Steel interlocking connection system for multi-storey timber modular structures

A project by Zhengyao Li

Project summary

Timber modular construction which combines the sustainability offered by timber and the efficiency provided by modular construction, is becoming increasingly popular as an efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to the conventional construction methods. Its application is currently limited to low-rise buildings, as the deformation of tall timber structures caused by wind load is hard to achieve serviceability limit with existing connection options due to the low stiffness, which is the dominant challenge in achieving tall timber structures. Connection is generally considered the weakest link in most of the modular buildings and the essential part in improving structural performance.

Fig. 1. New inter-locking connection technique for timber modular buildings

The purpose of this research is to explore a smart connection solution using interlocking techniques (Fig. 1) which is strong, flexible and easy to install for tall timber modular buildings, strengthening the performance of this kind of structure and simplifying the design and construction process. The new connection (Fig. 2) will be studied under a series of numerical and experimental testing to comprehensively evaluate its mechanical behaviours. After the completion of research, a comprehensive understanding of multi-storey timber modular construction, structure analysis and connection design will be obtained. An innovative connection system with better mechanical performance is expected to be proposed in this research for promoting the application of multi-storey timber modular structures.

Fig. 2. Prototype of novel steel interlocking connection for multi-storey timber modular buildings

In collaboration with:

  • Imperial College
  • Rhothoblaas
  • MX3D
  • Hybrid Structures
  • Storaenso