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.

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 DesignPosted on

Sculpture in the City, Art for Everyone

SEEN thoroughly enjoyed a preview of the 18 new artworks around the financial district’s square mile. Set up by The City of London in 2010, this excellent initiative expands its footprint every year, improving the area and proving that when people are happy, they work better.

Categories ArtPosted on

Alex Evans at the Foundry Gallery, Chelsea Quarter: LDF17

The astute reader will have noticed that SEEN loves art about London. There are many artists in this city who draw (pun intended) their inspiration from it, none more so than Alex Evans whose fractal renderings hint at the entropic nature of urban life and perhaps also our anxieties and isolation in the 21st century. His latest exhibition ‘Invisible Systems’ can be seen at the Foundry Gallery, tucked away off the King’s Road until 26th October.