The climate crisis has us questioning where people live, work, and how they get between the two. We’ve known for decades that low density sub-urban living is horrible for the environment (and people’s mental health) because it detaches people from each other due to car-based transportation. Many have argued that skyscrapers are the needed alternative because high density living is good. Architects Declare have released a letter questioning this reasoning, they argue that six stories is the ideal height for people and for the planet. A city of six story buildings is good density, the best example being Paris.
The unavoidable fact is that, in terms of resource efficiency, the embodied carbon in their construction and energy consumption in use, skyscrapers are an absurdity. The amount of steel required to resist high windspeeds, the energy required to pump water hundreds of metres above ground and the amount of floorspace taken up by lifts and services make them one of the most inefficient building types in a modern metropolis. It could also be argued that skyscrapers further detach us from any meaningful relationship with the natural world. Above about ten storeys, balconies don’t work because it is simply too windy, so high-rise apartments are hermetically sealed – as isolated from nature as possible.
Skyscrapers have been made out of concrete, glass, and steel since the first skyscraper was built. Before these building materials were used it was impossible to build that high – wood wouldn’t cut it. Wood wasn’t strong enough so steel had to be used for the core support structure.
Thanks to new techniques, that we’ve looked at before, skyscrapers can be built using wood. Wooden towers create less of a carbon footprint because cement and steel require a lot of energy to become useful whereas wood just grows on trees. In Amsterdam a 240-foot residential tower has been proposed and this is just one of many wooden tower projects being built around the world.
What developers hope will be theÂ worldâ€™s tallest timber towerÂ is currently under construction in Vancouver, and a growingÂ tall timber building trendÂ popular in Europe continues to gain momentum, with recent proposals for timber skyscrapers from cities such as London, Stockholm, and Bordeaux (Franceâ€™s fifth-largest city). Now Amsterdamâ€”whose skyline is not defined by high-rise buildingsâ€”has thrown its hat in the ring withÂ Haut, a 240-foot-tall timber residential tower designed by Dutch firmÂ Team V Architecture. Set to begin construction in the second half of 2017, Haut will be theÂ tallest timber tower in the NetherlandsÂ and possibly the world (depending on how quickly construction schedules go).
Yesterday we looked at making a key building material, cement, more green and today we’re looking at a skyscraper to be built out of wood. Wood is a much kinder material to the environment thanks to the fact that wood is renewable because it comes from trees.
The idea may sound odd given that wooden skyscrapers may not sound strong or even fire-resistant but all of this is thought out for this building which may get built in Vancouver.
â€˜Tallwoodâ€™ would be made of large panels of â€˜laminated strand lumberâ€™â€”a composite made by gluing together strands of wood.
Trees are a renewable resource, and they help to reduce air pollution. Sourcing from sustainably-managed forests could be deemed more environmentally sensitive, according to CNN.
Unlike concreteâ€”which produces about 6-9kg of carbon dioxide for every 10kg of concreteâ€”wood sucks carbon out of the atmosphere.
And contrary to popular belief, wood actually is quite fire-resistant.
â€œIt may sound counter-intuitive, but performing well in a fire is something inherent in large pieces of wood, thatâ€™s why in forest fires the trees that survive are the largest ones,â€ Green said.
The Pearl River Tower, now being erected in Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong province, is being billed as the most energy efficient superskyscraper ever built.
With wind turbines, solar panels, sun-shields, smart lighting, water-cooled ceilings and state-of-the-art insulation, the 310-metre tower is designed to use half the energy of most buildings of its size and set a new global benchmark for self-sufficiency among the planet’s high rises.
Engineers say the tower could even be enhanced to create surplus electricity if the local power firm relaxes its monopoly over energy generation.
Due for completion in October 2010, the structure currently looks no different from the many other masses of steel and concrete that are reaching for the sky in Guangzhou.
A group of architects are proposing building a skyscraper that would house a small forest to act as an air cleaner near places of pollution production – a vertical forest.
‘It will also cool the air during the hot summer months via the temperature-lowering properties of hundreds of trees.
‘We thought of the CO2 Scraper as a way to place trees in areas where they would ordinarily be difficult or impossible to plant such as near a factory, major road or perhaps even in a densely populated urban area.
‘The idea here was to imagine a structure with relatively small footprint in terms of the amount of ground it covers.’
Scientist and sustainability specialist Joep Meijer, founder of theRightenvironment, has praised the ‘outstanding’ design.
He said: ‘The CO2 Scraper is an outstanding example of the kind of ideas we need to look at now.