My Favourite Wooden Object

Tulipwood CLT sample

Alex de Rijke

I am interested in materials. Who likes steel and concrete? Engineers and architects. Who likes wood? People.

One of the things that makes wood more interesting than other building materials is that it communicates its history and character. The tree species, age, climate and place in which it grew, its particular size, shape, colour and strength – all of this is evident in every plank.

A benefit of “engineered” timber is that cheaper softwoods can, when laminated, match or outperform hardwoods. My special wood object is the first sample I received of cross-laminated sustainable hardwood, an invention revealing new potential for strength and beauty in timber architecture.

This treasured Tulipwood CLT sample was made by the American Hardwood Export Council and tested by ARUP on dRMM’s Endless Stair project in 2013. This success led to our Maggie’s Oldham cancer centre, the first laminated hardwood building in the world and a prototype for healthy architecture of the future.

Professor Alex de Rijke, Founding Director, dRMM

Photo: A. de Rijke