Categories ArchitecturePosted on

Playing ‘Jenga’ at the Barbican

Who would have thought that when I was a boy and I used to play ‘Jenga’, that it would one day be possible to build a timber skyscraper in the same manner? The fact is that years have passed, and the technology has been developed to do just that.

300m-wooden-skyscraper-at-barbican-oakwood-tower-by-plp-and-university-of-cambridge_dezeen_1568_0 copy

Who would have thought that when I was a boy and I used to play ‘Jenga’, that it would one day be possible to build a timber skyscraper in the same manner? The fact is that years have passed, and the technology has been developed to do just that.

Unrelated to the game of my youth (and coming back to the real world), PLP Architecture, Cambridge University and Smith and Wallwork have presented research on a 300-metre-high wooden skyscraper, to London’s former Mayor Boris Johnson, last month.

The proposal is for 1000 residential housing units to be added to the Barbican Housing estate. It would be the second tallest building in London, and the tallest timber structure in the world.

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High-rise wooden constructions are on the rise because of certain benefits in comparison with other traditional building materials, such as concrete and steel. Timber proceeds from nature so it is a renewable, durable and resistant material. It is a great partner for current practices in sustainability. A tree absorbs carbon dioxide all its life, so if we transform a tree into building materials then the CO2 can be stored. 1 ton of wood can harbour 1 m3 of CO2 So, use of timber contributes to the reduction of carbon emissions and, of course, the time it takes to construct a building can also be shortened.

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In comparison to the numerous steel and glass skyscrapers that dominate London’s skyline, the city can innovate in design, technology and sustainability with timber projects. Three factors that will improve the quality of life for all Londoners.

An 18‐storey timber building is currently under construction in Vancouver. It will be student residences for British Columbia University, and is set to be the highest wooden structure in the world. But its height will be nothing in comparison with the London project!

No timber building of this scale has ever been attempted, but the 21st century is the time for this kind of sustainable construction. Several similar projects around the world are emerging, but London – as always – will be on top.

Seen this week

Categories FashionPosted on

Colour Smudging by Hare and Bone

With Pride upon us and Festival season well under way, it’s good to ring the changes with your hair. SEEN loves walking about in London, just for the sheer creativity that Londoners and visitors alike display in their choice of hair colours.

Categories NewsPosted on

Somewhere Over the Reignbow: LGBT Rights Protected in Queen’s Speech

With all the recent sombre news, coupled with the feeling that communities in cities are experiencing particular oppression, it is indeed heartening to hear the following words in the Queen’s speech: “My government will make further progress to tackle the gender pay gap and discrimination against people on the basis of their race, faith, gender, …

Categories Food&DrinkPosted on

Oh to be at Camino Bankside Now that Summer is Here

With temperatures set to soar as though it was 1976 (SEEN remembers sweltering through that), your best bet is to get anywhere by the river Thames, where the views are gobsmacking, and the food is fabulous. Like last year, London is awash with marvellous gins – and let’s remind ourselves, if you drink gin you are partaking in a resonant and historical pastime that is inextricably linked to London’s rich, vibrant and – dare we say it – dark past.

Categories ArtPosted on

Kieren Hughes: Urban Dreamscape

SEEN was instantly captivated by the work of the Cheltenham-born artist Kieren Hughes recently. His unsettling images seem born of modern-day anxieties about urban living, as in Chicago Fever Dream or the privileges accrued by a rich elite, as in The Last Privilege of an Oil Man.