Australasia's home for timber news and information

Going up!


Over the past few years, wood has emerged as an unlikely yet desirable material for the design of future skyscrapers. This is what London’s first tall timber structure could look like, wrote Jamie Condliffe, contributing Editor at Gizmodo [Engineering & Technology]. Source: Timberbiz

The design is by PLP Architecture and Cambridge University’s Department of Architecture with engineers from Smith and Wallwork.

The proposed 80-storey building would reach 985 feet into the air, providing over 1,000,000 square feet of space for 1000 residential units.

The proposed structure would be situated in London’s Barbican area, a famous experiment that injected residential living into the centre of London.

The brutalist architecture homes are broadly thought to have proven a success, but the team behind the new project suggest that timber structures could be used to help increase capacity further.

Dr Michael Ramage, from the University of Cambridge, explained to Engineering & Technology: “If London is going to survive it needs to increasingly densify. One way is taller buildings.

“We believe people have a greater affinity for taller buildings in natural materials rather than steel and concrete towers.

“The fundamental premise is that timber and other natural materials are vastly underused and we don’t give them nearly enough credit. Nearly every historic building, from King’s College Chapel to Westminster Hall, has made extensive use of timber.”

Whether you buy the reasoning behind his first argument or not, his second point is reasonable: Wood is an amazing material to build with.

Modern cross-laminated timber – where thin sheets of wood are stuck together, with alternating grain direction providing high strength – can give many modern materials a run for their money. It’s strong, versatile and sustainable.

Whether it will prove popular in London remains to be seen. The concept was presented to the Mayor of London recently, so we’ll have to wait and see what the response is.

Not surprisingly, as soon as Condliffe’s piece hit the web, the all-too-obvious catch cry of the ill-informed slammed the proposal with the comment …They’re underused because everyone is screaming about cutting down the rainforests. That and they have the unfortunate tendency to catch on fire and fall over into the swamp.

This is sure to get a strong mention at Frame Australia (23 May at the Park Hyatt in Melbourne) in its jam-packed program.