According to Lloyd Alter, it should be no surprise that we love wood, particularly if it is sustainably harvested and is displacing carbon-intensive concrete and steel. We love sustainably grown chocolate too, but know that one can have too much of a good thing. And I wonder, if perhaps a 984 foot tower that would be the second tallest in London, is too much of a wood thing.
It is proposed by Cambridge University’s Department of Architecture, working close by PLP Architecture and designing firm Smith and Wallwork, and has been pitched to Mayor Boris, the go-to fellow for shards and cheddar graters and walkie fryscrapers, and now, in the London style of giving senseless names to high rises, the Toothpick. Dr. Michael Ramage of Cambridge examines the need to manufacture tall and clarifies the advantages of wood:
“If London is going to survive it needs to increasingly densify. One way is taller buildings. We believe 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”
Yes, however they are not 80 stories tall. Nor do you need to assemble 80 stories to densify. Here, the engineers are attempting to assemble another tower as is normally done in steel and solid when they say right in the same official statement:
“The tall timber buildings research also looks towards creating new design potentials with timber buildings, rather than simply copying the forms of steel and concrete construction. The transition to timber construction may have a wider positive impact on urban environments and built form, and offers opportunities not only to rethink the aesthetics of buildings, but also the structural methodologies informing their design as well.
Just as major innovations in steel, glass and concrete revolutionized buildings in the 19th and 20th centuries, creating Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace and the Parisian arcades described by Walter Benjamin, innovations in timber construction could lead to entirely new experiences of the city in the 21st century.”
So why not show better ways and better places to achieve density instead of building an 80 storey toothpick. Give us some new aesthetics, methodologies and experiences.