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March 3, 2015

Vienna wants to build a 25-story wooden skyscraper

Brian Galloway for redOrbit.com - @brigallo17

Humanity has been building structures out of wood for hundreds of years, but we've since moved on to more modern materials like steel and concrete. However, architects in Vienna are taking a note from the past and building a 25 story skyscraper out of wood.

The “HoHo project” will be 275 feet tall-- 25 stories, and it’ll cost 60 million Euros ($67 million) to build. The project includes space for hotel rooms, apartments, offices, and restaurants. Assuming everything goes to plan, the building will be the tallest wooden skyscraper in the world.

Wooden skyscraper... who knew?

It sounds crazy, but there are some concrete benefits to using wood as a building material. Caroline Palfy, the project’s leading developer, said the primary motivation is environmental consciousness.

[STORY: Engineers develop new lightweight, flexible, ultra-strong steel]

Popular Science states that the building will save 2,800 tons of carbon emissions when compared to a building made out of concrete. This is mostly because wood absorbs CO2 while it is growing.

“We have wood, which is a perfect construction material for building. It was used 200 years ago and it was perfect then, and it is perfect now” she said, reported by The Guardian.

Different material, different problems

Obviously there are different issues when using wood as your building material. The most obvious issue is the tendency of wood to catch fire. The Vienna fire department agrees, and they’re willing to work with the project planners.

“They have to carry out special tests on the correct combination of concrete and wood. We also want to develop a more fail-safe sprinkler system.” said Christian Wegner, a Vienna fire service spokesman.

Popular Science asks another important question: Will it last?

They point out that the oldest wooden building in the world, The Japanese Horyu-ji temple, is over 1500 years old and it’s still standing. Wood simply requires a bit more personalized care.

Wood is strong, pliable, and light. While it may seem strange at first, it's not such a bad skyscraper building material. Let's just hope the project planners invested in some termite spray.

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