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Competition: The city above the city

An open international competition with a €30,000 prize fund has been launched seeking concepts to extend existing structures upwards using timber (Deadline: 30 Sept)

Backed by Finnish manufacturer Metsä Wood, the contest seeks ideas for additional floor space for new housing on top of existing urban buildings across the world.

Proposals may focus on a single site or on a general solution, and should be centred on large capital cities such as London, Berlin, Paris, Washington, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Istanbul and Shanghai.

Metsa Wood

Metsa Wood

City above the city contest visual

According to the brief: ‘Housing the world’s growing urban population is one of the most significant challenges facing humanity today. Currently, half of the world’s population lives in cities. By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Cities must develop strategically to meet these immense housing demands along with the associated infrastructure.

‘Too often the proposed solutions to this problem show little regard for the existing framework of our cities, choosing instead to re­place the old with new, at great environmental, social, and cultural cost. The greatest design chal­lenge then, is not only to build new structures, but to build upon the existing fabric of our cities, knitting together old and new. Today, engineered wood offers designers an incredible opportunity to meet this challenge.’

Metsä was founded in 1947, and operates in 30 countries in the northern hemisphere, employing around 11,500 people to produce wood for construction and paper.

Metsa Wood

Metsa Wood

City above the city contest visual

According to the competition organisers, up to a quarter of existing buildings could support timber additions. Participants are encouraged to focus on buildings that are disused or under threat of demolition, and concepts must primarily harness Metsa’s Kerto laminated veneer lumber product.

Recent high-profile timber schemes include Wren Architecture and Design’s East Shopping Centre in London, which used KertoS and KertoQ in its roof.

PLP Architecure and Cambridge University researchers also revealed plans for a 300m-high wooden skyscraper near London’s Barbican earlier this year.

Competition judges include Michael Green of Vancouver-based Michael Green Architects, London South Bank University lecturer Mike Kane, and Stefan Winter, professor at the Technical University of Munich.

The winner will receive €10,000, and there will also be two second-place prizes of €5,000 and five third-place prizes of €2,000.

How to apply

Deadline

30 September

Contact details

Metsä Wood
P.O. Box 50
FI02020
Metsä
Finland

Email: competition2016@metsagroup.com
Tel: +358 1046 05

Visit the competition website for more information

Stadthaus case study: Q&A with Andrew Waugh

The director of Waugh Thistleton Architects discusses lessons learned designing a residential timber skyscraper in Shoreditch, east London

How did your Stadthaus project harness timber to create a residential tower for London?

For the first time we were able to demonstrate that timber can be used as a viable alternative to concrete and steel. It is essential that as our cities increase in density we use low-carbon materials to build with. Murray Grove is constructed entirely from timber from the first floor up; the structure, lift shafts and stairs are made from an engineered timber called CLT. CLT – cross laminated timber – is made from laminating planks of timber in perpendicular layers to form massive panels capable of forming the floor slabs and external walls necessary to build tall.

London

London

Source: Image by Will Pryce

Stadthaus by Waugh Thistleton Architects

What considerations are important when designing a timber skyscraper such as Stadthaus?

Engineered timber buildings weigh a fifth of the concrete and steel equivalent. The light weight of the structure has massive advantages in terms of foundations and deliveries but requires careful design when it comes to withstanding wind loads. Protection against fire is an important consideration in every tall building, a mass timber building is no exception. Mass timber is stronger and more predictable under fire than either steel or concrete.

London

London

Source: Image by Will Pryce

Stadthaus by Waugh Thistleton Architects

How would you set about designing a timber extension for an existing skyscraper in a prominent urban location?

Understanding the structural capacity and the engineering of the existing building is key. Other contextual issues such as the proximity of neighbouring buildings, wind conditions and orientation will be vital. A fascinating issue for these types of venture will be how to key into the existing services, lifts and stairs. I imagine these new buildings upon building emerging like giant fungus - surging from the buildings that support them! Great opportunities in our underused cities.

London

London

Source: Image by Will Pryce

Stadthaus by Waugh Thistleton Architects

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