Wood in architecture
Earlier this year construction began on the world’s first permanent building created using hardwood cross-laminated timber (CLT). Designed by architects de Rijke Marsh Morgan (dRMM), Maggie’s Oldham is the first building to utilise the beauty and strength of this revolutionary and sustainable construction material.
The completed building will have playfulness and warmth that supports the central aims of the design of Maggie’s centres – to uplift and offer hope to people affected by cancer - and is constructed predominantly of American tulipwood including structural walls of CLT, one of them curved.
Together with dRMM and Arup, AHEC pioneered the use of hardwood CLT using American tulipwood when we created the Endless Stair for the London Design Festival in 2013. “We co-developed tulipwood CLT for its inherent lightness, strength and expressive warmth,” said Alex de Rijke of dRMM Architects.
CLT has rapidly become a widely accepted means of building around the world and American tulipwood is unlocking the potential of hardwood in this arena. It is a unique resource; it is renewable, has a high strength-to-weight-ratio and sophisticated finish, “making it the right fit for Maggie’s, structurally and conceptually”.
Because of its exciting look, the outer layers of the CLT panels are orientated vertically to provide a pre-finished interior cladding to improve its material efficiency and cost.
AHEC have been able to take hardwood CLT forward to industrial production; most recently to produce The Smile, our Landmark Project for the London Design Festival 2016 with Alison Brooks Architects and Arup.
While The Smile was a highly experimental pavilion and the most ambitious cross-laminated timber structure ever built. Maggie’s is the first permanent commercial building to use this material, it is also the first building in the UK to be clad in thermally modified American tulipwood.
“We will look back at the summer of 2016 as a defining moment for hardwood in construction, using American tulipwood as a pioneering species for the development of industrial hardwood cross-laminated timber,” said David Venables. He continues:
“The experimental Smile for the London Design Festival pushed the boundaries of what is possible in CLT, but it is the first ever use of tulipwood CLT in a permanent structure, dRMM’s Maggie’s project really opens the door to a whole world of new possibilities. It has been very special to play a part in creating something new and exciting at a point in time when building more with timber is essential for a sustainable built environment.”
The new Maggie’s centre is expected to be completed in summer 2017 and will incorporate a distinctive ‘functional artwork’ by Dutch artist Petra Blaisse. Maggie’s Oldham, The Sir Norman Stoller Building, has been made possible through the generosity of the Stoller Charitable Trust as well as the Kinder Trust. Maggie’s is an independent charity that provides free practical, emotional and social support for people with cancer and their family and friends.