W350 tower concept art

70-storey wooden skyscraper planned for Tokyo

Image credit: Sumitomo Forestry

Sumitomo Forestry, a Japanese company, is drawing up plans to build the highest wooden skyscraper in the world.

This project is intended to mark the company’s 350th anniversary, which it reaches in 2041. The enormous building is expected to cost 600bn yen (£4bn) – approximately double the cost of a conventional skyscraper – although costs could fall in the coming years thanks to technological advances.

Wood is considered an environmentally friendly building material compared with concrete and metals, given that it is easily replenishable and stores carbon dioxide. Cross-laminated wood – composed of crossed-over strips of wood laminated with glue – is fire resistant and recent scientific advantages could even give timber the strength and toughness of steel and other construction materials.

Inside the W350 tower

Sumitomo Forestry

Image credit: Sumitomo Forestry

The W350 skyscraper, if completed, will be 350m tall and 70 storeys high - dwarfing the world’s current tallest wooden tower, the 50m tall Brock Commons Tallwood House at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

The new tower would have space for approximately 8,000 flats and incorporate plants in its balconies at every level.

“The aim is to create environmentally friendly and timber-utilising cities, where they become forests through increased use of wooden architecture for high-rise buildings,” the company said.

Sumitomo Forestry plans to use 180,000 cubic metres of wood from Japan’s expansive forests and a small amount of steel, which will comprise 10 per cent of the structure. The steel would support the structure in the case of earthquakes with diagonal vibration-control braces at the centre of the skyscraper.

Tokyo – the most populous city in the world and also among the most vertical – already boasts a large number of wooden buildings. In 2010, the Promotion of Use of Wood in Public Buildings Act was passed in Japan, requiring all small government buildings (with up to two storeys) to be built with some wood.

It has been suggested that transforming existing cities into “green” cities is an undervalued weapon in the fight to mitigate climate change, thanks to the predicted expansion in the number of city dwellers in coming decades.

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