Australia’s claim to the world’s tallest timber structure is all but lost, following news from Vienna that an 84 metre timber tower is nearing approval for construction.

Two wooden towers dubbed ‘HoHo’ have been designed by Austrian architects Rüdiger Lainer and Partner (RLP) and if developed will snatch the title as the world’s tallest timber structure from Melbourne’s Forte which currently stands at 32-metres high.

The towers will be situated in Seestadt Aspern, one of Europe’s largest urban development sites, and will house a hotel, apartments, restaurant, wellness centre and offices. They are expected to cost about €60 million.

Both the towers at HoHo will be 76 per cent wood rather than steel and concrete, which the architects say will save approximately 2,800 tonnes of CO2 emissions (equivalent to driving a car 25 miles a day for 1,300 years).

Above: HoHo towers will be constructed from over 70 per cent wood. Image: Rudiger Lainer and Partner
Below: Forte in Melbourne currently stands as the world's tallest timber structure. Image: Lend Lease

The Vienna fire service, which is not accustomed to wooden structures of this size, has expressed concerns about HoHo and is working with the architects to test their plans.

“The main factor is that everyone wants to build higher and higher buildings. An 84-metre-high building in Europe is not usual and there are a lot of necessities that have to be realised,” fire service spokesman Christian Wegner told the UK Guardian.

“A few of us were upset because it was crazy to present an idea like this that has not been discussed with everyone yet.

“They have to carry out special tests on the correct combination of concrete and wood. We also want to develop a more fail-safe sprinkler system. I expect they will pass the tests but if they develop the building as they say they will, it will be a serious project.”