A high percentage of WAN’s featured projects sport glass facades, concrete swathes and shimmering metallic panels, as these modern tools now outweigh the more traditional timber in building construction. For years we have been lectured on the fire hazards of building tall towers from wood and the detrimental effect that large-scale tree felling can have on the natural environment.
In Hong Kong and India, many construction sites rely on bamboo scaffolding during the assembly of chic contemporary buildings and the WAN Newsdesk is regularly approached with modest wooden schemes such as Benjamin Garcia’s Bamboo House and TYIN tegnestue’s reused boathouse at Aure Kommune.
In contrast, Michael Green’s design for the Tall Wood Tower suggests a 30-storey timber skyscraper in the city of Vancouver as part of a series of wooden structures in Norway and Austria. Laminated Strand Lumber beams are introduced in replacement of the generic steel beams, with small wooden fibres glued in layers and set under intense pressure.
The fire hazards presented by tall wooden buildings have led to much controversial content by online media surrounding Green’s designs, however he suggests that in a blaze the exterior of the beams would char, insulating the structural members within.
While felling large volumes of trees for construction is frowned upon in many regions, there is an argument that if the Canadian forests from which Green would source his timber from are well managed, the energy saved from utilising locally-sourced, renewable materials would outweigh the initial environmental cost.
Green’s research documents on multi-storey wooden structures are readily available online and can be viewed here.