New sustainable sports hall built with mass engineered timber

Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) recently inaugurated its new sports hall named The Wave. It is said to be the first large-scale building in Southeast Asia that features an innovative timber construction technology known as mass engineered timber (MET).

According to NTU, such technology provides five times better heat insulation than concrete and is able to support a continuous 72-m wave-like roof without the need for internal columns. This opens up a cavernous three-storey space with no internal pillar, which can host three full-sized basketball courts or 13 badminton courts.

The Wave is designed with external columns to support the seven long-span timber arches weighing over 440 t. This is possible because MET is much stronger than concrete or steel when comparing its weight-to-strength ratio, said NTU. And as the building process involves assembling prefabricated parts, construction is sped up, resulting in 25 percent savings in manpower.

The Wave consists of 980 mechanised retractable seats, plus a special cooling system that chills the air as it enters the hall so that no conventional air-conditioning systems are needed, added NTU. Other eco-friendly features include energy-saving LED lighting and solar powered systems.

The building is also designed to take advantage of its natural surroundings. Using computer modelling of the sun and wind patterns on-site, the building designers aimed to harness the natural winds, explained NTU, and thus good ventilation can be achieved with average wind speeds of about 0.4 m per second.

“Sustainability is a core value of this university, and we walk the green talk, from education and research, to the building technologies on the NTU campus,” said Professor Bertil Andersson, president of NTU. “As an owner of a pine tree forest in Sweden, I’m a firm believer in sustainable forestry. I’m proud that NTU has pioneered the innovative use of wood in buildings here resulting in another iconic NTU structure, The Wave.”

Note: More detailed information on the project will be published in the SEAC Jul/Aug 2017 issue.