Super-powerful adhesives are being used to create laminated wood that is as strong as concrete reinforced with steel, and building skyscrapers from the new wood laminates isn’t just a theory, it’s a practical reality that points towards a new direction in architecture.
Cross laminated timber is made from smaller planks that are bonded with polyurethane adhesive, and architects and environmentalists are excited by the prospect of building wooden skyscrapers. The plans for the first of these, a 174ft building commissioned by the University of British Columbia as a student residence, were already approved in 2015.
The revolutionary new concept offers a number of benefits. Wooden skyscrapers will be more aesthetically pleasing, construction sites will produce less waste and noise pollution, and the buildings will be completed more quickly. In addition, the emissions generated in concrete and steel manufacture will be eliminated while the wooden construction material itself represents carbon sequestration from the atmosphere.
Architect Michael Green says that constructing a 20 story concrete and steel building would cause 1,200 tons of CO2 emissions, while a wooden building of the same size would represent CO2 sequestration of 3,100 tons – the equivalent of removing 900 cars from the road for a full year.