Cambridge University proposes 300m timber tower of London

Researchers from Cambridge University’s Department of Architecture have teamed up with PLP Architecture and engineer Smith and Wallwork to propose the addition of an 80-storey, 300m-high wooden tower to the Barbican development in central London.

The team has set out its arguments for the project in a research paper that it last week presented to Boris Johnson, the mayor of London.

If built, the Oakwood Tower, as it would be called, would be only 9.6m short of the Shard, currently London’s tallest building, and the tallest wooden building the world. That record is held by a 14-storey apartment block in Bergen, Norway.

As well as this centerpiece, the group is proposing mid-rise terraces to create more than 1,000 residential units in 1 million square foot of space.

Michael Ramage, director of Cambridge’s Centre for Natural Material Innovation, said: "If London is going to survive it needs to 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."

Kevin Flanagan, a partner at PLP, 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.

"Our firm is currently designing many of London’s tall buildings, and the use of timber could transform the way we build in this city."

Timber structures are currently under construction in Vancouver, Stockholm and Bordeaux.

Images via the University of Cambridge’s website

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