Toronto’s Tree Tower (Design & Build Review)

Penda is planning a modular wooden skyscraper for Toronto that could provide a more sustainable model for high-rise city living. Frances Marcellin talks to Chris Precht, Partner at Penda, to find out more

When start-up architectural firm Penda won Architizer’s A+ Award in 2016 for “Emerging Firm of the Year” the team were already developing the “Tree Tower Toronto”. Sustainable, efficient to construct and designed with city dwellers’ health in mind, Penda hopes this wooden 18-storey tower will act as a catalyst for future high-rise buildings.

Penda has partnered with CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) consultants Tmber to design and deliver this modular, 62-metre high building. It offers a 4,500-square metre residential area and 550 square metres of public space, which includes a café, a children’s day-care centre and community workshop areas.

“Our cities are an assembly of steel, concrete and glass,” says Chris Precht, Partner at Penda. “The warm, natural appearance of wood and the plants growing on its facade bring the building to life and that could be a model for environmentally-friendly developments and sustainable extensions of our urban landscape.”

penda_TreeTower (2)
Toronto’s Tree Tower

Buildings against construction pollution

By building with wood, Penda’s goal is to set a successful residential building precedent that would reduce pollution caused by the construction industry.

“The construction industry is using almost half of all energy created on our globe and are we are a big contributor to the pollution of our environment,” says Precht. “Buildings are using up sites and resources of our surroundings and I believe buildings can be and do more than that.”

Today more than 80% of people living in urban areas are exposed to air quality levels that exceed the World Health Organization (WHO) limits. Reports show that 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to buildings and currently the construction industry in the UK creates 32% of landfill waste and as much as 50% in the USA. In Canada waste from construction, renovation and demolition has increased by over 30% between 2000 and 2010.

Penda portrait
Chris Precht and Dayong Sun, Founding Partners of Penda

“As architects we shouldn’t just think about how to make our buildings more beautiful or more efficient, but we need to design healthier buildings for vital cities,” says Precht. “Creating more public spaces in them, producing energy for the surrounding or growing food for the neighbourhood.”

Read the rest of the article in Design & Build Review magazine.

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