Cambridge University’s Department of Architecture, along with PLP Architecture and engineering firm Smith and Wallwork have proposed to build the tallest wooden skyscraper in London.
The conceptual plan is an 80-story building that is 985 feet tall and provides over 1,000,000 square feet of space for 1,000 residential units. It would also be the second tallest building in London, after The Shard, and the tallest timber skyscraper in the world. Timber is a renewable resource and the use of it is more sustainable than traditional construction methods using concrete and steel and happens to be cheaper as well. The current tallest timber structure is a 14-story apartment block in Bergen, Norway. Yet, the lack of experience in building tall timber skyscrapers poses quite an engineering challenge, “We’ve designed the architecture and engineering and demonstrated it will stand, but this is at a scale no one has attempted to build before. We are developing a new understanding of primary challenges in structure and construction. There is a lot of work ahead, but we are confident of meeting all the challenges before us,” explained Dr Michael Ramage, Director of Cambridge’s Centre for Natural Material Innovation.
Researchers are also working on other potential benefits for the use of timber material including reduced costs in construction, increased fire resistance and reduction in the overall weight of buildings. In terms of the obvious fire safety concern, London’s timber building would, “meet or exceed every existing fire regulation currently in place for steel and concrete buildings.” Ramage went on to say, “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.”
The proposed design was presented to London mayor Boris Johnson last week, so only time will tell if this idea will become a popular one.
The current tallest wooden skyscraper, The Bergen Project – watch below.
Article Written by Mila Medonaite for Design Engine, April 11, 2016