How Wooden Skyscrapers Are Really Happening


Back in 1889, Chicago's 10-story Rand McNally Building became the world's first all-steel-framed skyscraper, starting the age of the highrise tower.

Since then, all towers have been made of metal, glass and concrete. But now it seems that the impossible is happening and that wood may replace steel in some highrises.

Driven largely by environmental concerns, a number of highrise projects around the world are being planned with wooden internal frames.

The most impressive of these is the “Canopia” proposal in Bordeaux, France, which is a mixed-use development, featuring a 50-metre-tall residential building made of wood.

The tower, designed by Sou Fujimoto Architects and laisné roussel, would be one of the tallest wooden buildings in the world.

Interior view of Canopia[/caption]The wooden frame for the high-rise building has been meticulously studied since the tender phase, ensuring that the different technical construction problems were solved.

The project uses silver fir and spruce beams and posts. Floors are made from cross-laminated timber, of either silver fir or spruce, using the Mathis ATEX technique for high-rise buildings.

Glu-lam timber bars are used in the post-and-beam frame to stabilize the tower.

Located at the intersection of Rue Cazeaux and Rue Beck in Bordeaux’s Gare Saint Jean neighbourhood, Canopia sits on a 17,000 sqm plot, and is part of a larger development plan in the Amargnac section of the Bordeaux Saint-Jean Belcier Urban Development Zone.

The Canopia highrise is not the only wood framed tower in planning.

Related Reading: Design Of Wooden Skyscraper For London Unveiled University of British Columbia wooden tower[/caption]It will house 404 students in 272 studios and 33 four-bedroom units, and feature study and social gathering spaces.

And Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the global design firm that created Chicago's iconic Sears (now Willis) Tower, has developed a plan for building a 42-story apartment tower out of wood.

Michael Green Architecture (MGA) and DVVD has also teamed up with REI France developments to propose the world's tallest wood building in Paris, called Baobab. The carbon-neutral proposal, developed as part of the city’s innovative Réinventer Paris competition, aims to alleviate the city's urban housing challenges.

“Just as Gustave Eiffel shattered our conception of what was possible a century and a half ago, this project can push the envelope of wood innovation with France in the forefront. The Pershing Site is the perfect moment for Paris to embrace the next era of architecture,” said Michael Green, Principal of MGA.

Baobab, Paris[/caption] 

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