Nov 23

‘A pioneering achievement of timber architecture’ – office complex wins 2 prizes

The Black & White Building is a double winner in the Wood Awards 2023 – with the Waugh Thistleton Architect-designed timber office block taking out both the Commercial and Sustainability categories.

This 17.8-metre-high mass timber office complex, commissioned by forward thinking developers The Office Group (TOG), stands tall as a leading example of sustainable and innovative design – founded on low-carbon construction, circularity and natural materials; which work for people and planet.

The design of the project was praised by the judges for its deeply considered sustainable agenda, and use of renewable, low-carbon timber as its primary material source through every element of the building.

Although both the building’s exterior and interiors are visually beautiful, nothing is purely decorative. Every element of the building serves a purpose, from the timber louvres that envelope the façade, reducing solar gain, to the furniture designed to encourage social connectivity.

By embracing a primary superstructure of beech LVL frame and CLT slabs, the building’s embodied carbon is only 410kgCO2e/m² (A1-A5) – approximately 37% less than that of a concrete structure of the same size with –1,014.7 tonnes of CO2 sequestered in the timber used in this superstructure.

On the building’s exterior a solar shading cladding system, made from thermally modified American tulipwood, is central to the scheme’s passive cooling strategy. The timber fins change in angle as they ascend the building, protecting it from solar radiation, and optimising the flow of natural light and heat into the workspace.

Designed to be durable and resilient, with generous, open workspaces, the building’s layout can be easily adapted to meet future demands. Both the superstructure and façade are also designed for disassembly, able to be deconstructed and redeployed in other projects as a kit of parts to extend their lifecycle.

The Black & White Building was built by Parkeray and Mid Group, while the timber frame was built by Hybrid Structures. The wood suppliers were Zueblin, Pollmeier, Raico, and Northland Forest Products with machining for the façade by Vincent Timber and technical support by AHEC. The structural engineers were Eckersley O’Callaghan, with timber engineering provided by Engenuiti.

Jim Greaves of Hopkins Architects, the lead building judge of the Wood Awards, said:

“This benchmark project pushes forward the use of timber in office building in the UK. Wood is used structurally and internally in numerous, carefully considered, and well-integrated ways, creating a workspace that is truly pleasurable to be in. Executed with great integrity, resolution and coordination, the Black & White Building is a pioneering achievement of sustainable timber architecture.”

The Wood Awards building judges, a team of world-leading professionals led by Jim Greaves of Hopkins Architects, visited all 20 buildings shortlisted in the Wood Awards before deciding the winners, in one of the UK’s most rigorous assessments for any competition.

At the 2023 Wood Awards this year’s best new timber building was also announced as New Temple Complex, designed by James Gorst Architects. Spruce House & Studio, Westminster Hall Roof & Lantern, The Boathouse, Benenden School, Centenary Hall & Music School, Dragon Flat and Field Station also all won their categories, showcasing the diverse use of timber, from large commercial offices through to intimate private homes.

As a not-for-profit competition, the Wood Awards can only happen with collaborative industry sponsorship. A huge thank you for continued support from Carpenters CompanyAmerican Hardwood Export Council and Timber Development UK.