The largest timber project in Europe is nearly complete in Norway


Moholt 50/50 is a student accommodation project for the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim and is set to be completed by the end of 2016. The project, designed by the architecture firm MDH Arkitekter, will  be the largest cross laminated timber (CLT) project in Europe and is intended to reduce by 50% carbon emissions compared to standard Norwegian constructions .


The aim of this sustainable building is not only to provide accommodation and various facilities to the students but to create a friendly community integrated in the existing residential context. No barriers will be risen between the students area and the surroundings, on the contrary a diverse range of public commercial activities are included in the scheme, such as supermarkets, a medical centre, fitness facilities and so on.

The very Scandinavian look of the four blocks features not only a timber cladding, in fact its structure is entirely made of cross laminated timber (CLT) making it, when complete, the largest timber project in volume in Europe and at the same time its embodied energy will be reduced heavily. According to the American Wood Council, CLT panels allow for the transfer of loads on all sides and in particular they retain strength and shape indefinitely. Additionally the panels are prefabricated and they can be cut offsite ready to install doors and windows, so speeding up the construction process and reducing time and costs.

cross laminated timber

Cross Laminated Timber

This prefabricated panel also stores carbon, in the form of wood, contributing substantially to the carbon footprint of the building.

The material used for the facade is also of  timber nature, the Kebony wood, which is an environmentally friendly softwood treated with furfuyl alcohol, a bio product, which polymerises the wall cell giving more durability and resistance to the wood.


According to a recent study from Bergfald & co environmental consulting firm, this high performing timber has between 15%- 30% lower environmental impact compared to the tropical hardwood equivalents generally used, taking into account also transport and treatment.

MDH Arkitekter needs to meet the quite demanding Norwegian passive house targets so the development aims to achieve an optimal thermal performance but also a very reduced embedded energy due to the CLT which reduces the CO2 emissions to the minimum.

In regards to the systems, geothermal energy has been chosen as the most effective source for heating. Geothermal heat pumps are installed for heating and cooling, in fact lately the Government established the Norwegian Centre for Geothermal Energy Research  (CGER) which aims to push the the use of geothermal energy further in order to make it a national energy source.


The Center, established in 2009, is based in Bergen and through a network of research and industrial partners is developing a coordinated platform covering fields such as resource mapping, geological surveys, environmental impact, energy conversion and system modeling.

The scheme for Trondheim student accomodation and the way it is being built with specific focus on sustainability, renewable energy and low impact materials shows that large projects can also be built to a high standard of efficiency and their impact would be beneficial to the communities and the urban areas that they will be integrated with.



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