“Timber is the new concrete”, says Alex de Rijke, partner at dRMM (de Rijke Marsh Morgan), and an exhibition of the practice’s work at London’s Building Centre presents wood as “the defining material of twenty-first-century architecture”.
‘Forest of Fabrication’ comprises 24 projects, designed over 24 years, including both built and unbuilt structures. The practice’s early experiments with engineered timber construction are represented by works such as the proposed flat-packed Naked House (2006), the realised MK40 Tower at Milton Keynes (2007) and Kingsdale Foundation School in South London (2007) – the first public use of cross-laminated timber in the UK.
Other projects have provided the opportunity to further the technical development of engineered timber construction, such as the Endless Stair (2013), sponsored by the American Hardwood Export Council and built for the London Design Festival, for which the first hardwood cross-laminated timber components were fabricated.
More recently, dRMM has explored the possibilities for high-rise engineered timber construction – as in three tree-like residential towers at Sandnes, Norway (2012), and a ‘Jenga’-like proposed 10 - storey residential tower at Weston-super-Mare (2016), which vertically extends a former Magistrates’ Court.
Walliscote Place, Weston-super-Mare
Other projects represent the potential benefits of timber – both in terms of structure and sustainability – in diverse applications, from wide-span and heavily-loaded buildings to floating architecture. DRMM is also an advocate of the benefits of timber in enhancing wellbeing, which informs the use of material in projects such as the Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre at Oldham (2017).
A programme of tours and talks accompanies the exhibition. All events are held at the Building Centre, with booking details at its website.
‘Forest of Fabrication – dRMM: pioneers of timber architecture’
The Building Centre, Store Street, London, WC1E 7BT
8 February – 17 May 2019