Wooden Skyscrapers?

Wood is a material that has truly withstood the test of time. For centuries, wood had been a popular substance for building such things as houses, bridges, and small buildings. In a time that is gripped with continuous technological growth, the question arose as to why wood innovations were not advancing as quickly as other materials; such as glass and stone. However, upon doing research on the subject, I was able to find innovations of wood that fascinated me; the most interesting one being the advancement in wooden buildings. Wood has not typically been the most dominant material in high-rise buildings, but it seems as though this is set to change very soon. Architect Michael Green believes he can make “wooden skyscrapers that stand 100 storey’s tall.” (Green) He is actually in the process of prototyping this idea with a 30-storey wooden building in Vancouver. More projects are planned in Austria and Norway.

The initial interest in creating wood-dominant structures came from the attempt to make buildings more environmentally friendly. Green believes that high-rise wooden buildings are cheaper to build than those built with other materials such as steel and concrete, as well as have a smaller carbon footprint. Wood buildings lock in carbon dioxide for the lifecycle of a structure, while the manufacture of steel and concrete produces large amounts of CO2. Wood structures are also fire resistant; with a layer of char insulating the structural wood underneath. Green declares, “Really we’re at the stage where we’re able to start to show what’s possible, a bit like that Eiffel Tower moment. That was built when no one was used or understood tall structures, but it showed what could be done and just as importantly stretched the imagination.” With this in mind, I believe that wooden structures are worth further exploration. We have not yet reached the limits of this material’s capabilities.

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