Seeing the wood for the buildings: Telling tall timber tales around the world

Alistair WalshMay 24, 20120 min read

Until Lend Lease's Docklands project Forté is completed, London currently holds the record for the world’s tallest timber residential building with Waugh Thistleton's nine-storey Stadthaus (pictured below).

The building took just 49 weeks to complete, with the basic structure taking just nine weeks.

Some 265 trees were used in its construction. It houses 29 apartments and a ground-floor office.

Photo courtesy of Waugh Thistleton

One building perhaps not counted among official records was Russian gangster Nikolai Sutyagin's DIY creation (pictured below). He cobbled together 13 storeys to build a reported 43-metre ramshackle house in Arkhangelsk. Unfortunately it was partially torn down in 2009 and the remaining structure burnt down earlier this month.

Arkhangelsk wooden mansion. Photo courtesy of Flickr

And it seems Melbourne isn’t the only city to reach for the canopy.

Vancouver has mooted plans for a 30-storey wooden tower aptly titled Tall Wood Tower. Michael Green Architecture designed the tower.

Tall Wood Tower. Photo courtesy of Michael Green Architecture

Dornbirn in Austria may soon be home to a 20-30 storey mixed used wooden tower called the LifeCycle Tower, designed by Creative Renewable Energy and Efficiency.

LifeCycle Tower. Photo courtesy of CREE

And Kirkenes in Norway will join the game too, with plans approved to build the 20-storey Barentshouse Kirkenes.

Barentshouse Kirkenes. Photo courtesy of Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter

Building things entirely out of wood isn’t a new concept, either. Considered the tallest wooden structure in Europe, Northern Transylvania’s 56-metre Barsana Monastery was built in 1720.


Barsana Monastery. Photo by Brandon Atkinson, courtesy of Flickr

The tallest wooden structure still standing is a radio tower in Gliwice Poland built in 1935. It stands at 118 metres. It’s still not as tall as the tallest wooden tower ever built though. The 1933-built Mühlacker Transmission Tower in Germany once stood at 190 metre before it was destroyed in 1945.

Gliwice tower. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland



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Alistair Walsh

Deutsche Welle online reporter
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