Dalston Lane is the world’s largest CLT building and a landmark project in Waugh Thistleton Architects ambition to roll out the use of timber construction in high-density urban housing across London and beyond. The ten-storey, 121-unit development is made entirely of CLT, from the external, party and core walls, through to the floors and stairs, weighing a fifth of a concrete building of this size and reducing the number of deliveries during construction by 80%.
Speaking to Premier Construction magazine about the project, Dave Lomax, Senior Associate at Waugh Thistleton Architects said: “This is a residential/mix use project which comprises of 121 flats; 21 of those are for affordable accommodation with 5 for shared ownership and the rest for social rented. In addition we have 3,300 sq. meters of commercial space including a four storey dedicated office element with a ground floor and basement.
“The most interesting thing is that this is, by volume, the world’s largest low bearing cross laminated structure as we speak.”
The distinctly residential community makes up a large part of the new streetscape and responds in scale with varied roof heights, undulating between five and ten storeys, each orientated to maximise daylight to the apartments’ balconies and communal open spaces. The building’s intricate brickwork references both the surrounding Victorian and Edwardian housing and the craftsmanship-like detailing of the local warehouse.
Dave added: “The challenges we got were the usual challenges and they tended to be the bits with the traditional materials and things you get on all kinds of projects. One of the interesting design challenges was that we have the existing HS1 line directly under the site, the reserved zone for Crossrail 2 under the site and we also have the cutting for the over ground trains to the north of the site, so that gave us some constraints both physically and in terms of weight as we had a limit of 50km per metre squared on site. That was an interesting crossover for us because the timber is lighter so we got an order of 20-25 extra homes on site within the weight limit and on a 900ml concrete raft rather than piles.”
The project has been the subject of an exciting partnership with the London Borough of Hackney and timber-engineering specialists Ramboll and is fast becoming the subject of international interest, attracting hundreds of site visitors and putting Hackney firmly on the map as a world leader for timber construction.
The project was recently recognised in the 2017 Structural Timber Awards and won awards in the categories of ‘Solid Wood Project of the Year, ’Private Housing Project of the Year and ‘Winner of Winners,’ alongside B&K Structures.
Commenting on the project’s success, Dave said: “It’s really exciting to be acknowledged in that way. B&K Structures were the sub-contractors and they were great to work with. It is great to be acknowledged in that part of the industry to say we are genuinely pushing things forward in to new markets. There are lots of people doing great work and I think three of the six buildings nominated for the Stirling prize this year were mass timber structures, so there are people doing amazing and exciting things with the beauty and aesthetic of the material, but what we are trying to do is make a difference in the volume that we are trying to build and I think the Structural Timber Awards recognise that with the nudging into a new category based on the scale of project that we have done with Regal and Dalston.”