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Japan

Tokyo To Build 350m Tower Made of Wood (theguardian.com) 108

A skyscraper set to be built in Tokyo will become the world's tallest to be made of wood. From a report: The Japanese wood products company Sumitomo Forestry Co is proposing to build a 350 metre (1,148ft), 70-floor tower to commemorate its 350th anniversary in 2041. Japan's government has long advertised the advantages of wooden buildings, and in 2010 passed a law requiring it be used for all public buildings of three stories or fewer. Sumitomo Forestry said the new building, known as the W350 Project, was an example of "urban development that is kind for humans," with more high-rise architecture made of wood and covered with greenery "making over cities as forests." The new building will be predominantly wooden, with just 10% steel. Its internal framework of columns, beams and braces -- made of a hybrid of the two materials -- will take account of Japan's high rate of seismic activity. The Tokyo-based architecture firm Nikken Sekkei contributed to the design.
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Tokyo To Build 350m Tower Made of Wood

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  • Dpes it weigh (Score:3, Informative)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @03:46PM (#56148196)

    the same as a duck?

    • And if it does, does that mean it's a witch?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I hope this doesn't end as a huge candle.

    • by DrTJ ( 4014489 )
      This automatically translated article talks about fire safety in high wooden houses: https://translate.google.com/t... [google.com] Unfortunately the images didn't come along, but they can be seen in the original article: http://www.husbyggaren.se/bran... [husbyggaren.se]
    • Re:Fireproof? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @05:15PM (#56148634) Homepage Journal

      Well, consider the 67.3m Grenfell Tower which burned spectacularly [wikipedia.org] last June, killing seventy people. The tower was reinforced concrete, but it was the decorative polyethylene cladding that transmitted the fire at deadly speed, and the interior apartment furnishings that actually killed people.

      So it's quite possible for a concrete building to become a fire trap; it's the superficial bits that are the risk. Massive wooden structural members might burn in theory, but like an over-large log they wouldn't catch fire quickly.

      So I should think that a large wooden building could in principle be engineered to be for all practical purposes as fire safe as concrete building. The problem is knowing that something is safe in practice. Engineering is as much about the application of experience as it is induction from general principles. So if you build far beyond the limits of experience, you can never be quite certain of the behavior of a system.

      • So it's quite possible for a concrete building to become a fire trap;

        True, but how many more would have died if instead of just the cladding the main structural support material was inflammable? Most highrise buildings have staircases which are made of solid concrete to provide a safe, non-flammable escape route from most fires. When that fails, for example in the 911 attacks, the death toll can be one or more orders of magnitude larger because there is no safe escape route and the building will eventually collapse killing everyone who is trapped.

    • Apparently counterintuitively wooden beams handle fire better than steel beams. In a normal fire of 750-1000 degrees celcius the steel will lose 90% structural integrity while wood only 25% after 30min. This means the steel beam will have collapsed long before its wooden counterpart has.

      http://www.nzwood.co.nz/faqs/w... [nzwood.co.nz]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    They could stand to make mention about replenishment and what about all the chemicals that are used to treat the wood?

    It's as if these concerns don't even exist.

  • ... for the highest wooden building in the world is either a 37.5 m high russion orthodox church [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2360473/Kizhi-Pogost-The-biggest-building-world-thats-entirely-wood.html] if you require something 'house shaped', or it is the 180 m tall ATLAS-I EMP testing apparatus built near the Sandia National Laboratory facility in New Mexico, which isn't quite as house-shaped [https://www.google.com/maps/place/35%C2%B001'47.6%22N+106%C2%B033'27.3%22W/@35.0296017,-106.5587137,310m
    • Todai-ji [wikipedia.org] in Nara is 57m and was built 300 years ago. Supposedly the old one was even bigger.

      • 57m from that link is the length of the main building. The width is 50m. Judging from the picture that makes it ~25m tall. That is consistent with a statue height of 14.98m and the interior pictures which show the ceiling only a little taller than the statue.

        It is true that the site originally had 2 pagodas of ~100m height.

  • high-rise architecture made of wood and covered with greenery "making over cities as forests."

    LoL Is Japan so urbanised that its inhabitants can imagine that buildings* covered in greenery can seem like a forest?

    * Created by chopping down a forest. The guys in the Amazon Basin hacking down the last of the rain forest must be having wet dreams over this news.

