Our project story

Timber Square.

London, UK


A masterclass in making wood work.

Project Lead:
Brian Graham and Frances Brown

Zero-carbon, nature-led solution to build back better.
An exemplar of timber construction innovation.

Challenge accepted.

A timber storage yard and a printworks in past lives, this SE1 site is the focus of an ambitious, landmark project. Full of firsts, it’s a true demonstration of how nature-based solutions in building construction make for a healthy response to climate emergency and net zero carbon targets. Long-lasting, adaptable, vibrant and inspirational workspaces are skilfully sewn into the rich seams of a creative community; Timber Square will be a milestone physical manifesto for the future.

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Timber Square has the resilient infrastructure, meaning the client is free to focus on expressing their brand and culture through their space and using their office to drive collaboration, learning and innovation.
David Heaford, Head of Development at Landsec.

Ground-breaking Design for Performance

Honouring SE1’s industrial heritage while standing out as the UK’s first large commercial development to use cross-laminated timber (CLT), Timber Square will comprise two sizeable office buildings (The Ink Building and The Print Building) with terraces linked by landscaped public realm. The challenge was to think about design from a fresh perspective and interrogate every decision, with sustainable engineering specialisms working together to tackle the complex tapestry of solutions needed. Rising to the secondary challenge of working remotely, our teams supported one another with learning new technology and working collaboratively within the digital model using BIM360.

Sustainability through science

Landsec, developer of the Southwark site, is targeting a stratum of sustainability commitments. These include retaining a quarter of the existing Print Building (the basement and structural frame) to mix elements of the old with the new, using natural and recycled materials, and capitalising on the opportunities for minimising embodied carbon, as well as adopting Design for Performance principles and aiming for very low energy use in operation.
With carbon considered at every stage, the project embraced a timber CLT, as carbon remains sequestered in wood rather than being emitted by steel/cement. Sustainability focused on gaining the best outcome for embodied carbon and undertook whole life carbon assessments, while Fire Engineering and Acoustics collaborated on solutions for implementing CLT, including a full-scale mock-up fire test in France to obtain valuable data and demonstrate how CLT responds under fire conditions.
Technical impact

Putting timber back at the top of the tree

The way we approached carbon on this project was fundamentally different from how it has been done in the past. Our Sustainability, Performance and MEP teams worked with Landsec to enhance outcomes for building energy efficiency using the NABERS UK design for performance approach, which follows science-based targets for meeting the Paris Agreement. Our Performance team also provided touch-line support to the MEP team to ensure the design incorporated suitable metering to allow the consumed energy to be measured in operation. The CLT floor was extensively modelled and tested to support Landsec in obtaining statutory approvals from Building Control, London Fire Brigade and their insurance providers. Likewise, our Acoustics team developed innovative solutions that will pave the way for Landsec to be more confident in using CLT for future projects by ensuring the floor structure was compliant with the BCO specification to minimise noise and vibration transfer between floors.
Human impact

A porous public realm

All eyes are currently on the timber industry – putting forward its case at COP26 – and this pioneering project will make for a pivotal reference point in terms of what’s now possible, turning timber sceptics into believers. In a future where the office is just one element of a wider ecosystem of physical and digital workspaces, a seamless experience for all is more important than ever. With safe spaces to suit a mix of occupants, visitors and residents, considered placemaking will provide a porous public realm with connecting routes to open the site up into its local context, prioritising human-centric, health-focused design and promoting occupational comfort and physical and mental wellbeing.
Embracing a fundamentally different approach to design, every decision was informed by the impact on energy and carbon.
Key Figures
5* calculated rating in the NABERS UK assessment
1st (one of) in the UK to use this approach
17 terraces linked by landscaped public realm

Project Lead:
Brian Graham and Frances Brown