Analysis: When will we see wooden skyscrapers?


Timber frames have begun to break into commercial and higher-rise uses thanks to technological breakthroughs. Ike Ijeh speaks to the pioneers

For more than 100 years steel and concrete have been the default structural frame materials for tall buildings. Accordingly, while western society has embraced wooden buildings across various typologies, the idea of a wooden high-rise or even mid-rise building has been something of an oxymoron; an impossibility from the realms of eco-extremism and fantasy fiction. 

There are various reasons for this. Over hundreds of years a succession of devastating urban conflagrations, not least the Great Fire of London in 1666, have ensured that deep in the public consciousness the idea of using wood on a significant scale is inextricably linked with the threat of fire. And while wood does generate feelings of warmth, nature and domesticity, it is known to bend, warp and soften and is thereby routinely dismissed as structurally inferior to its sturdier inorganic counterparts. 

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