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Department of Architecture


Centre for Natural Material Innovation
Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge

Between the 1st and 7th July 2019, the Centre for Natural Material Innovation was selected nationally to showcase its research on ‘Timber towers of tomorrow’ at the prestigious Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London.

The stand was constructed in-house and modelled after an apartment nested within the proposed Oakwood Timber Tower at the Barbican. The exhibit brought to life the familiar sensory appeal of timber with an innovative display of the group’s research across scales – from 3D-printed cell walls and samples retrieved from the Mary Rose to skyscraper models flown in from across the world.

After water, concrete is the most consumed material by humanity. Its production is resource intensive and leads to tremendous carbon dioxide emissions. Timber is about five times lighter than concrete and is the only building material that we can grow. Every tonne of timber expunges 1.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Advances in engineered timber in the last few decades make it a renewable alternative and our research shows how we can fundamentally transform the way we build to enable new naturally based materials to substitute conventional manufactured ones on a global scale.


Download an Education Pack

Download a foldable model of the River Beech Tower, Chicago

CNMI website:


Royal Society: Timber Towers of Tomorrow

Cambridge University: Wooden skyscrapers: Sustainable homes of the future?

Research funded by

The Leverhulme Trust

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

Interreg France (Channel) England – ERDF

Arts and Humanities Impact Fund, University of Cambridge


With support from

PLP Architecture  •  Smith and Wallwork Engineers

Perkins + Will  •   Thornton Tomasetti

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners  •   Atelier One

Waugh Thistleton Architects  •  Eckersley O’Callaghan Engineers


Stora Enso

Pollmeier BauBuche

Margent Farm

Moso International BV