Canadian architect Michael Green, king of the timber skyscraper, has unveiled a proposal for his most vertically blessed timber edifice yet: a 35-story all-wood high-rise for Paris that, if built, would sequester an impressive 3,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide — the equivalent of removing 2,207 cars from French highways for a year or heating a single home for 982 years.

News of Green’s bois-based Parisian skyscraper — if completed, it would be tallest wood building in the world — comes just weeks after the Origine condo project in Quebec City emerged to steal the title of “tallest wood contemporary building in North America” away from the current title-holder, Green’s Wood Design and Innovation Centre (WIDC) in Prince George, British Columbia. At 13 stories and six stories respectively, both Origine and WIDC would be dwarfed by Green’s newest and most ambitious project.

The tallest current planned wood skyscraper in the world is the HoHo tower, a jolly 24-story building that’s in the works for Vienna (much to the chagrin of that city’s fire department).

To be clear, Green’s latest timber creation hasn’t been green-lit by any means. Dubbed Baobab, it’s actually one of the hundreds proposals submitted to Reinventer Paris, an international design competition seeking “innovative urban projects” for 23 different redevelopment sites spread out across the city.

Writes Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo on the Reinventer Paris website:

We are launching this call for innovative urban projects in order to prefigure what the Paris of tomorrow might be. Each team is invited to present its ideas on how to bring added vitality to exceptional Parisian sites. The winners will then be able to purchase or rent the terrains in order to carry out their projects while simultaneously conducting an urban experiment on an unparalleled scale.

Developed and presented by Green’s Vancouver based firm, Michael Green Architecture (MGA) with Paris-based design firm DVDD and real estate developer REI France, the Baobab project was specifically designed for Paris’ “Pershing” development site. Currently home to a high-traffic bus station and parking lot, the site — “exceptional visibility of this plot and the importance of the traffic flows through it call for an innovative and cutting-edge project” — straddles Boulevard Périphérique, the perpetually gridlocked ring road that encircles central Paris.

Michael Green's Baobab wooden skyscraper proposal for Paris

Team Baobab describes the proposal’s innovations as “multi-dimensional” and extending “beyond wood building materials and height.” In addition to the project's signature 35-story residential tower, a smattering of smaller wood buildings of varying heights would be erected on the mixed-use development site along with new public green space.

A new model of housing explores ways in which the next generation can live in small urban spaces without losing their sense of community. Combining an innovative mix of market and social housing, a student hotel, urban agriculture, a bus station, e-car hub and amenities, the Baobab project would foster the City’s vision for a connected, vibrant metropolis. Spanning the eight-lane Peripherique and reaching new heights in sustainable wood building, the proposal would transform the Pershing Site into a gateway to the city and a model for future projects around the world.

Although the Baobab tower is roughly a third of the height of Paris' most famous tall structure and built from timber, not iron, Green fancies himself as a bit of a 21st century Gustave Eiffel. That is, like the Eiffel Tower, the Baobab project both pushes the proverbial envelope and the limits of structural engineering. Unlike the Eiffel Tower, so widely despised by Parisians when it was erected as the impossible-to-avoid crown jewel of 1899’s Exposition Universalle, I’m guessing Baobab would garner a much warmer welcome as a new addition to Paris' traditionally low-slung skyline.

“Our goal is that through innovation, youthful social contact and overall community building, we have created a design that becomes uniquely important to Paris,” says Green. “Just as Gustave Eiffel shattered our conception of what was possible a century and a half ago, this project can push the envelope of wood innovation with France in the forefront. The Pershing Site is the perfect moment for Paris to embrace the next era of architecture.”

Shortlisted proposals in the Reinventer Paris competition will be announced later this summer.

As a carbon-neutral building material, wood is capable of both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon within buildings. “All of a sudden wood is this great opportunity, why not make Paris the city to celebrate it first,” Green recently told the Vancouver Sun.

Via [ArchDaily], [Vancouver Sun]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

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