Spain’s first laminated poplar wood house will be built in Ogíjares, Granada

ProPopulus Team

The assembly of Spain’s first-ever dwelling constructed with laminated poplar wood has commenced in Ogíjares, Granada. The pilot private residence, part of the LIFE Wood for Future project, integrates laminated poplar beams sourced from Vega de Granada and larch pine from the Sierra de Cazorla.

Designed by the University of Granada’s spinoff, IberoLam Timber & Technology, and promoted by a family from Zaidín, Granada, the house is an ecological construction with nearly zero energy consumption, boasting an 80% energy savings thanks to its innovative materials and thermal insulation.

The project, initiated on December 4, 2023, is a collaboration between the local Bonsai Arquitectos studio and LIFE Wood for Future, a European project led by the University of Granada to encourage sustainable construction with poplar wood, a traditional species in the Granada province.

Construction features and complexities

Situated on a 300-square-meter urban plot, the house adheres to the Passivhaus standard, ensuring minimal energy consumption and an almost negligible carbon footprint through advanced thermal insulation and air recirculation systems.

The first-floor structure of the two-story and basement house features mixed laminated beams of poplar and larch (MCLam), a pioneering product transferred to IberoLam Timber & Technology.

The main complexity of the project resides in the absence of a specialized industry in Andalusia, necessitating the calculation and testing of laminated beams in Granada’s IberoLam spinoff, manufacturing in the laboratory of the University of Santiago de Compostela’s Platform of Structural Timber Engineering (Pemade), and final assembly by the Navarre-based company Madergia.

Antolino Gallego, project coordinator and a professor at the School of Building Engineering, emphasizes that establishing a local industry in Andalusia will allow for streamlining the entire process, reducing costs and the carbon footprint associated with transportation. Gallego notes, “It will be the first dwelling constructed with laminated poplar in Spain, and to our knowledge, the first globally to use mixed laminated products from two species.”

Sustainable and cost-efficient

Architects Luis Llopis and Eva Chacón, leading the project, highlight the unexpected benefits of wood in meeting Passivhaus standards. Despite initial intentions not to design a wooden home, they discovered that, at similar costs, wood fulfilled technical building code requirements such as seismic and fire standards. Moreover, it proved to be a more sustainable choice compared to steel and concrete.

Bonsai Arquitectos emphasizes the advantages of prefabrication, citing precision in pre-calculated pieces that save time and uncertainties during construction. The assembly is expected to take three weeks out of a total construction period of ten months.

Llopis and Chacón express pride in contributing to the development of a technical wood industry for construction, potentially providing a significant boost to Andalusia’s forestry sector, and creating jobs and opportunities in highly specialized professions.

Public and private supporters involved

The project received support from the Andalusian Council of Sustainability, Environment, and Blue Economy, contributing larch wood from the public forest of Navahondona in the Sierra de Cazorla. Students from the Andalusian Government Forestry Training and Experimentation Center in Vadillo Castril carried out the harvesting.

Juan Carlos Cano, poplar grower and owner of the grove from where the trees used in the construction were harvested, thinks the house is a groundbreaking initiative. He envisions sustainable construction becoming a more profitable and stable outlet for poplar wood. Currently, in the Granada region poplar wood is mainly used for manufacturing boxes and packaging.

Miguel Ángel García and Yolanda Requena, the project’s promoters, express their satisfaction, having followed the process from the felling of pine trees in the Sierra de Cazorla and poplars in the Vega de Granada to the resilience tests conducted in Pemade’s laboratory. They envision their eco-friendly home as a symbol of progress, hoping it will revitalize the poplar groves that once flourished in Granada.

Thus, the construction of Spain’s first laminated poplar wood house stands as a testament to sustainable innovation, showcasing the potential for a thriving industry that harmonizes modern living with ecological responsibility. The project not only pioneers a new era in construction but also holds promise for revitalizing traditional forestry practices in the region.

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