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Wooden skyscraper proposed for the Barbican

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PLP Architecure and Cambridge Uni present 300m-high concept design to Boris

Plans for an 80-storey timber skyscraper rising from London’s Barbican complex have been presented to mayor Boris Johnson.

The toothpick-like concept scheme, drawn up by PLP Architecture, researchers from Cambridge Universithy and engineer Smith and Wallwork, would be second in height only to the Shard and is intended to demonstrate how underused and sustainable wood is as a construction material.

The tallest timber tower at present is a 14 storey apartment block in Bergen, Norway.

The 300m-high London proposal would create more than 1,000 new homes in a one million sq ft mixed-use tower and mid-rise terraces, integrated within the Barbican.

The team behind it claims it is structurally viable and fire resistant and could eventually ‘meet or exceed every existing fire regulation currently in place for steel and concrete buildings.’

The scheme was presented to the London mayor yesterday (Thursday).

PLP partner Kevin Flanagan called the research project ‘groundbreaking’.

He said: ‘We now live predominantly in cities and so the proposals have been designed to improve our wellbeing in an urban context. Timber buildings have the potential architecturally to create a more pleasing, relaxed, sociable and creative urban experience.’

Dr Michael Ramage, director of Cambridge’s Centre for Natural Material Innovation, said: ‘People have a greater affinity for taller buildings in natural materials rather than steel and concrete towers.

Timber and other natural materials are vastly underused

‘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.’

As well as the sustainability benefits, the research is also investigating other aspects of such timber buildings such as the ‘structural methodologies’ informing their design.

The designs for the Barbican is understood to be the first in a series of timber skyscrapers developed by Cambridge University in association with ‘globally renowned’ architects and structural engineers with funding from the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • Sponsored by Ronseal?

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  • Dartington Primary School was only one storey.
    It failed after a couple of years and has still not been brought back into service.
    How many floors is this new project going to be??!!
    A disaster is looming.

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  • There is a contradiction between a building made of timber to reduce environmental impacts and a tower, which is inherently unsustainable. Towers use far more materials in construction and energy in operation than low-rise buildings of the same area.

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