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green 01/2017

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The journal for all aspects of sustainable planning and construction


Even as the fossil-fuel era draws to a close, skyscrapers seem to have lost none of their appeal. The fact that new designs for timber high-rises are now being launched on an almost monthly basis confirms this hypothesis. These designs may not all be feasible and might often be aimed to garner the greatest possible media attention, nevertheless they are the logical continuum of a development whereby timber construction has continually gained new ground in the form of new typologies, sizes and locations of buildings. In the district of Hackney in east London, the first ten-storey residential building made of timber is currently being constructed, while on the outskirts of Vienna, an 84-metre-high office building is being erected. Timber construction is profiting from its own industrialisation and from the positive ecological image of wood as a renewable raw material, which also stores CO2.

There could hardly be a better moment for timber construction to be chosen as a central theme in DETAIL green. Thus, in this issue, we dedicate selected articles and a number of detailed project analyses to this particular topic. In Germany, timber construction has been a political issue for some time already. Are municipalities allowed to specify timber construction for certain development projects? Should the embodied energy of construction materials be taken into consideration when the energy balance of buildings is assessed? To what extent can the insulation regulations for new buildings be tightened before traditional facade construction based on concrete and masonry are forced out of the market? These issues are being argued fiercely by lobbyists. For architects, however, there only remains what should always be their goal; namely to use each building material wherever it is most appropriate, whether functionally, economically or ecologically.