the creation of affordable housing,” concludes Mikkola.
In addition to affordability, the planning of the Via Cenni also included the principle of social interaction. The approx. 1 000 m2 courtyard garden of the residential complex serves as a social meeting place. Just like the “renewable” wooden residential towers, the garden itself is a memorable symbol of sustainability put into practice.