Wooden Skyscrapers Are On The Rise
Wooden skyscrapers don’t sound like a particularly good idea, right? Well, in reality, they kinda are. Standing even to this day, the five-storey pagoda of the Temple of the Flourishing Law in the Nara prefecture of Japan is a testament to wood’s incredible durability and versatility as a construction material. According to an analysis, the central pillar that supports the structure was felled back in 594 AD and has withstood the test of time ever since.
And if a five-story building was possible by using wood more than 1,400 years ago, with today’s technology, wooden skyscrapers are not far away from the horizon. In fact, some tall wooden buildings are going up around the world as we speak. Today, the tallest is a 14-story Treet apartment block in Bergen. Norway. Another one, this time in Canada, an 18-story dormitory is set to be ready this year in 2017, as part of the University of British Columbia. And there are plans put in place to build another, 21-story Haut wooden skyscraper in Amsterdam. There are even some designs for a 40-story residential tower in Stockholm.
Wood, as a construction material, has a number of advantages over reinforced concrete. For starters, it is much lighter. This means that it can go higher without the extra weight bearing down on it. This also means that the foundations of the building can also be much smaller than a conventional reinforced concrete one. Wood is also much more flexible to tension than concrete and can better handle an earthquake.
Secondly, unlike cement, wood is a renewable source material and a great carbon sink. Trees suck up CO2 from the atmosphere to grow and then stores it. Estimates show that using wood to build a skyscraper can reduce its carbon footprint by 60 to 70 percent. The biggest concern when using wood in order to build tall is whether it can actually withstand the weight. But more recent technological developments such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), gives the material a much higher strength than conventional wood.
Here is a great infographic made by the guys at Futurism that give us some great examples and answers our questions about wooden skyscrapers.
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