CLT (cross laminated timber) buildings are becoming more and more popular in the UK, due to relatively liberal building regulations and a progressive attitude towards timber. And with recent advances in engineering, which have improved its strength and stability, these wooden structures are able to go bigger and taller than ever before.
There are many benefits that come with choosing timber. For example, it is a pretty good start in combating climate change. Concrete production accounts for 5% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, while CLT construction offers an 80% reduction in construction traffic and trucks. Architects also praise its benefits post-construction. For example, rot or fungi are not a problem as the wood has been kiln-dried to remove almost all water.
An example of a recent timber construction in London is the project for Wenlock Road by Hawkins\Brown. Wenlock Road, aka The Cube Building, is a 6,750sq m scheme with an alluring twisted cruciform plan that uses a hybrid timber-steel structure.
“Architecture can be driven by the limitations of the structural proposal, but that's not the most exciting way to design buildings because people don't understand what those limitations are when inhabiting these spaces. I think hybrid solutions represent a way of blending the two together to allow ambitious architecture to happen in a more sustainable way.”
Alex Smith Associate, Hawkins\Brown
Alex Smith from Hawkins\Brown, a project architect for Wenlock Road, is clear that CLT has serious sustainability advantages. However, he doesn't believe one needs to be a purist. Waugh Thistleton supports this claim by pointing out,
“This is a brand new material, and we are still trying to understand how the material influences the architecture.”
Waugh Thistleton Architect