    • Japan is certainly urbanized, but still retains its forests [wikipedia.org].

    • If you ever manage to afford internet access, just fire up google maps and set it to satellite view and click on Japan. Lots of trees.

      Also if you think the last of the rainforest is being chopped down, just click on South America and check.

      Somehow I think we found the guy who can't imagine trees. ;)

  • What's Japanese for The Matchstick Building?

  • Wood certainly has it's uses, but it seems to me that a high rise is not one of them. Wood needs to be protected from the sun and elements. Who wants to have to paint or weather proof this thing every couple of years? I lived in a house with wood siding as a kid. I hated having to go out to scrape the old paint off and repainting it. I know paint and weather proofing has come a long way since I was a kid, but it's still going to need this done periodically.

    This is why aluminum siding and later vinyl sid

    • Aluminum and vinyl siding are things because they're cheaper than wood.

      If they were better, they'd either be more expensive, or wood siding would have been discontinued.

      Also, consider this: in a tall building, the siding is not the structural support. So the subject isn't even about the siding. This building could have vinyl siding and the story would be the same story about a wooden building.

      Also, you don't have to paint the wood for protection. There is also technology that places the protective chemicals

  • by green1 ( 322787 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @04:31PM (#56148416)

    Where I am, building code prohibits wood for buildings over 4 stories (though they're talking about allowing it for up to 5 or even 6 because the builders don't want to pay for concrete, and their lobbying is amazingly effective) Combined with the requirement for all buildings over 4 stories to have elevators, we have a ton of 4 story apartment buildings. We've also proven repeatedly that wood is a HORRIBLE material for any multi-family building, as we've had quite a few burn to the ground leaving hundreds of people homeless. Of course each time they say that if only they'd made this minor tweak to the building code the disaster wouldn't have happened, but then the next one happens despite whatever tweak they say will solve it.

    • Fire sprinklers address fire risk, and wood buildings (when complete) are generally more survivable than light gauge metal structures. Their main problem is that while under construction they are a huge fire risk.

      Low-rise wood structures are pretty safe (with a concrete podium for the garage). When you go over 75’ to the highest occupied floor (code definition) then things become more complex.

    • We've also proven repeatedly that wood is a HORRIBLE material for any multi-family building, as we've had quite a few burn to the ground

      So? In many cases concrete doesn't form as much of a structure as it does simply provide fireproofing for the steel reinforcing within it. Just because something has "wood" in the name doesn't automagically make it a firehazard. We can fireproof wood just as well as any other structural member.

      Also building codes are iterative. "the next one happens" and will always happen. The key part is the rate at which they have happened and are happening continues to decline.

      • Also building codes are iterative. "the next one happens" and will always happen. The key part is the rate at which they have happened and are happening continues to decline.

        Note this is also true of monetary policy and recessions. In the 70s, they were still trying horrible things like price controls.

      • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )

        We can fireproof wood just as well as any other structural member.

        Refractory bricks are good up to 1600 C and can withstand that indefinitely. What kind of temperature can "fireproof" wood withstand, and for how long?

        • Refractory bricks are good up to 1600 C and can withstand that indefinitely. What kind of temperature can "fireproof" wood withstand, and for how long?

          Really damn high. Wood is a combustible and doesn't weaken or melt with heat. You just need to starve it from combustion ingredients or keep it below ignition temperature and you're sweet. A standard fireproofing membrane sprayed on top of wood suffice. Hell if you really want to get funny, encase the wood in concrete. That's pretty much how any decent length of horizontal concrete supporting structure works.

          • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )

            Really damn high. Wood is a combustible and doesn't weaken or melt with heat. You just need to starve it from combustion ingredients or keep it below ignition temperature and you're sweet. A standard fireproofing membrane sprayed on top of wood suffice.

            Do you have a source for any of that? I looked and the only thing I found other than advertisement pieces is this [springeropen.com], which says lignin, the structural component of wood, starts breaking down at 250 C and is completely broken down when it reaches 500 C. For comparison, jet fuel will burn at 800-1000 C and gasoline is over 2000 C. There's a lot of molecular oxygen and hydrogen in wood, so temperature alone is sufficient to start the combustion, even if oxygen is not present. What you're left with afterwards is

    • Where I am, building code prohibits wood for buildings over 4 stories

      You left out the part where building codes normally cover normal buildings, and often the tallest buildings in a city are taller than the code "allows" because special cases, including the biggest buildings, are expected to require a variance anyways.

