Would Wood Be Good?

Of all the recent advances in tall-building construction, perhaps the most counterintuitive is the nascent move toward wood as the primary material for high-rise towers. Yes, wood construction is environmentally friendly. It comes from trees that trap atmospheric carbon dioxide (a gas that, most scientists say, is the cause of manmade climate change); it’s a renewable resource; and, according to experts, the manufacturing process for wooden building products emits less carbon than that for any other material used in construction.

But, wood isn’t as strong as steel and concrete, right? And, an even bigger concern: wood burns. It’s not hard to imagine a giant timber tower being quickly devoured by flames. It’s an image that’s hard to shake.

A recent article posted on the website Fast Company, however, may put these fears to rest. In it, author Jesus Diaz tells of Mjøstårnet, an 18-story, 265-ft.-tall project being built in Brumunddal, Norway, that will soon be the world’s tallest all-wood building. With the help of a five-part mini-documentary produced by construction company Moelven, we learn that the latest engineered-wood building materials are both strong and fire-resistant. We also learn of innovative construction techniques being employed on this jobsite.

It’s not likely that wood will replace steel and concrete in every future high-rise project. But, it does appear to be a viable option for many types of buildings.

Coming Soon to a City Near You?

U.K.-based Daily Mail has reported on what is says could be “the world’s tallest building ever.” Analemma Tower would be suspended from an orbiting asteroid 31,068 miles above Earth. It would hover above various places as it swings in a figure eight between the northern and southern hemispheres each day.

If the importance of a tethered high-strength cable sounds familiar, you may remember it from various space-elevator proposals. Here, one would be attached to an asteroid that is lowered to Earth and attached to the tower.

Could this be the start of a new wave of building design, or is it as Eugene Pharr commented, “just a ‘space elevator’ that is not anchored at the bottom”?

Photographer Captures World’s Biggest Cities at 12,000 Feet

Sydney

Sydney, Australia – click to enlarge

Tall buildings, bright lights, bustling traffic and the general buzz of people flow have been used to describe 21st century “mega-cities”. At street level, spectacular views abound in cities such as New York, Barcelona, Las Vegas, Sydney and London. But, what about the view from thousands of feet above these cities? SPECTACULAR! Photographer Vincent Laforet spent time in 2015 edging out of a helicopter door at heights of up to 12,000 feet photographing them. His new book, “AIR,” compiles the best and most spectacular aerial images captured throughout the project. However, you can view some of these images by viewing the video below. For more photo’s, and CNN’s feature article on this project, click here.  Enjoy!

“When you are in any of these metropolitan areas on a street level, you feel a lot smaller and isolated,” Laforet told CNN over the phone from New York. “You are overwhelmed by the noise and the differences you see on the ground.”

“But when you are above these cities at several thousand feet or several kilometers, somehow they feel much more within grasp. You definitely feel more connected to the city and the people within it. There’s this energy that’s almost palpable.”