Worlds largest timber building shortlisted for architectural award

Dalston Lane in Hackney Pic: Daniel Shearing

The world’s largest timber building, a residential complex in Dalston Lane, Hackney, has been shortlisted for an architect award.

The landmark project, which is in Dalston Lane itself in central Hackney,  aims to encourage timber construction in urban areas across London and help tackle the housing crisis.

Hackney is now considered to be the world leader in timber constructions and the project architects Waugh Thistleton want other areas of London to follow suit. The project has been shortlisted in the sustainability category in this year’s AJ Architects’ Journal Awards.

The building is made out of Cross Laminated Timber  a material that has become a popular building material over the past five years as it is cheaper, cleaner, quicker and quieter.

Dalston Lane is part of Hackney councils ‘Timber First’ policy, which was launched in 2012 as a way of prioritising the use of wood as a primary constructional material. Hackney council told ELL: “The Council recognises the many environmental and construction advantages of building in wood and is supportive of anyone considering using timber as a structural material.”

A spokesperson from Waugh Thistleton told ELL: “Timber sequesters carbon as it grows, so by building in timber we lock away carbon that would otherwise be lost to the atmosphere exacerbating global warming.”

Only 111 deliveries of materials were needed during the construction, which is considerably lower compared to a concrete and steel project which would have required over 700 deliveries. The construction process is ideal for urban development as it minimises noise disruption as it is quieter to build with and it can increase density because of its light structure.

The building, which has just been completed, will be home to 800 people and has a gym and office spaces.

The recent popularity of timber constructions comes from its potential to help solve the UK housing crisis. Waugh Thistleton said: ”Using pre-fabricated timber and offsite construction technologies mean we can deliver housing more quickly, and to a higher quality than traditional methodologies.”

Timber reduced the carbon footprint of the construction Pic: Daniel Shearing

The recent publication of the “Designed, sealed, delivered” report called for the Mayor of London to utilise offsite manufactured homes (OMH) to help deliver 50,000 new homes a year to meet growing needs. Timber constructions are part of this new initiative to provide more homes for Londoners. Waugh Thistleton said: “The recent report commissioned by the London Assembly further emphasises the benefits of off-site construction as a means to address the homes shortage.”

The Dalston Lane building is the largest timber housing project in the world but it isn’t the first. In 2008 Waugh Thistleton architects constructed Murray Grove in Shoreditch, the first urban housing project in the world. They are also in the process of replacing a disused office block in Cambridge Heath into modern workspaces made from CLT.

Several timber buildings in the borough have won the Hackney Design Award. Hackney council said: “There are the many other recent examples of award-winning timber buildings in Hackney including, Barretts Grove in Stoke Newington, The Cube, in Wenlock Cross and Frampton Park Baptist Church.”


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