Toyo Ito and NTU Unveil Gaia – Asia’s Largest Mass Timber Building

Photo Credits | NTU

The project titled “Gaia” named after the Greek Godess of Earth has been designed for the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Becoming the eighth building on the campus to achieve the Green Mark Platinum (Zero Energy) which is the highest award issued by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore, recognising buildings that consume as much energy as they produce.  

The mass timber design is now reportedly the largest of its kind with a total of 6 floors, a length of 220m and occupying a floorspace of 468,000 square feet. The tallest timber tower is  Mjøstårnet, located in Norway reaching 18 floors.   

The building project is built using an innovative construction technology known as mass engineered timber. The green technology was first adopted for the construction of NTU’s mega sports hall, The Wave, launched in 2017. The two buildings are the works of Japanese architect, Toyo Ito, a Pritzker Prize recipient known for designs that incorporate elements of nature. 

The building is the new home of NTU’s Business School and comes equipped with a 190-seat auditorium, 12 large lecture halls, seminar rooms, laboratories, graduate student and faculty offices, and multiple classroom spaces. Bricks held over from the former NTU Innovation Centre were also repurposed as a decorative wall inside the new structure. 

The project boasts a multitude of impressive sustainable features including; an array of PV panels installed on the roof that contribute to 516,000 kWh of energy, an air-conditioning system that uses passive cooling coils to create a natural convection cycle to cool the air, and a passive ventilation system through sun shading fins along the façade, open areas, terraces and air wells.  

Structurally, it consists mostly of sustainably sourced mass timber, which is made up of a roughly equal mixture of CLT (cross-laminated timber) and Glulam (glued laminated timber). 

Timber used for the construction of Gaia were sourced from sustainably managed forests, which means new trees are planted to replace those that are harvested. The carbon offset from planting trees to replace those used in Gaia totals 5,800 tons of CO2 – 

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