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Courtesy of Sumitomo Forestry
Courtesy of Sumitomo Forestry
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Tokyo Is Building a 350 Metre Wooden Skyscraper

Picture of Lucy Dayman
Updated: 22 February 2018
When you think of Tokyo, chances are that images of neon-drenched streets and towering silver skyscrapers flanking the main thoroughfares of the city are what comes to mind. Well, one company is trying to change that with their latest announcement.

Sumitomo Forestry Co. Ltd., the timber and forest management arm of Japan-based company Sumitomo, have just unveiled their plans to craft the world’s biggest wooden skyscraper. Titled the W350 Project, it’s set for completion by 2041, just in time to mark the 350th birthday celebrations of the company.

Courtesy of Sumitomo Forestry
Courtesy of Sumitomo Forestry | © Sumitomo Forestry

Designed in collaboration with architects Nikken Sekkei, the skyscraper will be 350 metres (1,148 ft.) tall, 70 levels high, and is estimated to cost around 60 billion yen (US$5.6 billion), twice the price of a conventional skyscraper of that size. The designers of the project predict that by 2041 advancements in technology will mean that this estimated price tag will drop.

The building is set to use around 180,000 cubic meters of indigenous wood, and although it’s been called a wooden skyscraper, in reality it will be a combination of steel and wood, the ratio sitting at around 9:1 wood to steel.

Courtesy of Sumitomo Forestry
Courtesy of Sumitomo Forestry | © Sumitomo Forestry

Like many of the city’s other cloud-reaching towers, the skyscraper will most likely become a mixed-use building, housing a mix of hotels, offices, retail, and residences. Early renderings of the proposed structure look pretty incredible. It’ll feature large open, light-filled spaces with balconies covered in greenery.

Early design plans include internal beams and a combination wood and steel column to prevent any major damage from earthquakes. In an attempt to redefine previously held notions about what it’s like to live in a major city, the company hopes that this new construction will be kinder to the environment and help transform the city into a forest.

According to Sumitomo, currently “forests of Japan cover approximately two thirds (68.5%) of the country’s land area.” That makes Japan only second behind Finland, but “the self-supply rate for domestically-produced timber is only at around 30%.” Large amounts of Japanese cedar and Japanese cypress that were planted after the Second World War and are now ready to harvest aren’t being effectively used, and the company hopes that this new creation will set a precedent for future designs.

This is not the first ever mainly wooden tower however. Currently, the tallest wooden building is Brock Commons Tallwood House, a 53-metre student residence in Vancouver, Canada. This new Tokyo skyscraper is going to be roughly six times the size of the current tallest building,

Courtesy of Sumitomo Forestry
Courtesy of Sumitomo Forestry | © Sumitomo Forestry

Later this year in Vienna, Austria is expected to be home to the tallest wooden building with the 24-storey HoHo Tower almost reaching completion. Nonetheless, it’s fair to say that when it comes to architectural breakthroughs, Japan is definitely one of the world leaders, so watching this come together will be fascinating for design geeks and regular folk alike.

Tokyo Skytree doesn’t have to worry too much, though, since at 634 meters it’ll retain its title as the highest tower in Japan. So, if you’re planning on visiting Tokyo before 2041, there are still plenty of other pretty stunning buildings to check out.