Architect Michael Green is dreaming up plans of a 30-storey wood-based structure for Vancouver, dubbed “Tallwood”.
“We think we can go higher than 30 stories,” says Green, in an interview with CNN. “We stopped exploring wood around 100 years ago (with the advent of steel and concrete); now we’re looking at a whole new system using mass timber products.”
Wood is also an environmentally friendly choice, according to Green, especially when sourced from sustainable forests.
Just how eco-friendly is wood compared to steel and concrete? The manufacture of steel and concrete produces large amounts of CO2, while wood buildings lock in carbon dioxide for the life cycle of a structure. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimate that for every 10 kilos of cement created, six to nine kilos of CO2 are produced.
And what about fires? Green says we’re covered there too, since large timber performs well in fires with a layer of char insulating the structural wood beneath.
“It may sound counter-intuitive, but performing well in a fire is something inherent in large piece of wood, that’s why in forest fires the trees that survive are the largest ones,” he says.
“Really we’re at the stage where we’re able to start to show what’s possible, a bit like that Eiffel Tower moment. That was built when no one was used or understood tall structures, but it showed what could be done and just as importantly stretched the imagination.”
The article didn’t mention our biggest fear on the West Coast — earthquakes! — but we love to see inventive design and creative thinkers bringing new ideas to the table.
For more information, you can view a whole report on the subject here.