World’s Tallest Wooden Building Set for Construction in Norway

world's tallest wood building

Stretching a full 173 feet into the sky, a 14-story tower made primarily of wood is set to be built in Norway, making it the world’s tallest. With so many wooden superstructures on the docket, the title is constantly up for grabs, and this sustainable housing project in Bergen may not hold onto it for long. But it’s a testament to just how popular wooden towers are getting as governments around the world relax their building restrictions, paving the way for a whole new world of wooden architecture.

Ole Kleppe and Rune Abrahamsen didn’t intend to create the world’s tallest building when planning their cost-efficient, modular high-rise, which is primarily prefabricated. But after their project was approved, a competing bridge close by meant additional height was needed. Norway previously only allowed buildings nine stories tall, so the team had to simultaneously push for new laws and innovate a safe, strong structure.

It’s fitting that this kind of record-setting innovation using wood should occur in Norway, where wooden buildings up to 800 years old are still standing. The architects took their inspiration from Norwegian timber bridges, basically flipping the truss structure vertically.

“We have a lot of experience building large timber bridges in Norway,” says Pbrahamsen. “We were confident that with this tech we could build tall.”

The project, called Treet, is currently under construction. It could be surpassed before long as the University of British Columbia is planning an 18-story student housing project made of wood, scheduled to be completed in 2017. Read more about the tech and building processes involved at the Journal of Commerce.

Builders of World’s Tallest Skyscrapers Plan 42-Story Wood High-Rise

timber-towerYet another vision for the future of architecture sees not concrete and steel but wood as a primary sustainable material for even the tallest of skyscrapers. Architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has embarked on the Timber Tower Research Project, a design for a 42-story tower that would be the tallest structure ever made of wood. It would be constructed using ‘mass timber products’ including cross-laminated timber and mixes of wood species in the mass timbers.

SOM are the builders behind the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) of Chicago, One World Trade Center and other super-tal structures. Their plans would use a small amount of concrete in the form of beams for added support at the most highly stressed locations of the structure: the connecting joints.

According to the architects, “this system plays to the strengths of both materials and allows the engineer to apply sound tall building engineering fundamentals. The result is believed to be an efficient structure that could compete with reinforced concrete and steel while reducing the carbon footprint by 60 to 75%.”

Previously, architect Michael Green produced an instruction manual on wooden skyscrapers to encourage other architects and builders to consider the use of wood more often. A contest called Timber in the City challenges students to use wood as a main material for tall structures, and some multi-story complexes made almost entirely of wood have already started to pop up around the world.