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Tomorrow's world

The skyscrapers made from trees

The cultural centre in Skellefteå, Sweden

Eco-conscious architects are increasingly seeking to build skyscrapers from a distinctly old-fashioned material, says The Wall Street Journal: wood. When glued and pressed into so-called “mass timber”, wood can be as strong as concrete and steel. The number of mass-timber multistorey building projects in the US has risen 50% in 18 months, to more than 1,300. Skellefteå, a city in northeastern Sweden, has a 20-storey hotel and cultural centre “made almost entirely of spruce and pine harvested from nearby woodlands”. Elsewhere, there are proposals for a 70-storey wooden skyscraper in Tokyo and an 80-storey one in London.

Not only are wooden buildings more environmentally friendly than those made from concrete and steel, with half the carbon footprint, they’re often cheaper as well. Another benefit? The intoxicating smell. “When you come inside,” says Robert Schmitz, lead architect for the building in Sweden, “the smell of the timber is almost like you enter a forest.”