“Big Wood” Imagines Future Skyscrapers Built Out Of Wood
March 14, 2013
We’ve written about “woodscrapers” before — architect Michael Green’s idea for Miesian-like buildings constructed of load-bearing, fire-resistant timber, sustainably-sourced beams — and how they make a good case for using wood to build tomorrow’s (and today’s) office and residential towers. “Big Wood,” a conceptual project by architect Michael Charters submitted to the eVolo 2013 Skyscraper Competition, takes Green’s premise and runs wild with it. Instead of the restrained elegance of the prototypical “woodscraper,” Big Wood (nice name, guy) is an exuberant mix of BIG and Minecraft, complete with acres of green roofs. Continue.
Big Wood envisions a large mixed-use complex on the banks of the Chicago River in the city’s South Loop. The siting is intentional, as Charters notes: as the birthplace of the modern skyscraper, “Chicago is an optimal location for a prototype in mass timber construction.” As Inhabitat points out, it’s possible to build a 20-to-30-story tower out of wood, a renewable resources that would cut down on the building industry’s excesses (i.e. astronomical carbon emissions). Hybrid construction techniques combining wood with steel and concrete would allow architects like Charters and Green to draw up and build even taller structures.
The project crystallizes what Green, in elaborating on the benefits of building tall (and wide) with wood, called “the Eiffel Tower moment,” whereby construction technologies have progressed to the point that timber can and should be put to the test. Big Wood proposes just that, an audacious display of form and structure that would catalyze a “new renaissance in high-rise construction, changing forever the shape of our cities.”