In a TED talk given earlier this year, Vancouver-based architect Michael Green proposed that future multistory commercial and residential structures be built from wood. His rationale: “Earth grows our food…[E]arth should grow our homes.” The wood used would be compressed into giant panels that are difficult to burn, and assembled in a way that’s similar to stacking Lego blocks. Sweden has already approved the building of a 30-story tower, and the city of Vancouver is currently reviewing Green’s proposal for a similarly tall structure.
What’s the Big Idea?
Fires were much more devastating to urban landscapes a century ago, prompting the introduction of stronger building materials like iron and steel. To this day many city building codes limit the height of wooden buildings. Green argues that the wood could come from sustainably harvested forests and the current surplus of dead trees that exists due to climate change and insect infestation. He also says that sustainable construction will be necessary to accommodate the estimated three billion people who will move into cities in the near future.