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LEAD Innovation Blog

Read our latest articles on innovation management and innovation in a wide range of industries.

Date: 04-Oct-2018
Posted by: Tanja ESCHBERGER

9 reasons why the timber skyscraper is also trendy in the city


Hardly any other modern building material has such a long tradition as wood. It is now being rediscovered for the construction of buildings in urban areas. Numerous skyscraper projects prove that timber can be used to build high up in the air. In this blog article you can read more about the trend towards timber high-rise buildings and which arguments make wood the ideal building material.

The term "wooden house" warms many of us really warm around the heart. We are thinking of a cosy mountain hut in which a wood-fired stove provides warmth. Or we can think of Canadian loggers who retreat to the log cabin they built themselves at the end of the day. Some people may even think of the red painted houses with their white planks, which form a unit with the wild and romantic landscape of Scandinavia. All these ideas have one thing in common - they all stand in the country. Wood as a building material for urban buildings seems rather unusual today - probably also because wooden houses are rarely very high.


Not only the trees but also the wooden houses grow upwards

The Gliwice transmitter tower in Poland, erected in 1935, shows that wooden constructions can reach respectable heights. The larch construction is considered to be the highest wooden tower in the world and is nicknamed the "Silesian Eiffel Tower" because of its construction. The fact that they can be built high and fit into one city at the same time is proven by another building that was completed in November 2012. The LifeCycleTower One in Dornbirn accommodates 8 floors and is 27 meters high. The building designed and built by Startup Cree by Rhomberg and architect Hermann Kaufmann is something special in many respects. The skyscraper is constructed in a particularly resource-saving wood hybrid construction method. The building now serves both as the headquarters for Cree and as proof of the functionality of timber construction systems.

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The world's tallest timber skyscraper is being built in Vienna

With this technology, even much larger and higher buildings can be realized. In Vienna Aspern, for example, the world's tallest timber skyscraper is currently being built. The HoHo Vienna will have 24 storeys and will be 84 meters high. The building, which will have a gross surface area of 25,000 square meters, is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. The construction system has been deliberately chosen simply and consists of four prefabricated, serial components: columns, joists, ceiling slabs and facade elements. A total of 75 percent of the materials used for construction are made of wood.


The 9 advantages of wood as a building material

The advantages of wood as a building material are demonstrated by the HoHo Vienna and many other timber skyscraper projects:

  1. Wood is a resource that grows faster in Austria than it is consumed. The amount of wood needed to build the HoHo grows back in the Austrian forests in one hour and 17 minutes.
  2. Wood is relatively durable, easy to repair and easy to recycle. Used roof trusses, for example, can still be used to make chic furniture. And if the material is still too old for material use, it can at least serve as an energy supplier.
  3. Wood binds CO2 even if it has long since left the forest. At the place where the felled tree stood, a new one can now be created, which in turn removes CO2 from the air. In this way, each wood improves the climate balance. The wooden construction of the HoHo saves around 2,800 tonnes of CO2 equivalents compared to a reinforced concrete version, for example. This is roughly equivalent to the CO2 emissions of 20 million passenger car kilometres.
  4. Whoever builds with wood requires less reinforced concrete. A great deal of energy is required to produce it. If the HoHo had been constructed in the usual reinforced concrete construction method, 300,000 megawatt hours more primary energy would have been necessary. By way of comparison, this amount of energy is generated by the Ybbs Persenbeug Danube power plant in one month.
  5. Wood is stable, tough and elastic at the same time. It is therefore very versatile. Wood is, for example, stronger than concrete: a cube of fir wood with an edge length of four centimeters can carry four tons.
  6. Wood is known to burn and therefore wood buildings are also considered to be more fire-hazardous. The fact is that wood behaves very "good-natured" in case of fire. If a component burns, its core is very well protected by the layer of charcoal formed by the fire. Because the component burns off relatively slowly, it also retains its load-bearing capacity for a relatively long time. Wood can therefore achieve a relatively high fire resistance class. Steel, for example, loses its load-bearing capacity much faster in the event of a fire. The HoHo may not be built at all according to the current fire protection regulations. However, the construction meets the fire protection targets.
  7. A wooden construction system, such as that used in the HoHo, makes it possible to prefabricate many components. This makes the construction more independent of weather conditions, because the individual parts can also be manufactured in factory halls. The finished components are only delivered to the construction site when they are needed. This method increases efficiency on site.
  8. Wood insulates comparatively well and has a lower U-value than other building materials, such as bricks. This means that the walls of a wooden building can be thinner. A ten-by-ten-metre timber structure can offer the occupant about 10 percent more space than a brick structure of the same size.
  9. Wood can absorb and release moisture. The building material thus ensures a healthy room climate and optimum humidity.


Conclusion: 9 reasons why the timber skyscraper is also trendy in the city

There are good reasons why wood has such a long tradition as a building material. The many advantages are particularly evident when looking at the construction of a building in terms of sustainability from a more holistic perspective than was customary until recently. From such an angle, however, it is not only wood that appears much more attractive than modern building materials such as steel, glass or concrete. Clay, too, is currently experiencing a comeback on the world's construction sites. But that's another story you can read shortly in our blog posts.

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Born in Lower Austria. At LEAD Innovation she works as Head of Innovation and focuses on agile innovation management via SCRUM.

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