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Looking into the future - wood

This month, we are focusing on a specific resource - wood - and we'll use it to make links between innovation and design, and the future supply and demand for natural materials.

The panel of witnesses will explore how shifts in the way we use wood may change and by focusing on timber in buildings, we are hoping to generate questions related to both forestry production and the kinds of materials that architects, designers and engineers will looking for in the future.

Professor Peter Freer-Smith, the Chief Scientist for Forest Research and Forestry Commission, will bring a 'supply side' perspective to this discussion. He will explore trends in planted forests and the implications for the future of forest products supply in the context of a changing population and climate. 

Jon Kirkpatrick is the Head of Sustainability, Europe, for Lend Lease and acts as the central liaison for all sustainability issues across all of its business units. In addition to embedding sustainability across the business, he works primarily on significant urban projects across Europe including regenerating over 28 acres across three sites at the heart of Elephant & Castle in the heart of London. 

Michael Ramage from the Centre for Natural Materials Innovation will begin by talking about why architects and engineers need to move beyond thinking about tall buildings in terms of steel and concrete. He will also discuss some of the work that he and his group are doing to develop new sustainable applications for renewable, energy-efficient and plant-based natural building materials, such as bamboo and cross-laminated timber. 

This meeting is co-hosted with the Centre for Natural Materials Innovation. Based in the Department of Architecture, this new five-year Leverhulme Trust Research Programme Grant will bring together scientists, engineers, and architects to develop new natural materials capable of providing a renewable and energy-efficient alternative to traditional manufactured materials.

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The FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA 2015) brings together the latest information on the world's forests and how they are changing. The final report will be published in September 2015 at the World Forestry Congress.

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Wood is one of the oldest building materials but its use is limited by its properties. With new funding, researchers aim to stretch these properties to an unprecedented degree, creating the means to build a skyscraper out of plants.

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