Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to the newest version of your browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of Construction News, please enable cookies in your browser.

Welcome to the Construction News site. As we have relaunched, you will have to sign in once now and agree for us to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Plans submitted for wooden skyscraper in London's Barbican

Oakwood Tower Barbican View

Plans for an 80-storey timber skyscraper rising from London’s Barbican complex have been submitted to mayor Boris Johnson.

The scheme, designed by PLP Architecture, Cambridge University researchers and engineer Smith and Wallwork, would be second in height only to the Shard and is intended to demonstrate how underused and sustainable wood is as a construction material.

The tallest timber tower at present is a 14-storey apartment block in Bergen, Norway, reports Construction News’ sister title Architects’ Journal.

The 300 m-high proposal would create more than 1,000 new homes in a one million sq ft mixed-use tower and mid-rise terraces, integrated within the Barbican.

The team behind it claims it is structurally viable and fire-resistant and could eventually “meet or exceed every existing fire regulation currently in place for steel and concrete buildings”.

The scheme was presented to the London mayor yesterday (Thursday).

PLP partner Kevin Flanagan called the research project “groundbreaking”. “We now live predominantly in cities and so the proposals have been designed to improve our wellbeing in an urban context,” he said.

“Timber buildings have the potential architecturally to create a more pleasing, relaxed, sociable and creative urban experience.”

Oakwood Tower night

Oakwood Tower night

The 300 m-high tower would create more than 1,000 homes

Director of Cambridge’s Centre for Natural Material Innovation Michael Ramage said: “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.”

As well as the sustainability benefits, the research is also investigating other aspects of such timber buildings such as the ‘structural methodologies’ informing their design.

The design for the Barbican is understood to be the first in a series of timber skyscrapers developed by Cambridge University in association with architects and structural engineers, with funding from the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.