The latest TALLEST Timber Tower

Wednesday 21 Feb 2018

On the occasion of the announcement of" Yet another "World's tallest timber tower" going up in Norway" here is what Lloyd Alter had to say on

It may be treesonous of me to say this, but we should stop this silly competition to be tallest.

If you search TreeHugger you will find eight posts with the words "tallest timber tower". Here is the latest- an 18 story building in Brumunddal, a small town in Norway.

When you look at a photograph or Google map of Brumundal, the first thing you might wonder is- why does anyone need an 18 story building here, especially one that is pushing the edge of the technical envelope like this?

The second thing you might wonder is, what happened to Brock Commons at 18 stories, isn't it the world's tallest timber tower? Well, no, because evidently the rules, as set by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) that runs the world's tallest buildings lists, have changed, and it is now calling buildings like Brock Commons "wood-concrete Hybrids" because it has a concrete core of elevators and fire exits instead of being 100 percent wood. It's not pure enough.

I am wondering if perhaps we are at the point where this competition to be the tallest timber tower is just getting silly, especially when the Scandinavians are brilliant at designing mid-rise buildings that make far more sense in wood.

After meeting Anthony Thistleton and and discussing his Dalston Lanes project, I wrote:

Neither Thistleton or Waugh have much time for the super-tall wood towers that architects are competing to build, and prefer to build mid-rise. I think they are right, that it is a better typology for CLT and wood construction. That's why I have written that With wood on the rise, it's time to bring back the Euroloaf. This is what wood buildings want to be.

Writing in Dezeen, Clare Farrow says much the same thing:

In fact, Andrew Waugh's argument is that we don't necessarily need to be thinking of wooden skyscrapers in London, however seductive the concept is, but rather of increasing density across the board. He is thinking more in terms of 10-15 storey buildings, which many believe to be the comfortable height for human beings. What is needed, he argues, is a broader political understanding of the potential of engineered timber.

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