Would You Believe It – A Skyscraper Built From Timber

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Written By Mohsen Salami

Japanese architects have a crazy plan to build the world’s tallest wooden skyscraper reaching more than 1,100 feet into the heavens.

Only the steel heart of the tower will be metal – about 10% of the structure is metal to add rigidity in case of earthquakes.

The 1,150-foot W350 Tower (350 metre) will have 70 floors and provide more than 8,000 homes in the Japanese capital of Tokyo – a city regularly hit by earthquakes.

Every level will have balconies and a lush, green garden planted with trees, shrubs and plants.

The cost will hit around £4 billion – double the build price of a conventional glass and steel skyscraper.

Fire safety concerns

The skyscraper is planned to celebrate the 350th anniversary of timber firm Sumitomo Forestry and expected to be finished by 2041.

Although constructing a wooden skyscraper so high is a new idea, building out of wood is not.

The current tallest wooden building is a 53-metre high block of apartments for students in Vancouver, Canada.

Minneapolis, USA, has an 18-floor office block.

One worry for the architects is how the building will cope in a fire. The main component is cross-laminated timber, which is fire resistant and stays more stable than steel at high temperatures.

Happiness grows from trees

Wooden buildings are more environmentally friendly than those made from concrete and steel. Between 55 and 8% of global emissions emanate from traditionally constructed skyscrapers, compared with almost zero from timber skyscrapers.

Japan is also heavily forested with a large supply of timber for building. Almost two-thirds of the island nation is covered with forest.

The Sumitomo web site notes ‘happiness grows from trees’ and that cities become forests from building out of timber rather than concrete.

“We want to expand the possibilities for wooden buildings as a road map for future technology, such as the development of building methods, environmentally-friendly technologies, and trees that become resources and building materials,” said the company.

The timber skyscraper would rank around the 44th tallest building in the world – significantly behind the Burj Khalifa in Dubai at 2,717 feet, although this will be dwarfed by the 3,281 Jeddah Tower under construction in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.