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African Developers Start to Recognise the Environmental Benefits of Building with Timber

The skyline of Zanzibar will gain a dramatic new addition over the next few years, with the planned opening of the 96-metre high “Burj Zanzibar”. The remarkable feature of this building is not its height, however – but that fact that it will be made largely of wood. The “landmark project” is intended to “showcase to the world” the benefits of using timber as a construction material, says Milan Heilmann, project manager at CPS Zanzibar, the company behind the tower. While elements of the foundations and core of the building will use concrete, the rest of the structure will be built with timber. The Burj Zanzibar is planned to be the tallest timber building in the world (although it may be beaten to this title by other projects currently on the drawing board). Construction is set to start next year, and will take three to four years to complete, Heilmann tells us. Heilmann hopes that Zanzibar’s new wooden skyscraper will be the first of many such projects in Africa. “Our vision is to build millions and millions of homes,” he says. Indeed, increasing the use of timber in the construction industry is seen by advocates as a key step towards combatting Africa’s housing crisis, as well as reducing the construction industry’s massive carbon footprint.