Blog: SECBE Awards 2022 finalist - The Black and White Timber Office Building

06 April 2022

Modern Methods of Construction

The Black and White Timber Office Building (submitted by Mid Group)  

Modern Methods of Construction Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 Finalist

The commercial office market is in transition, with sustainability, employee wellbeing and staff attraction driving change. The Office Group have led the way in the London office market, committing to the largest MMC timber constructed net zero carbon office in the City.

Carbon is a key driver for occupiers and building users moving forwards, with The Mayor having set ambitious aims for London to be a zero carbon city by 2030 – a great opportunity for TOG. 

Sitting within a conservation area in the heart of London’s Shoreditch, with a historically restrictive site, the new six-storey 45,000 sq. ft. building will deliver an increase in new floor space over four times the previous building. Owned by The Office Group since 2013 as a co-working space, the new building will see the site transformed into a high quality, flexible and social workspace highly appealing to the up-and-coming Shoreditch tech scene.

The Client wanted to reduce embodied carbon using wood. In theory, wood is not as strong as traditional materials, so structural members need to be bigger, eating into valuable lettable space. The building also had to be constructed in its own footprint, meaning MMC had to be leveraged to be able to deliver the project in its constraints on site, with limited storage or logistics space.

The building features a CLT core and has timber-framed curtain walling and wooden brise soleil. Crucially, this building employs an engineered timber product called BauBuche for the beams and columns which goes a long way towards addressing the structural space issue. It's a hardwood laminated veneer lumber, an engineered product made from very thin layers of beech. BauBuche is 2.9 times stronger than glulam because beech is denser and stronger and arranging it in thin layers creates a stronger product than the short blocks used in CLT and glulam. The columns are 350mm square compared with 450mm if it were glulam.

Standout benefits of our Offsite approach:

  • The building had to be constructed in its own footprint, meaning MMC had to be leveraged to be able to deliver the project within its constraints, with limited storage or logistics space.  We used BIM to unlock complex logistical challenges, with extensive third-party consents including party wall awards, rights of light, crane oversailing and a BAPA.
  • Lifting large wood elements, has mitigated noise and dust issues. Timber frame erection, including floors was 16 weeks. Concrete / steel would be a lot longer. “The frame went up in 16 weeks with six to eight men. We’ve had so many compliments from local businesses about the lack of noise and dust.” Graham Turner, Project Lead.
  • Offsite manufacturing delivered very accurate dimensions for setting out and penetrations (builders work, doorways, lift shaft etc). The lift supplier, Ideal Lifts, were delighted with the accuracy of the CLT lift shaft as concrete shafts need more adjustment of the lift frame to bring these within tolerance. All column joints and interactions between the frame, slabs and raised access flooring were standard repetitive details.
  • The beams are partly buried in the CLT floor slabs. Just 350mm of the beam projects below the slab, as opposed to 550mm for glulam. Crucially for an office, BauBuche can have notches cut into it for services, further reducing the space needed.

Efficiencies included No plastering / decorations to main walls and ceilings so no future maintenance, only required 2-3 delivery loads per week so fewer traffic movements with less operatives required so less personnel getting to and from site.

Key achievements:

  • The building is Net Zero Carbon in construction and operation.

  • We have leveraged new timber products and techniques to create London’s largest and most efficient timber office building.

  • We have worked collaboratively with the supply chain and professional team to deploy precision offsite manufacturing and assembly on a highly constrained site.

Client: The Office Group

Project Partners: Mid Group, Waugh Thistleton Architects

Find more about Mid Group


Find out who wins at the Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 Ceremony on Thurs 30th June 2022.

About the Modern Methods of Construction :

This Award Category considers a number of factors that are convening to make offsite construction a more attractive solution than ever before and help address systemic failures including low productivity, low predictability, low margins, adversarial pricing, lack of culture for collaboration, limited R&D and investment in innovation and poor image.  More info.

>> Find out more about the other Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards finalists here

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