Building a skyscraper? Forget about steel and concrete, says architect Michael Green, and build it out of … wood. As he details in this intriguing talk, it’s not only possible to build safe wooden structures up to 30 stories tall (and, he hopes, higher), it’s necessary.
Michael Green wants to solve architecture’s biggest challenge — meeting worldwide housing demand without increasing carbon emissions — by building with carbon-sequestering wood instead of concrete and steel.
Why you should listen
Michael Green is calling for rapid systemic change in the way we build. To end the global housing and climate crises, we need to get past innovation-stifling regulations and well-meaning but misguided ideas popularized by mainstream media. His proposal: Forget steel, straw, concrete, shipping containers, and rammed earth. Use wood to erect urban skyscrapers. “When the Eiffel Tower was built, nobody thought it could be done. Now it’s a symbol of Paris,” Green told the Vancouver Sun. “Projects like it really triggered an innovation on how cities were built. Man moves by innovation and [by] aiming for the moon.”Green, whose projects range from retail boutiques and housing in North America to a sustainable community in Asia, explores the plausibility of tall wood buildings — the costs, benefits, and engineering challenges — in an extensive 2012 white paper. The TED Talent Search winner also teaches and mentors at the University of British Columbia’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA).