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New Paris fashion may feature timber tower

New Paris fashion may feature timber tower

by TODD STOLARSKI | June 10, 2015

Green designer: Vancouver architect Michael Green.

Green designer: Vancouver architect Michael Green.

French design firm DVVD Paris and Vancouver architect Michael Green have responded to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo's grand challenge to remake the City of Lights. Last week, Hidalgo unveiled the Reinventing Paris competition, aiming to inspire innovation in sustainability and urban planning for a lasting impact on Parisian architecture. Some 23 sites were selected for potential redevelopment, and already 372 projects have been proposed.

Shortly after that news, DVVD Paris, Green, and developer REI France announced joint plans. Together, they proposed a 35-story, carbon-neutral, wooden skyscraper. Among the building's myriad benefits is its natural and obvious contribution to worldwide sustainability. Should the team win the competition and get to build its tower, one benefit would sequester 3,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide. That's equivalent to removing nearly 2,000 cars from the road each year. 

                                                                                                                Renderings by Michael Green Architects.

                                                                                                                Renderings by Michael Green Architects.

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But wait, wood? What about fire? 

Green has been here before. In 2013, he published The Case for Tall Wood Towers, arguing that timber panels actually burn very slowly, and that "fire science can make wood every bit as safe as steel or concrete." (For more, see his TED Talk below.) In retrospect, then, DVVD's choice of wood was probably sealed the moment it picked Green as partner. His first entirely wooden building, the Wood Innovations and Design Centre (of course!) outside of Vancouver, stands 65 ft high and was built with cross-laminated timber (CLT). The technique glues multi-dimensional layers of lumber together using high-strength adhesives to create structural forces that stand stronger and lighter than any steel counterpart, Green wrote. 

In Melbourne, Australia, local contracting giant Lend Lease recently built an eight-story apartment high rise with CLT. According to design partner Alex de Rijke, “The 18th century was about brick, the 19th about steel, and the 20th about concrete. The 21st century is about wood.”

For its part, Lend Lease claims building with CLT is nearly a third faster than using traditional methods and materials, and it produces less waste. So, strange as it may seem, the one-time penal colony Down Under may soon be influencing the architecture of the capital of cosmopolitan chic.

An international jury will select the winning design entry in January 2016.

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