Timber High-Rise Building, Wooden Skyscraper London, PLP Barbican Tower Project, Image

New Wooden Skyscraper in London

High-Rise Timber Construction: Barbican Tower Proposal design by University of Cambridge team

15 Apr 2016

New Wooden Skyscraper at Barbican, London

Design: team from Centre for Natural Material Innovation, University of Cambridge with PLP Architecture

Wooden Skyscraper proposed for central London

No it isn’t April Fool’s Day, this is a real proposal, but unlikely to be built at this height.

A 300-metre high wooden skyscraper has been proposed for central London by a team of architecture researchers from the University of Cambridge. Buildings made of wood are lighter, cheaper, and faster to erect, researchers say.

New Wooden Skyscraper in London
image of the London wooden tower proposal

London mayor Boris Johnson is currently considering the project, with architects hoping to erect the 80-storey timber building in the capital’s Barbican complex—a residential area built during the 1960s and ’70s. The skyscraper would apparently provide more than 1,000 new flats.

New Wooden Skyscraper in London tower

“The Barbican was designed in the middle of the last century to bring residential living into the city of London—and it was successful. We’ve put our proposals on the Barbican Estate, London as a way to imagine what the future of construction could look like in the 21st century,” Dr Michael Ramage, director of Cambridge’s Centre for Natural Material Innovation, told the Cambridge University News.

The researchers—whose project is supported PLP Architecture and Smith and Wallwork—said that, when compared to materials such as steel and concrete, timber is cheaper and lighter. Apparently, it also takes less time to build multi-storey buildings based on a timber structure. Additionally, it’s a renewable resource, because the type of wood needed doesn’t have to come from troubled rainforests.

Canada alone could produce enough wood of the “crop” type in the next 70 years to house a billion people, the researchers claimed.

New Wooden Skyscraper Design in London

Addressing the obvious concern of fire safety, they asserted that the proposed skyscraper “would eventually meet or exceed every existing fire regulation currently in place for steel and concrete buildings.”

“If London is going to survive it needs to increasingly densify,” Dr Michael Ramage said. “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 proposed skyscraper—if built—would be the second tallest structure in London after The Shard, and significantly higher than the 14-storey apartment block in Bergen, Norway, which currently holds the world record for the highest wooden house.

“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,” said Ramage.

New Wooden Skyscraper at Barbican in London

About PLP Architecture
PLP Architecture was founded in 2009 by Lee Polisano, David Leventhal, Fred Pilbrow, Karen Cook and Ron Bakker, the former partners who were responsible for leading KPF’s London office over the last 20 years.

Wooden Skyscraper Building Designs

Wooden Skyscraper, Stockholm, Sweden
Design: Berg | C.F. Møller Architects
Wooden Skyscraper Wooden Skyscraper Stockholm Wooden Skyscraper in Stockholm
images : Berg | C.F. Møller Architects
Wooden Skyscraper Building

HoHo Tower, Vienna, Austria
Design: RLP Rüdiger Lainer + Partner, Architects
HoHo Tower
image from architects
Wooden Skyscraper

PLP Architecture

Barbican Estate, London

Location: Barbican Estate, London, England, UK

London Architecture

Contemporary Architecture in London

London Architecture Links – chronological list

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New London Skyscrapers

London Skyscrapers

The Shard London – key skyscraper in England – design by RPBW
The Shard London
photo: Potto – Skyscraper City
The Shard – further information on the tower

‘Walkie Talkie’ building, Fenchurch St, City of London
Walkie Talkie building London
image from Rafael Viñoly Architects
Walkie Talkie building

122 Leadenhall Street
Design: Richard Rogers Partnership
122 Leadenhall Street
image : Cityscape
Tallest building in City of London – at time of writing

Key Existing London Skyscrapers

Canary Wharf, Isle of Dogs
Cesar Pelli, architect
Canary Wharf Tower
photograph © Jason Baxter

Tower 42 – formerly Nat West Tower
London office tower
183m high, 47 floors – tallest building in London until 1 Canada Square in 1990

The Shard Building

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Website: Wooden Skyscraper Architects – PLP Architecture, UK