Wooden skyscrapers

Timber skyscraper designed in collaboration with engineers.

Timber skyscraper designed in collaboration with PLP Architecture and Smith and Wallwork engineers (credit: PLP Architecture).

Carbon-heavy construction materials such as steel and concrete are major contributors to global carbon emissions.

The carbon-heavy materials add billions of tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere every year and account for around 8% of global CO2 emissions, annually.

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council-funded researchers at Cambridge University are working with architects, businesses and governments all around the world. They are working to make our city skylines greener over the next 10 years by utilising specially designed wood in large-scale construction.

Their research has already contributed to changing the understanding of bio-based construction around the world in an effort to address the climate emergency.

Engineering timber

Wooden skyscrapers are made of cross-laminated timber panels, which is a special lattice of engineered wood. It needs no high-temperature manufacturing process, it stores carbon from the atmosphere, and it’s fire-resistant.

Dr Michael Ramage, Reader in Architecture and Engineering at the University of Cambridge and lead for the Centre for Natural Material Innovation said:

I imagine a future where we are growing our buildings, where our buildings are made from a tree not too far away and when it was cut down it is replaced by two or more new ones. Our population is growing rapidly, so we need to build cities more sustainably.

Wooden buildings are already widely constructed around the world, but larger and taller buildings can be greener too. The next stage of their research is to plan and build large wooden skyscrapers and demonstrate how schools and housing can and should be built from engineering timber.

Last updated: 8 July 2021

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