Friday, July 20, 2018

Architects want to build a Toronto highrise out of wood and trees

Toronto architect

Austrian architects are hoping to build an 18-storey residential building in Toronto made mostly of wood and plants.

Called the Toronto Tree Tower Project, it promises it will be one of the most environmentally-friendly and sustainable pieces of architecture in the world.

The people behind it say it they were inspired by Moshe Safdie’s Habitat ’67 housing complex, which left its unforgettable mark on the Montreal Expo of 1967.

Architect Chris Precht spoke with As It Happens guest host Rosemary Barton about the project. Here is part of their conversation:

Describe what this Tree Tower in Toronto would look like?

The whole tower is made out of wood. Wood technology actually made a big progress in the last years, especially wood in general, to use it in highrises. We use cross-laminated timber. This will secure that the wood will not shrink or expand over time.

So that’s what it looks like to an architect. What does it look like to me as I’m walking down the street?

It’s a very natural alternative to our conventional way of building. It’s a very healthy environment to live in. I’ve lived a large portion of my life in China and I know what the pollution is doing to cities. The construction industry is a big contributor to this pollution in our city.

And where does the tree part come in? 

All of the materials we use for the highrise are made out of renewable materials. So it looks like a tree, but at the same time, it is also made from a tree.

And I think you were inspired by Moshe Safdie’s “Habitat ’67” in Montreal — what about that inspired you?

True, especially when it comes to the process of building. Safdie is a big influence and especially the Habitat in Montreal. It was the first time architects used a modular system, but made it … visually very interesting. The process of building those prefabricated modules offsite and having everything already installed and then just craning it into place — it is very efficient.

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