While massive megatall skyscrapers continue to push the upper limits of what technology can accomplish, a new breed of buildings is showing how to design a more sustainable skyline by going decidedly retro. The trend towards tall timber towers—often built with cross-laminated timber, a dense series of compressed panels that provide structural support—suggests steel and glass aren't the only medium for multi-story construction. These new types of structures, which now boast floor counts climbing into the double digits, offer strength and stability with a much smaller carbon footprint. And according to top engineers, they're far from the fire risks many assume when they first hear about such structures. Due to the density of their wooden skeletons, the timber frames char when burned, forming a protective layer and maintaining structural integrity.
The techniques and technology behind modern wooden towers have primarily been developed in Europe. London's nine-story Stadthaus, built in 2008, is considered a forerunner to recent efforts, and the recently finished 14-story Treet, or "Tree," apartment complex in Bergen, Norway, set to open to residents later this year, is currently the world's tallest timber structure. But success has led to new ventures breaking ground elsewhere, including North America. Many architects and proponents believe current examples have just begun to realize the potential of wooden skyscrapers; a Skidmore, Owings & Merrill study suggests 40-story wood towers are viable, and other see them as potential catalysts for sustainable forestry. Here are many of the multistory, mass wood project in the pipeline across the globe.
∙ Why a Wooden Office Tower May Symbolize the Future of Multi-Story Construction [Curbed]
∙ SHoP Designs A 10-Story Wooden West Chelsea Condo Building [Curbed New York]
∙ $3M Prize Pushes Proposed Timber Towers in NYC and Portland [Curbed]