Skyscrapers made of Wood?

Picture your office building, a hotel or any skyscraper. Now, what do you usually think about when you think what those things are made of? Is it wood? No, but maybe in the future it can be.

Chicago, along with most large cities, has been defined by metal and concrete. Now, a new proposal is introducing a new material to Chicago's skyline, and to skyscrapers around the world. And you guessed it: wood.

Billions of pounds of aluminum, steel and metal are used in skyscrapers but now architects are looking into a new kind of high-rise structure built entirely from timber. This building being the River Beech Tower.

Although the concept building hasn't been started, and may never be, it’s part of research between Cambridge University, architects at Perkins + Will, and engineers at Thornton Tomasetti. Their aim is to answer ongoing questions around how, exactly, architects and engineers might bring these massive timber towers to life.

This is not the first timber wood building idea over the past few years but it is the first skyscraper envisioned in the U.S.

“I’ve always believed that every great movement in architecture has been born on the back of a structural innovation,” says Michael Green, a Vancouver architect who recently finished T3, a seven-story building in Minneapolis that is currently the tallest wooden structure in the US.

Wood is not a new building material but it has been taken over in more recent years because of its flammability.

With new innovations, wood buildings are becoming more doable. With super-strong woods that rivals the strength of steel this dream could be in reach. The environmental comparison between wood and steel would change the way cities look and breathe.

Of course there is still a lot of research to be done. These building wont pop up overnight. City skylines won’t be rippled with timber just yet but the architects who are pushing for a change can show us what’s possible. 

With the worlds tallest wooden skyscraper being planned in Tokyo we will see what comes first. 

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Published on 2017-05-30