Two Mediterranean countries, Italy and Spain, are at the forefront of using poplar for the construction industry in Europe.
In Italy, the PoplyHouse system, that uses poplar plywood for the design and construction of entire buildings, as well as for housing structures, and interior and exterior designs, was awarded the 2021 Sustainability Award of the Agency for Energy and Sustainable Development (Agenzia per l’Energia e lo Sviluppo Sostenibile).
In Spain, a demonstration building with structural laminated poplar wood elements, will be built in the province of Granada. This building, the first of these characteristics in Spain, is part of the LIFE Wood for Future project, which has obtained funding from the European Union’s LIFE Program.
The Italian system to build with poplar
The Italian system is “a green technology based on a new concept of dry joints and interlocking systems, which guarantees rapid construction, clean construction sites and very large customization margins”, according to its website.
PoplyHouse buildings are entirely built with poplar wood from sustainable managed Italian groves. It is a modular system, inspired by Japanese traditional architecture, that meets anti-seismic structural safety criteria, uses natural thermal and acoustic insulation, and it is light and easy to transport.
The building project in Spain
The building forecast to be raised in Granada will use wood from the Fuente Vaqueros poplar grove. The Bonsái Arquitectos studio is working on the preliminary project, that will use laminated poplar beams up to six meters long.
Long glued laminated poplar-based beams with embedded carbon fibre fabrics between wooden boards have been successfully developed by the IDIE Group (Research and Development in Building Engineering) and the Departments of Architectural Constructions, Applied Physics and Mechanical Structures of ETS Building Engineering of the University of Granada, within the framework of the activities of the COMPOP Timber Project.
Poplar crops absorb large amounts of CO2 and polluting gases from urban traffic and create a cooler and more humid microclimate. In the case of the Fuente Vaqueros poplar grove, “All the biomass of the grove represents a fixation of 440 tons of carbon, which is equivalent to the emissions of about 200 cars over a year (11,000 km each)”, explained Antolino Gallego, professor of Applied Physics at ETS Building Engineering of the University of Granada, and project coordinator.