High-rise wooden buildings, such as 14-storey apartment building ''The Tree'' in Norway, are altering city skylines in what the timber industry is heralding as a new era that will dent the supremacy of concrete and steel. Jim Drury reports.
Situated on the Bergen waterfront, The Tree is the tallest wooden building in the world. The 52.8 metre high structure is one of a growing number of so-called Plyscrapers altering city skylines. The timber industry say it's an environmental solution, as countries seek to reduce emissions. SOUNDBITE (English) OLE HERMAN KLEPPE, CHIEF PROJECT MANAGER, SAYING: "It will never totally displace concrete and steel, but it's definitely a part in our solution towards our struggle towards a CO2 neutral society." The architects insist that fears of fire in such timber homes are groundless. SOUNDBITE (English) OLE HERMAN KLEPPE, CHIEF PROJECT MANAGER, SAYING: "These columns and these CLT panels they don't burn. They're so thick that they don't burn. In addition, they are painted with fire resistant paint and the house is sprinkled so we have all possible ways to prevent a fire in the house. So actually, this is the safest house in Bergen regarding fire." The 14-storey structure is made of sustainable wood. But concrete makers dispute the idea that timber is greener, insisting that deforestation causes more CO2 emissions. The Tree's structure isn't entirely wooden. SOUNDBITE (English) ARCHITECT PER REIGSTAD, OF ARTEC ARCHITECTS, SAYING: "It's concrete on this roof because it adds weight and it was necessary to add weight to this wooden building because it kind of dampens the swinging." Later this year a wooden building that's two inches taller will open in Vancouver. Even taller structures are being planned in Vienna and London.