Wooden Skyscraper
Wooden Skyscraper
technology application

Wooden Skyscraper

updatedOct 27, 2022

Valentyn Semenov @ stock.adobe.com

Fire-resistant skyscrapers, made of engineered wood, as a more ecological alternative to concrete buildings.
Fire-resistant skyscrapers, made of engineered wood, as a more ecological alternative to concrete buildings.

Lighter and more energy-efficient than concrete buildings, wooden skyscrapers are a durable and cheaper solution to current construction models in cities with high population densities. Vertically designed, these urban towers employ engineered wood (usually cross-laminated timber and/or glued laminated timber) instead of concrete or old-growth wood to accommodate housing projects or mixed-use buildings.

Structurally, engineered wood is constructed with perpendicular strips of wood glued together, forming sturdy beams. Such massive beams and columns become possible due to the aggregation processes of smaller wood pieces and screws. These materials resemble the characteristics of old-growth wood in strength and resistance.

Comparing to a regular concrete building, the process requires a longer planning time using Building Information Modeling. This helps decide the exact size of the building elements. These elements are then prefabricated in specialized mass timber factories, reducing waste, the number of workers, and construction time. Also, construction with timber can be modular and adaptable to variable weather conditions. In some instances, wooden skyscrapers use a small amount of concrete in the building process: in the foundations, stairways, elevator shafts, or/and supporting beams.

In terms of fire resistance, due to the dense nature of the timber panels used to make such structures, the panels do not burn through: they char only on the surface. Another option to protect these buildings from fire is to cover them with fire-proof gypsum boards.

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