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Two Timber Skyscraper Towers Set For Construction

There are many reasons why timber is being advocated as a structural material for tall buildings. Unlike concrete and steel, it is a renewable resource.

Other potential benefits include improved construction timelines, reduced costs, better fire resistance, and a reduction in overall building weight. 

Proposals are currently being developed to create a one million square foot mixed-use tower in central London. It would contain over 1,000 new flats and be integrated within the Barbican. PLP Architecture and engineering firm Smith and Wallwork are working with Cambridge University’s Department of Architecture to develop the design for Oakwood Timber Tower, which is the first in a planned series of wood skyscrapers. PLP is presently working on additional proposals for a 31-storey timber skyscraper in Western Europe. 

Another timber high-rise in the works is a 70-storey tower in Tokyo’s Marunouchi district. Known as the W350, it is scheduled to be finished in 2041. The builder, Sumitomo Forestry, is replacing concrete with a 9 to 1 ratio of timber to steel in the mixed-use structure, which will contain residences, commercial space, office space, and a hotel. Greenery will be planted throughout the complex, creating a virtual forest, and wrap-around balconies will be filled with lush wildlife. To prevent the building from being warped by wind, earthquakes, and other lateral forces, braces will be placed diagonally in shafts compiled from beams and columns. 

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The research that produced these two timber skyscraper concepts looks forward to create a new style of building instead of simply copying the forms of concrete and steel construction. The transition to wood construction may have a positive larger impact in urban locations, and offers opportunities to not only re-examine traditional building aesthetics but also the structural methods that dictate their design. Just as major breakthroughs in concrete, glass, and steel design changed the way buildings were developed in the 19th and 20th centuries, innovations in wood construction could result in entirely new city experiences in the 21st century. 

The wood used in these new buildings is considered a ‘crop’. The worldwide quantity of crop forest is presently increasing, with Canada alone capable of producing over 15 million square metres of crop in the next 70 years. The wood yield would be enough to shelter around a billion people. 

At present, the tallest timber building in the world is a 14-storey block of flats in Bergen, Norway. The proposals for London projects include a 300-metre high timber tower, which would make it the second tallest building in the capital. 

The most obvious concern for residents of timber homes is risk of fire. However, the project team said that the building would meet every fire regulation currently in place for concrete and steel buildings. 

According to recent research, timber buildings can have beneficial effects on the health of their occupants. It has even been suggested that children in schools constructed from timber can learn better than in concrete school buildings. 

Specialists in Construction Insurance


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