      The code in my city says buildings can only be 40', but a quick drive around town says that there is not actually a prohibition of buildings over 40', simply an additional process.

      Yeah, if you want to build a wooden skyscraper there is going to be more to the p

  • That they did many feasibility studies on how it can withstand earthquake or even storm level wind for that matter.
  • by Pollux ( 102520 ) <speter@t e d a t a .net.eg> on Sunday February 18, 2018 @04:37PM (#56148448) Journal

    When I read this, I immediately wondered why it was even possible to build a 1,100 ft tall wooden building, more than eight times taller than the current record for the tallest wooden building. This Guardian article [theguardian.com] goes into more detail about the engineering of tall wooden buildings, and cites this Canadian Wood Council case study [ctbuh.org] for some of its information. In short, the wood materials to be used are highly specialized fireproofed laminate composites. Calling the finished product wood is like calling Splenda sugar; just because it's a derivative of the original doesn't mean it's the same thing.

    From an engineering perspective, a skyscraper undergoes incredible stresses. The building has to be capable of supporting itself and all the weight within it. It has to withstand the tremors of earthquakes, the forces of wind and water, and not lose its strength over time, even as it's exposed for decades to UV rays. The building materials need to have a unique combination of sheer strength, tensile strength, and compressive strength. A combination of steel and concrete give you all three. But natural wood is inconsistent. Flaws like knots and cracks in the grains weaken its sheer strength. Wood has great tensile strength in the direction of the grain, but is very weak against the grain. And it works the opposite way with compression. The only way to overcome these weaknesses is with laminates, which are very expensive (currently, due to the lack of demand) to produce.

    Not to mention wood burns much easier.

    My personal opinion is that there are some architects trying to get name recognition by coming up with something unique. I hope anyone considering to fund such imaginations take a lesson from the Spruce Goose and use wood when it's advantageous, not avant garde.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      They are a wood product manufacturing company. This model is quite common with Japanese companies too.

      Set a high, long term goal and work towards it. The innovations and new ideas that come from the work keep the company at the forefront of the market. After all, there are plenty of other companies making wood products (or steel, or cars, or soft drinks or whatever) and overheads are low in China, so having a better product is the only way to compete.

      The goal here is to produce new building materials out of

    • Splenda is brand of sucralose, it is absolutely sugar, there is no question about that at all. It also has the same calorie content as other carbohydrates.

    • Unlikely.... Checkout the current tallest "wooden building" in the world under construction...

      https://www.archdaily.com/8796... [archdaily.com]

      What do you see? Two huge cement columns running down the middle of it.

      I think the real question is how moral is it to use such materials, in a day and age when so much of our native habitat has already been lost and the remaining habitat is being rapidly cleared?

      Even if the wood is sustainably sourced, which it probably won't be, creating a fashion like this encourages others to d

      • Seriously there must be better uses for such a precious commodity

        It's not precious: wood literally grows on trees. At least in the developed world, most wood is harvested from managed forests, which are basically tree farms. Cut 'em down and replant. The timber company is incentivized to replant and practice good silviculture techniques because timber is their product.

        From an environmental perspective, wood is a carbon sink. Trees absorb carbon, and timber stores it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If they called it a "cellulose fibre re-inforced thermoset plastic composite" building, then it would not sound as 'green'.

    • sheer strength

      ITYM "shear strength"

  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @04:42PM (#56148482)

    This has already been done.

  • As a showcase point-of-pride project, it will know doubt have a wow factor of the highest magnitude. Read the article and links within it - wood skyscrapers seem to be an idea on the ascendancy. Many of the putative benefits from a social, engineering, and ecological point of view no doubt have merit. However, there is a potential downside which was the first thing that came to my mind. Fire.

    Looking at the concept renders in the article, try this estimate: 20 residential units per story, times 70 storie

    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

      Never mind fire; I'd be more concerned about wet rot and worse, ground termites. The only discouragement that works without regular reapplication is creosote (which of course has been largely outlawed).

  • I sure hope they have a No Smoking rule that is enforced.

  • Google for "Pyramidenkogel" and "Rubner Holzbau" - you will be astonished, what's possible with wood.

  • I love the number of people telling the Japanese, of all people, how to build using wood, and using such mundane problems like rot as reasons it won't work. It's hilarious.

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