Urbanisation is one of the most significant issues facing humanity today
Urbanisation is one of the most significant issues facing humanity today. By 2050, two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. Consequently, urban growth is fast outpacing the ability to build affordable and sustainable living space.
Cities all over the world are in dire need of new ways to house a rapidly growing urban population. Nowhere is this more evident than in the UK and in our capital city, where space is at a premium and housing the ever-growing population continues to pose a huge challenge.
One obvious yet often overlooked solution is to start building up, and stop tearing down. Utilising new modern timber materials such as Metsä Wood’s Kerto LVL (laminated veneer lumbar), enables several storeys to be constructed on top of existing structures. A building extension constructed with a timber frame can be a fast, sustainable and inexpensive solution.
Research shows that approximately a quarter of existing buildings are strong enough to carry additional floors made of wood. Moreover, it is the only material light enough to build quickly on to existing structures. This makes wood a highly promising building material for providing living space for billions of people – while also preserving the architectural heritage of our cities.
In the UK, building a million new homes by 2020 in order to meet the demand of the UK housing crisis requires innovative thinking and the need to explore new possibilities, such a hybrid construction, using a range of materials including steel, concrete, brick and timber.
Through its Plan B project, Metsä Wood has been challenging the perception of architects, constructions engineers and builders as to what is possible with timber construction.
By challenging widely spread preconceptions, Plan B explores various possibilities of wood construction. As part of the project, Metsä Wood offers detailed examples of how to build recognizable, but modern versions of well known architectural buildings, such as the Empire State Building, using wood as the main material.
Metsä Wood also recently ran a competition, inviting architects to design timber structure extensions to existing urban buildings using Kerto LVL as the main material. Entries were submitted from 69 cities worldwide, including Sidney, Shanghai, New York, Berlin, Paris and London. The results were impressive, and all entries and winners can be seen here.
The Plan B project and competition is proving a catalyst for debate on sustainable and progressive cities worldwide. As such, RIBA Journal has invited key players in the fields of architecture, urban design and planning, engineering and the timber industry to take part in a roundtable debate, which will explore the challenges we face in urban design and construction and the role that wood has to play in the solution.
The ‘City Above the City’ roundtable debate will be reported in the May issue of the RIBA Journal.
For more information and technical support visit www.metsawood.com
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