Chicago architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has designed Urban Sequoia, a green tower concept unveiled to coincide with last week’s climate change conference in Glasgow.
The idea is to make buildings act like a tree by capturing carbon and purifying the air. According to SOM, the tower could capture 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year, equivalent to 48,500 trees.
Urban Sequoia would be built using materials such as bio-brick, hempcrete, timber and biocrete, which would halve the construction’s embodied carbon when compared with traditional materials such as concrete and steel. And the design would be optimised to use as little of these as possible.
This means that 40 years after construction, an Urban Sequoia tower might absorb around 400% more carbon than it cost during construction.
SOM notes that 40% of global carbon emissions are generated by the building sector and 230 billion square metres of new building stock will be needed by 2060 to meet population increases.
Mina Hasman, SOM senior associate principal, said: “If the Urban Sequoia became the baseline for new buildings, we could realign our industry to become the driving force in the fight against climate change.
“We envision a future in which the first Urban Sequoia will inspire the architecture of an entire neighbourhood – feeding into the city ecosystem to capture and repurpose carbon to be used locally with surplus distributed more widely.”
Kent Jackson, an SOM partner, said: “We developed our idea so that it could be applied and adapted to meet the needs of any city in the world, with the potential for positive impact at any building scale.”