October 24-25


51 Dockside Dr, Toronto, ON M5A 0B6

Mass Timber: Care is Choreography

Thursday, October 24
What role should mass timber and renewable materials, with their potential to replace concrete and steel, play in ensuring the planet’s survival? Retracing wood’s passage from stewarded seed in forest soil to harvested biomass, then laminated walls in a living room, and through to its disassembly, Lindsey Wikstrom, of New York architectural practice Mattaforma, pauses at each step in the supply chain of mass timber to consider the labour and economies involved, looking closely at the way wood is grown, sourced, and transported, and its impacts on the biodiversity of the forest and the health of our ecosystems. Drawing from her recent book, Designing the Forest and Other Mass Timber Futures (Routledge 2023), Wikstrom explores why histories of extractivism make this approach to design challenging, not only because of the global economy of materials but also due to cultural and aesthetic entrenchments. Along the way, common assumptions about mass timber are debunked, including its fire performance, its strength, and its role in carbon sequestration. Having identified contemporary technical, cultural, and spiritual gaps preventing the transition towards a fully timber built environment, she outlines how we must move forward: through a more sensitive species-based methodology, where designers are empowered choreographers of carbon, transferring and trading between forest, factory, site, and beyond.