Updated: Dec 3, 2019
As part of the London Design Festival, Waugh Thistleton Architects and Arup have created an interactive maze- like installation in The Sackler Courtyard at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The aim of the pavilion was to confront two of the age's biggest challenges - the urgency to need to fight climate change and the need for housing. It presents the fusion of modular systems and sustainable materials. According to the information boards placed around the installation, around 250,000 new homes would need to be built in the UK every year to keep up with the population growth and deal with years of under supply. To put this into perspective, in 2016-7, only about 184,000 homes were built in the UK, which was a shortfall of approximately 66,000 homes. To increase the supply to meet the growing demand, changes in the way houses are built must be made. The main material that has been used to create MultiPly is tulipwood which is a hardwood that growns throughout the US forests. These trees are super fast growing with the expansion rate of one football pitch every minute and the amount of space that they cover currently exceeds an area equivalent to France and Spain combined. Tulipwood is one of the fastest growing American hardwoods and it only takes 5 minutes for a new forest growth to regenerate all the tulipwood that was used to create MultiPly. Other advantages of this material are the low price, it is easy to machine and incredibly strong for its weight. Within the construction of MultiPly is the CLT which stands for cross laminated timber. It is an engineered product where timber planks are laid perpendicular to one another and glued. It enables the construction of large scale timber buildings without concrete or steel.
Energy use in buildings and construction represents more than one third of global energy consumption and in the UK the construction sector influences nearly half of the greenhouse gas emissions. To tackle this problem MuliPly is said to be a carbon neutral structure. This is because the timber out of which it is made is a sustainable building material that requires little energy to be converted into a wide range of high performance construction products. Growing trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, whilst timber used in building acts as a carbon store. To make MultiPly, 43m3 of tulipwood were used and it amounts to the storage of 30 tonnes of CO2. What happens to it once it is no longer needed? The CLT panels can be easily dismantled and re-used multiple times. They can be re-formed into the original structure or used for new applications (it can also be flat-packed). The components are reusable, recyclable, biodegradable and non toxic.