World’s tallest wooden structure proposed for London

London is set to get its first ever wooden skyscraper if plans are approved.

Plans for the Oakwood Tower have recently been unveiled and if approved, Oakwood Tower will not only be London’s first ever wooden skyscraper, it will also become the second tallest building in London as well as the tallest wooden structure in the world.

Oakwood Tower will be a towering 80-storey building and 300 metres high, just nine metres shorter than The Shard and will be located within the Barbican complex in central London.

Currently, the title for the world’s tallest wooden building goes to the 14-storey Treet building in Bergen, Norway.

According to Dr Michael Ramage, Director of Cambridge’s Centre for Natural Material Innovation, “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.”

There are also many benefits of using timber, one of which is that it is a renewable resource. Secondly, it is far lighter than steel and concrete, allowing construction times to be shortened. However, one factor that needs to be carefully looked at is that the building would need to meet fire regulations, but the proponents say that these requirements are already met or exceeded. The last thing that London wants to see is another Great Fire of London.

As well as being a renewable resource and shortening construction times, the University of Cambridge also suggests that “recent research has also shown that timber buildings can have positive effects on their user and occupant’s health. Some recent studies have also shown that children taught in schools with timber structures may perform better than in those made of concrete.”

Plans by PLP Architecture and researchers from Cambridge University’s Department of Architecture are currently with London Mayor Boris Johnson.

If this development goes ahead, then this project would house hundreds of units of low-cost housing and would be the centrepiece of a 1 million square foot mixed-use development. It would also house a series of rooftop gardens, giving the impression of a vertical greenspace.

But it’s not just Europe that are exploring the benefits of building high-rises and skyscrapers out of wood. New York is planning on its own first wooden tower at 475 West 18th Street in Chelsea, whilst a change to building regulation codes in Australia, effective from 1 May 2016, means architects will be able to build timber-frames structures up to eight storeys in height.

These changes are thought to offer cost savings of up to 15 per cent, compared to other types of construction. Building with wood will also offer faster build times as well as less noise and disruption. Wood will also allow more innovative design approaches, creating far more unique buildings and helping to create more sustainable buildings.

It is without a doubt that the world will start to see far more timber buildings and skyscrapers in the future and in the past five years alone there have been 17 tall wood buildings created including Treet in Bergen, Norway, Trafalgar Place in London and Puukuokka in Finland.
Published on 19th of April 2016 by Marty Stanowich
Marty Stanowich
Marty Stanowich


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