Technical Study: The Black & White Building by Waugh Thistleton

FM_1208_WaughThistleton_BW_View01_Updates_180822_glass reflection darker

The Office Group’s first new-build project will be London’s tallest timber office building when it completes next year. And as for the reduction in embodied carbon compared with concrete – well, the numbers speak for themselves. Thomas Lane reports

FM_1208_WaughThistleton_BW_View01_Updates_180822_glass reflection darker

For anyone thinking of building a low-carbon office, there is a dilemma to resolve. Timber is a good choice for a structural frame due to its lower embodied carbon; better than steel or concrete. But wood is not as strong as traditional materials, so the structural members need to be bigger, eating into valuable lettable space.

This is particularly undesirable in high-value areas like central London. And there are negative perceptions about fire performance, although this is less problematic than for residential buildings as different rules apply. These issues have not deterred co-working and flexible office space specialist The Office Group from going for a timber-framed office for its first new-build project, however.

It appointed specialist timber architect Waugh Thistleton to replace a former four-storey Office Group co-working space called the Black & White Building on Rivington Street, a narrow road fringed by former warehouses, restaurants and bars in the heart of Shoreditch. The £19.3m project, which bears the same name, makes the most of a constrained plot which is hemmed in on three sides by adjacent buildings to the west and rear and a railway line separated by a yard to the east.

The new building is a game of two halves. Its front half features a cutaway to get light into the lower floors on the west side and is five storeys high in order to avoid towering above its neighbours, while the six-storey rear section fills the width of the plot. A single-storey basement has been added to create more space.

This is premium content. 

Only logged in subscribers have access to it.

Login or SUBSCRIBE to view this story

Gated access promo

Existing subscriber? LOGIN

A subscription to Building Design will provide:

  • Unlimited architecture news from around the UK
  • Reviews of the latest buildings from all corners of the world
  • Full access to all our online archives
  • PLUS you will receive a digital copy of WA100 worth over £45.

Subscribe now for unlimited access.

Alternatively REGISTER for free access on selected stories and sign up for email alerts