Tree Tower: Sustainable Timber High-Rise for Toronto Incorporates Living Plants

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Rising 18 stories from street level in Toronto, with each of its balconies augmented by verdant greenery, this sustainable structure shows off the capabilities of tall timber construction. Penda Architects teamed up with wood consulting firm Tmber to propose a modular high-rise tower built almost entirely from wood. Massive wood panels make up the main structural elements of the building, and the facade is clad in timber panels.

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Such extensive use of wood in a 200-foot-tall building will be a first for Toronto, and the architects hope it will help jump-start a trend of sustainable wooden architecture throughout the city. They joke that they’re growing the materials for future expansion of the building right on its own balconies in the form of living trees.

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“Our cities are an assembly of steel, concrete and glass,” says Penda. “If you walk through the city and suddenly see a tower made of wood and plants, it will create an interesting contrast. The warm, natural appearance of wood and the plants growing on its facade bring the building to life and could be a model for environmental friendly developments and sustainable extensions of our urban landscape.”

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The connection between the visible wooden construction of the building and the living trees “helps further develop a true ecological high rise, supplies its residents with fresher air and provides a lower carbon footprint,” says Mark Stein, CEO of Tmber. “The extensive use of wood will set ambitious sustainability targets and will be a catalyst for similar developments in Canada.”

The mixed-use building will contain residential units as well as public facilities like a community workshop, cafe and daycare center.

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