Architecture students at London South Bank University (LSBU) have embarked on a new project which encourages them to think about the possibilities of urban wood in architecture. The project launch was marked by an event at the university on 2nd March, headed by three leading architect professionals as well as representatives from LSBU and Metsä Wood.
The main speakers, Alex de Rijke of dRMM Architects, Andrew Waugh of Waugh Thistleton and Jon Broome of Jon Broome Architects shared with students and professors as well as practising architects and engineers, their experiences of working with timber. This included everything from large scale to self-build projects as well as their work with timber in practice and the key role that progressive timber technology has had in their design strategies.
Elephant and Castle, where the university is located, is a prime example of an area where a lot of redevelopment work is being carried out in the city. Old buildings are being pulled down and new ones erected using materials such as concrete and steel with little thought given to restoration and improvements. Architects have begun to challenge the logic of this limited range of structural materials in terms of their energy and resource efficiency, and limitations as sustainable solutions for urban design. So, the tradition of structural timber is now being critically reviewed and reinvented, as a new sensibility about the use of timber - urban wood - emerges.
The student project and event relates to Metsa Wood's Plan B campaign, which has been running for over a year. Plan B essentially looks at the possibilities of wood by planning in detail how famous architectural designs might be built using engineered wood. The Colosseum, the Empire State Building and the Reichstag are all cases which have been considered. You can find more information on these projects at planb.mestwood.com.
For the next few months, the architecture students will be working on their design concepts for the project with the help and guidance of Metsa Wood. Their designs will then be judged later in the year and the top three will receive a prize from Metsä Wood.