Could Wooden Skyscrapers be the Future?

By Ross Johnson on at

Architects have got wood for trees -- gigantic tree-houses are popping up all over the place. First came Milan's smog-reducing 'Bosco Verticale' or 'Vertical Forests,' apartment blocks clad in living trees. Now designer Michael Green has outlined a new way of thinking about urban architecture.

Rather than the steel-and-concrete structures that have dominated the industry for the past century, he suggests that new techniques could be used to create towers from timber. Responsibly-sourced wood, he argues, offers a fantastic alternative construction material -- removing carbon from the atmosphere and locking it away in our buildings, as well as requiring much lower quantities of energy to produce.

And the UK could well be one of the first countries to see such structures. Whereas the law in nations like Russia restricts combustible buildings to three storeys, the United Kingdom has no such limit -- provided that each project be individually evaluated to demonstrate a minimum level of safety performance.

With further testing required before any wooden building on this scale could be attempted, it'll be a while before we see any giant timber homes or offices. But if primary concerns such as fire safety can be addressed, it might not be long before these tower blocks are going up all over the world, successfully competing with the existing steel and concrete methods and reducing any given building's carbon footprint by up to 75 per cent. [Webcbc via ArchDaily]

Image Credit: Michael Green Architecture ('The Case for Tall Wooden Buildings' report)