Because I have been researching wooden structures for my final paper, I’ve been surprised and impressed by the different types of completely wooden buildings that exist, and I began to wonder whether or not a skyscraper built completely of wood would be possible. The largest completely wooden structure that exists today is the temple Todai-ji in Japan, which is 57 meters wide, 50 meters deep, and 40 meters high. The Todai-ji temple was built in the style of traditional Japanese architecture in 728. The largest wooden structure built by modern methods of construction is Odate Jukai Dome, also in Japan. The site area of Odate Jukai Dome is 130 square meters, and the height is 52 meters. A wooden truss arch is used for the roof.
Recently, Japanese architect Toshihito Yokouchi has proposed the construction of a 72 story, 339 meter tall skyscraper built completely out of wooden. Yokouchi proposed the design of a wooden skyscraper based on the argument that a completely wooden structure would be much more environmentally friendly, especially compared to some of the most common materials used in todays architecture, like concrete and iron. Yokouchi also claims that wood can become the perfect new popular material for building if current technology can only manage to fix it’s two main weaknesses: rotting and flammability.
Wooden architecture can be very sustainable. Many wooden buildings, mostly temples and shrines, have existed for hundreds of years in Japan, withstanding the test of time. The oldest wooden structure is a temple in Japan: Horyu-ji, which was built 1400 years ago. It is still functioning and has withstood countless earthquakes and the regular wear and tear of weather.
I personally agree with Yokouchi, and think it is fair proposal to focus on the use of wood as a primary building material, specifically for small to medium sized buildings, like houses. If a wooden skyscraper is indeed possible, I believe it could revolutionize the architectural world, offering wood as an eco-friendly, natural, and sustainable material for building. However, I cannot foresee that traditional Japanese architecture, which makes the majority of examples of completely wooden structures possible, will be anywhere near as functional for modern skyscrapers as a combination of wood and modern technology would be. In addition, traditional Japanese architectural design takes quite a bit longer to build with, and requires much more human labor than do modern techniques and materials.