Architecture, Has The Wooden Skyscraper Revolution Arrived? - Cnn

Architecture, Has The Wooden Skyscraper Revolution Arrived? - Cnn

Has the wooden skyscraper revolution finally arrived?

Advocates for wooden skyscrapers claim that, compared to existing alternatives, these towers are quicker to construct, stronger and, perhaps most surprisingly, safer in the event of a fire.

14.2.2020

Advocates for wooden skyscrapers claim that, compared to existing alternatives, these towers are quicker to construct, stronger and, perhaps most surprisingly, safer in the event of a fire.

Wooden towers -- sometimes dubbed 'plyscrapers' -- were once the preserve of conceptual designers. But thanks to changes in lowered costs and shifting attitudes towards the material, they are quickly becoming a reality.

1,148-foot-tall wooden skyscraper in 2041 to mark its 350th anniversary. A digital rendering of PLP Architecture's bold proposal for a 984-foot-tall tower in the heart of London. Credit: PLP Architecture But while these architects clearly believe in mass timber's structural potential, there remain very practical barriers to the realization of such projects: building regulations. The latest update to the International Building Code (IBC), which many countries and US states use as a base model for their own regulations, will allow timber buildings to rise to 18 stories for the first time. The decision is significant given that, before 2018, when Oregon became the first US state to allow 18-story wooden buildings, nowhere in America permitted anything higher than six. The changes will come into effect in 2021 -- though they are only advisory. Some countries, such as Norway, already has looser height restrictions in place, while other countries and US states may opt for tighter building codes than those outlined in the IBC. What traditional buildings can teach architects about sustainability And there remains limited data about how large wooden towers will respond, in the long-term, to a variety of risks, from extreme weather to termites and damp. The most contentious question remains fire risk. The National Association of State Fire Marshals, for instance, opposed the recent update to the International Building Code, citing a lack of requisite fire testing, among other concerns. In a statement, the organization said the changes were the result of"professional judgment" rather than science, adding that allowing larger wooden structures"without proper testing and justification" was"premature and would impact the fire suppression environment significantly." The concrete industry has also been a vocal critic. According to Build With Strength , a US coalition formed by the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, cross-laminated timber is"an unproven material that poses major fire risks, especially in high-rise construction." In addition to concerns about deforestation, the group says sprinklers are ineffective at preventing blazes from spreading through wood buildings. It also cites research suggesting that exposed CLT panels can lead to the"re-flare and re-growth" of fires. Supporters of mass timber, however, contend that it's not only safe -- it's actually preferable, as wood burns in a more predictable way. Studies have also shown that a seven-inch-thick CLT floor has a fire resistance of two hours , which the US Department of Agriculture's Forest Department says"will address concerns about the fire performance of wood buildings and help take them to new heights." Steel, on the other hand, is prone to sudden collapse, said Elgsaas. At certain temperatures it can"lose its load-bearing capacity and turn to spaghetti." The main tower of the Sara Cultural Centre in Skellefteå, Sweden, will become one of the world's tallest mass timber structures when it opens in 2021. Credit: White Arkitekter Green compares mass timber to a big log placed on a campfire -- it doesn't catch light immediately, and it burns slowly once it does. "In a big catastrophic fire, generally, if you ask firefighters to go into a heavy timber building versus a steel building, they would much rather go into (the former)," he said."Because although the beams are charred, they can quickly tell how much char, and therefore how much leftover wood, there is." Regulations invariably lag behind technology, Elgsaas added, with each completed tower helping to ease concerns around efficacy and safety. "The more buildings we see that push the limit, the easier it will be to propose new building codes and raise the bar on what's possible," he said. Shifting culture With shifts in regulation, will come a transformation in cultural attitudes toward wood, Green argues. While a move to timber architecture could represent the most fundamental change in how we construct skyscrapers since the early 20th century, in places with long tradition of wooden buildings, such as northern Europe or North America, it may be less a revolution and more a renaissance. "We used to build big, giant wood buildings in North America and around the world, but we really stopped when concrete came about," Green explained, adding that large city fires dampened enthusiasm for the material. In the 1840s, the decade that reinforced concrete was invented, New York, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Toronto were all devastated by blazes that quickly spread through densely-packed timber-frame buildings. "There were some big city fires, and naturally we said, 'Well, let's not build with combustible materials any more' (...) We knew we could build these big buildings, but we just stopped talking about it." Related video: Japan's wood-roofed National Stadium opens ahead of Tokyo 2020 Olympics In hyper-modern cities with little history of building with wood, like Shenzhen or Dubai for instance, there may be limited enthusiasm about its return. Winning developers and architects over, Green argued, should revolve around what he sees as timber's design advantages. "Reframing the notions of what modernity is, what forms should be, what makes people more comfortable and what makes the quality of space better, has to be related to human issues -- of feeling less stressed, being healthier, being more productive, learning quicker," he said."These have to be the defining principles of good design." Read more: CNN

Jet fuel can’t melt wooden beams. Good to know. These advocates can stay on the 50th floor. Oh no! Your right wood is totally safer then stone or concrete in the event of a fire. I wonder if people even hear what their saying anymore. Verbalbarfing No. Because trees are needed to clean the air so that we can breath.

Advocates for QE made some extravagant claims too... I’m sexually aroused Wooden skyscrapers? Sounds like a brilliant concept. Just hope they make it termite proof, or else fires will be the last of its problems. Build one of these in Houston. The Next Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Skyscrapers Not just wood, but plywood. Totally sounds safer, stronger, and more fire resistant than steel and concrete.

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Sure, we just have too many trees. Deforestation is totally okay. And a wooden structure in a category 5 storm will definitely be fine. Yup, ok. I’ll pass Trees are overrated anyways lets just cut em all down f it That is total crap ! Stop it.

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