Combining sustainable American tulipwood with innovative methods of modular construction, MultiPly confronts two of the current age’s biggest challenges – the pressing need for housing and the urgency to fight climate change.

About this project

A collaboration between AHEC, Waugh Thistleton Architects and Arup, that challenges how we build our towns and cities. The main ambition of the project being to instigate a discussion on how to address the issue of climate change in the built environment.

First installed at the V&A during London Design Festival 2018, the 9-metre high American tulipwood installation with its labyrinthine spaces lead visitors through a series of stairs, corridors and open spaces, inviting them to explore the potential of wood in architecture. 

MultiPly had a high level of permeability to allow views through to the facade and courtyard, but also to entice viewers into the structure, so that they can experience new, carefully considered views to the existing heritage facades of the V&A.

The original structure comprised 17 interconnecting modules, made from a total of 102 60mm and 100 mm thick x 2.6m long cross laminated timber panels (CLT) finger-jointed by Glenalmond Timber and fabricated at the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC).

Working with CSIC rather than an established continental CLT producer enabled Waugh Thistleton and Arup to have more control through each stage of the manufacturing process and refine the intricate design.

Highlighting the potential for the speed of construction of the modules was paramount. All of the joints have been digitally manufactured by Stage One with great precision and, to make the design even more streamlined, there are only two steel construction details. These clever design details means the structure arrives and is assembled in under a week.

A unique partnership of business, academia and applied research came together to make the tulipwood cross laminated timber panels (CLT) for MultiPly. Glenalmond Timber, Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) and Edinburgh Napier University’s Centre for Offsite Construction + Innovative Structures (COCIS) all made key contributions. They all also agreed that the project held lessons for the future of wood-based building and specifically use of hardwood in engineered timber construction.

Now at its second site at The Building Centre in Bloomsbury, a smaller version of Multiply is on display until 21 October as part of the NLA exhibition 'Factory-made housing: a solution for London?'.

Further information

American Hardwood Export Council

Images: Ed Reeve

Key contacts




Waugh Thistleton

Structural Engineer


Timber supplier

James Latham; Glenalmond Timber (engineering); CSIC (manufacture)

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