The Big Squeeze

Engineered timber has gained traction as a structural solution, with the UK seeing a rapid increase in the number of offsite manufactured hybrid timber buildings. With many developers taking advantage of its numerous benefits and areas such as the London Borough of Hackney, supporting this rapid and sustainable form of construction – the current trend is set to continue and intensify.

Aiming high

In densely populated cities such as London, where space is limited and land comes at a premium, many developers are looking for solutions to rapidly maximise their return on investment. Tall timber is becoming part of our vernacular and extra storeys equate to a better return on investment. Cross laminated timber panels and glulam beams, as robust, yet lighter weight structural solutions, reduce overall foundation requirements. Where loading restrictions apply due to the underground infrastructures, using engineered timber as the core structural solution can permit more storeys than when building in concrete and steel.

Cross laminated timber is a stable solution that has little shrinkage or movement post construction. It has proven multi-storey capability, at 33 metres high, the 10 storey apartment project in Dalston Lane, Hackney, is set to become one of the world’s tallest cross laminated timber buildings.

In prime urban locations, where land comes at a premium, reducing the foundations saves costs on the ground and by increasing the height of the development, mitigates the issue of high land prices – offering a better return on investment.


Adding Value

Increasing a development upwards and downwards has become popular in big cities as builders seek to utilise all available space. However, due to the light weight nature of cross laminated timber, developers are taking things a step further and installing extra storeys or penthouses on the top of existing buildings. Luxury penthouse apartments are popular in central London and are seen as a cost effective measure because they offer more value per square metre as panoramic views of the capital command a premium. Penthouse additions can also uplift the value of the individual units due to the enhanced mix of apartments within the scheme.

Scheduling Deliveries

Due to restricted ground space, offloading deliveries onto urban sites can often prove challenging. To overcome this ‘just in time deliveries’ are often implemented where stock and supplies are delivered when needed as there is no available storage space onsite.

Building onsite can often lead to increased disruption from noise, litter and dust which can be an annoyance for those living close to the locality. This is a sizable problem in urban areas. Taking the main elements of the construction process offsite, can go some way to alleviating this issue. Increasing the speed of construction in a densely populated environment, along with the reduction in noise and waste that can be achieved through the use of offsite technologies, results in far less intrusion on the local community than traditional construction methods.

Cross laminated timber has many design benefits, it lends itself to offsite construction, offers a far quicker programme and has the capacity to build at height. As the population in UK cities steadily increases, engineered timber will provide a valuable housing option for city developers, as the big squeeze continues for the foreseeable future.


Optimised Hybrid Structures – CPD

B & K Structures, as the UK’s leading sustainable frame contractor, specialise in the design, manufacture and delivery of optimised hybrid structures. With an outstanding, award winning portfolio across all commercial sectors – B & K Structures offer a complete package of material services, across a wide range of structural products including glulam, cross laminated timber, timber cassettes and steel as part of a hybrid structural solutions.

For more information or book an Optimised Hybrid CPD session, please:

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