Knock on wood!

By Sergio González | 10:15

30-stories wooden building on its way up in Sweeden, March 2013

Perhaps it was a Scandinavian cave designer who was the first one to point out it was about time to stop living in caves -like cave people– and move to cool wooden buildings, but in any way, whenever there was woods and people present the result was always a wooden city. For hundreds of years, we built our homes out of wood. It was a cheap material and much more abundant than nowadays, though it wasn’t meant to last forever. 

Everybody building their houses with timber –usually without any urban planning– meant cities were prone to fires, whenever somebody forgot to put out a candle here or there. From the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD to medieval London or Chicago in the 19th century, flames devastated cities everywhere, sometimes more than once.

Industrialization solved the problem by bringing concrete, steel and glass into our houses and timber was released to furniture, yet never forgotten. Who wouldn’t like having a wooden lodge in a beautiful mountain village to appreciate the warm feeling of fine wood?

Modern day anti-fire paintings and high density compressed timber have decreased fire risk greatly, so much that some architects are rescuing wood from the past as the next best material. They claim it’s a far more eco-friendly alternative. Wood is cleaner than steel or concrete to produce and the process consumes much less energy. Wooden buildings also help reduce our footprint since they store CO2 instead of releasing it (housing accounts for half our emissions).

Michael Green is a Canadian architect who inherited his passion, love and respect from wood from his grandfather who taught him to ‘honor a tree’s life’. Michael started wondering why we make only wooden buildings a few stories high when trees can achieve sky-scraping heights (don’t miss his TED talk) and he proposes a whole new form of housing, a revolution: living in 30 stories wooden skyscrapers to avoid climate change.

He is aware most people wouldn’t like the idea of living in a building made entirely out of wood but he points out that the timber used redefines the whole concept and it’s something to overcome in our minds not in technical or scientific development.

Sevilla’s Metropol Parasol, a huge wooden bridge over downtown

If we ever get used to living in a wooden urban world it’s yet to be answered but to make up your mind there are a few modern constructions made of timber already out there. In Germany they are testing out a wooden wind turbine for cleaner energy production. The 100 meter high prototype has been set over the hills near Hannover and the first results are very promising according to its designers, TimberTower. A lighter yet strong structure means 20% less of building materials and around 30% more energy produced.

Actually, there’s a trending movement in German design towards wood and steel hybridization performed by projects like Wood Solutions or CREE, which is already building several ‘LyfeCycle Towers’ in Europe and has plans to build some more of these hybrids in the USA. Another architect in love with this trend is Jürgen Mayer who recently saw the inauguration of his colossal design The Metrosol Parasol in Seville, Spain. A 150×70 m wooden boulevard 25 meters high above the ground that still fascinates and irritates locals and visitors in Seville’s downtown.

Photo credit: Topplanternin

Photo credit: Daniel Villafruela

  • posted by Hotel in Jaipur | 06 May 2013, 12:52,

    Anyway, you bring me here some ‘o that wood and then I’ll get right to work! i like it.

  • posted by Courtney Imel | 06 May 2013, 18:57,

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  • posted by steam a telecharger | 16 September 2014, 10:16,

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