52 Whitmore Road
Waugh Thistleton Architects
- Original design
- Waugh Thistleton Architects, 2012
This mixed use, seven storey building is located adjacent to the Whitmore Bridge over Regent’s Canal. It provides the four client cooperative with two floors of office space, a double height photographic studio and three triplex apartments opening onto generous roof terraces which overlook the canal.
Timber reveals give depth to the elevations, and the large windows provide north light and canal views to the studio and offices.
The building is clad in British Sweet Chestnut which has a similar golden colour to oak, and weathers to a silver colour over time. It is hard-wearing, strong and durable, and relatively light when compared to other hardwoods, making it ideal for cladding. Traditionally used to clad barns because of its robustness and versatility, chestnut is a very stable timber, resulting in less movement, distortion or splitting.
The cross laminated timber structure sits on a lower ground floor built in concrete. The cross-laminated timber structure was erected on this tight site in only five weeks by a four man team.
Waugh Thistleton Architects are dedicated to reducing the impact of their buildings on the environment and have a timber first policy in the office. Any project which is reviewed at feasibility stage, will be assessed in terms of the most suitable structural system. In most cases there are significant practical and financial benefits of using timber structures to our clients, as well as the sustainable advantages.
The arrangement was determined by the site being bounded on two sides by buildings and the other by the canal, as well as the aspiration to provide the optimum space and aspect for a number of known end-users.
The office spaces at lower ground and upper ground floors benefit from views of the canal, a canalside walkway area and large deck. The spectacular 5m high photographer’s studio sits above this as a 23m x 9m open space with no columns or downstand beams. The commercial spaces at these first four levels face north where an adjacent building sits to the south.
From fifth to seventh floors, family sized three bedroom flats benefit from spectacular 360 degree views, cross ventilation and solar gains from the south. The roof terraces provide private decked areas with a brown roof bearing wild flowers to north and south.
In 2009 Waugh Thistleton completed Stadhaus, the nine-storey residential building at Murray Grove. This was groundbreaking by being the first high density housing building to be built from pre-fabricated cross-laminated timber panels. It is the first building in the world of this height to construct not only load-bearing walls and floor slabs but also stair and lift cores entirely from timber.
The height of the Stadhaus was achievable because the network of party walls and internal walls acted as a honeycomb structure. The short spans enabled thin panels to work together to provide a strong structure.
Whitmore Road is groundbreaking in other ways. The building form illustrates the structural capabilities of pre-fabricated timber panels - maximising the multilateral strength of the material by arranging spaces to minimise lateral spans.
Designing a building constructed from load bearing timber panels creates a number of opportunities. At the centre of the building, the double height studio spans 9m and stretches to 23m of open column free space. This is achieved by the walls acting as beams and the party walls in the apartments above acting as trusses. We were also able to cantilever the timber building 1.5m over the canal.
The building was constructed using cross laminated timber panels, supplied by KLH UK. The layers of low grade spruce are glued under high pressure using non-toxic adhesive.
Each panel is prefabricated including cutouts for windows and doors. The panels arrive on site ready to be craned into position and fixed in place. Glulam beams were also used in two locations on the north facade, to help spread the transfer of loads down this elevation and minimise deflection.