Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The sky is the limit for wooden buildings

Skyscraper and tall buildings have started to choke the atmosphere. In Britain alone, 47% of greenhouse gas emissions are generated from buildings, while 10% of CO2 emissions come from construction materials. Architects and engineers are now seeking new ways of building taller and faster without having such a drastic impact on the environment. And they are now looking at  the most basic building material of them all: wood.

Wooden skyscrapers could be the future of flat-pack cities around the world, says Athlyn Cathcart-Keays in an article published The Guardian. The development of engineered timber could herald a new era of eco-friendly ‘plyscrapers’. Christchurch welcomed its first multistorey timber structure this year, there are plans for Vancouver, and the talk is China could follow.

Wood in its raw form can not compete with iron or steel, therefore, layers of low-grade softwood are glued together to create timber panels. The “engineered timber” offers the prospect of a new era of eco-friendly “plyscrapers”.

For Vancouver-based architect Michael Green, the sky is the limit for wooden buildings. While nearing completion of the University of Northern British Columbia’s Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George, Green’s practice, MGA, has also drawn up plans for a 30-storey, sun-grown tower for downtown Vancouver.

If built, Green’s vision would be easily the world’s tallest wooden building, soaring past the current contenders - London’s Stadthaus at nine storeys, and the 10-storey Forte Building in Melbourne. But that’s not the main motivation, according to MGA associate Carla Smith. “To be honest, it’s not like we really care about being the tallest,” she says. “We really do see a wooden future for cities, and our aim is to get others to jump on board too.” 

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