London’s first timber skyscraper is underway and it seems that the UK is leading the way in this architectural concept. PLP Architecture and researchers from the University of Cambridge have revealed a concept for London’s first wooden skyscraper – a 300 metre-tall, 80-story addition to the Barbican housing estate.
“The use of timber could transform the way we build in this city,” said PLP partner Kevin Flanagan. “Timber buildings have the potential architecturally to create a more pleasing, relaxed, sociable and creative urban experience”
Researchers presented the theoretical plans to London mayor Boris Johnson last week. If it goes ahead, it could become London’s second tallest building, after The Shard, and the tallest wooden structure in the world. Currently, Bergen, Norway is the home of the world’s largest tallest timber building, which is a 14-story apartment block.
Up to 1,000 new homes could be included in the 93,000-square-metre floor plan, which would also include mid-rise terraces. Renderings show a pair of adjoining towers with chamfered corners and visible bracing.
Timber is a lightweight and sustainable substitute for traditional construction materials, which could also help to speed construction times and reduce carbon emissions. Whilst steel, glass and concrete revolutionised the 19th and 20th centuries, returning back to wood is set to revolutionise the 21st century in an era of harbouring renewable construction material.
“The use of timber as a structural material in tall buildings is an area of emerging interest for its variety of potential benefits; the most obvious being that it is a renewable resource, unlike prevailing construction methods which use concrete and steel,” said a statement from the University of Cambridge.
One concern which needs to be addressed with plans for a wooden skyscraper is that of fire, but Michael Ramage, Director of Cambridge’s Centre for Natural Material Innovation, said the plans would not move forward if there were any worries regarding safety. In an interview with Business Insider he said: “This is an area where we need more research because it hasn’t been considered on this scale before. But the risk of fire in massive timber buildings is very different and much lower than in the typical wooden buildings that were built when cities burned like London and Chicago.”