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Year of the Wooden Dragon

Arboretum, Paris, France

The Wood Dragon year comes once every 60 years in the Chinese zodiac. The dragon is associated with incredible strength, positive transformation, and challenges. And, the element wood, symbolises creativity and adaptability. Source: Timberbiz

The Chinese zodiac is a 12-year cycle that links each year to an animal sign, of which there are 12 and their order is fixed. Each year is also associated with an element of which there are five, this year it is wood. Hence the Year of the Wood Dragon.

The Year of the Wood Dragon sounds surprisingly like it may be lead to a mass timber expansion. Wood is replacing climate-damaging concrete with each new build/renovation. Overall, the construction industry is transforming in a nature- positive direction.

While we are witnessing a rise of sustainable buildings with climate-smart, creative, and flexible adaptable designs, this progress has challenges. This year is predicted to be one of the hottest years, if not the hottest, on Earth. We are seeing resource depletion, waste generation, greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation like we have not seen before.

Whether you believe in zodiacs or not, to celebrate the new year, we wanted to share with you some of the important low-carbon buildings of 2024.

These climate-resilient buildings showcase some of the latest in wood architecture and herald a design future that fully embraces renewable materials, integrates nature, and reuses existing fabric.

They are all made with inclusive community in mind and thanks to advances in collaborative design processes, many involved community stakeholders during the design process.

Integrating nature: Arboretum, Paris, France

Biophilic designs maximising natural light, vegetation, and exposed wood materials are taking off all over 2024, but Arboretum will be doing it at scale when it opens later in the year. We can contemplate many of the benefits as one of the world’s largest wood projects takes shape creating a creative, nurturing and productive atmosphere in the heart of Paris.

Adaptive reuse chic: Arding & Hobbs, London, UK

Opening its doors any day now, this well-loved department store got a 27,432 m² makeover. It’s a spectacular sustainable mix of retail leisure and contemporary workspace with a biodiverse rooftop extension. Part of the building was already opened in late ‘23.

Energy efficiency show-offs: Katajanokan Laituri ∣ Stora Enso HQ, Helsinki, Finland

A milestone in the race to net-zero energy building is Stora Enso’s new HQ and Varma’s mixed-use landscraper on Helsinki’s harbourfront, with one of the smallest construction footprints yet. Set to open in ‘24.

The World of Volvo, Gothenburg, Sweden

Say goodbye to commercial car lots and hello to community-centric, creative spaces that encourage social interaction and well-being. The World of Volvo is designed on Swedish principles of “allemansrätten”: the fundamental right that all citizens share to nature and roam freely on any land (public or private), showing consideration for nature and for others.