Could wood be the new concrete? If a number of recently completed, high-rise timber projects internationally are anything to go by, the only way might indeed be up for this most enduring and trusty of building materials.
The nine-storey Stadthaus in East London, designed by Waugh Thistleton, took four people only 27 days to build. From demolition of the previous structure to people moving in, 11 months elapsed; photo Will Pryce
Timber architecture is having a moment. And long may it last says its fast-growing and passionate community of proponents. For one thing, it’s a far more sustainable material to build with than concrete and cement because it sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (one tonne per cubic metre of wood); for another it’s a healthier and more pleasant environment to live in due to improved acoustics and thermal performance. ‘CLT construction sites are happy, productive places too,’ says Andrew Waugh, founding partner of London-based architecture practice Waugh Thistleton, who has been working with prefabricated CLT (cross-laminated timber) panels for 15 years. ‘They are clean, quiet and dry with no site waste, cement mixers, hammer drills or lorries constantly turning up on site.’