News Analysis

Would Wood Skyscrapers Improve Urban Sustainability?

A Japanese company aims to promote large-scale mass timber construction with plans to build a wooden “supertall” in Tokyo.

April 4, 2018

The Japanese construction company Sumitomo Forestry thinks a city could reduce its carbon footprint by building with wood. To demonstrate this vision and bring attention to the possibilities of mass timber construction, the company plans to build a 1,148-foot (350-meter) tall wooden tower in Tokyo by 2041.

Developed by Sumitomo Forestry’s Tsukuba Research Institute in collaboration with architecture firm Nikken Sekkei, the “W350 Plan” concept is a 70-story mixed-use building including residential, office, and retail space. Requiring an estimated 185,000 cubic meters of timber, the design calls for a highly efficient “braced tube structure” that is 90% wood. Steel braces, diagonally inserted into the structural framework of wooden columns and beams, are designed to prevent damage caused by wind or earthquakes.