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Slender Apartment Block By Amin Taha Architects Has Timber Structure

Wicker balconies project from the brick facade of this apartment block in north London, which was designed by Amin Taha Architects with a cross-laminated timber structure.

The six-storey gabled block was designed by London-based Amin Taha Architects to slot between a pair of detached brick buildings in Barretts Grove, Stoke Newington, hosting six apartments.

A slender rectilinear volume is affixed to the rear of the street-facing gabled block. Together they house three two-bedroom flats, two three-bedroom flats set over two floors and a studio apartment.

The architects chose to present the building a structure of cross-laminated timber (CLT) – a type of engineered wood consisting layers of laminated timber sections, which offers a more sustainable alternative to concrete and steel.

But dimmer one touch this framework is enveloped by a facade of perforated brickwork to match neighbouring buildings.

“If the general building form is intended to assist complete the parade, it and its detailing can be architectonically driven by a choice of superstructure suited to residential use then developed to a smaller domestic and tactile scale,” said the architects.

Related story
Hawkins\Brown pairs cross-laminated timber and steel for record-breaking apartment block

“The double-stacked and open-bond of brickwork states the envelope is just not load bearing, but a screen enveloping the entire building including the roof,” they added.

The road-facing facade is punctured by large windows with deep bronzed frames.
Wicker-covered balconies project from every other window to supply residents with private outdoor space.

Inside, elements of both the CLT and brick structures are left exposed. The CLT panels are varnished and joined by timber seats, shelving units, doors and stairs.

“The ability of the CLT to function structure and finish removed the necessity for plaster-boarded walls, suspended ceilings, cornices, skirtings, tiling and paint; reducing by 15 per cent the embodied carbon of the building, its construction cost and time on site,” explained the architects.

“Timber also has inherently more robust and is probably a greater and warmer domestic aesthetic,” they added.

New sorts of engineered timber – including CLT – are considerably stronger than their regular wood counterparts and are allowing architects to construct bigger and higher than ever.

In 2015, Hawkins\Brown completed a 33-metre-high apartment block in east London, which the studio claims is tallest structural cross-laminated timber building in Europe.

Other firms at the moment are vying for the title, and earlier this summer Waugh Thistleton topped out the world’s largest cross-laminated timber structure – also in east London.

Elsewhere, building regulations are being updated to permit wooden buildings of recent heights. In January 2016, Australia updated its building regulations to permit timber-framed structures of as much as eight storeys in height for the primary time.

Photography is by Tim Soar.
Project credits:

Architect: Groupwork, Dale Elliott, Sam Douek, Nerissa Yeung, Amin Taha
Client: Cobstar Developments
Structural engineer: Webb Yates
M&E consultant: Syntegra
Fire engineering: Optimise
Acoustic engineering: Syntegra
Project manager: Groupwork
CDM coordinator: Syntegra
Building inspector: MLM
Main contractor: Ecore Construction

Amin Taha Architects
Cross-laminated timber

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Visit our comments page | Read our comments policy
– michael O’Farrell
Fantastic use of space with CLT.

– H-J
Those wicker balconies are amazing, I hope to sooner or later steal that idea.
– Owens
I would really wish to see a bigger detail of that brick roof.

– jessica mairs
Hi there, here it’s:

– John Delaney
That concealed gutter detail is awesome.
– Owens

– Hristo Hristov
For what’s the 50mm void 🙂 And what’s the minimum tilt that I can use for that kind of roof

I think this project has some lovely design ideas and details. Does the CLT allow for service runs Or are all of them surface mounted I can not see any switches, sockets etc on the photos.

– jessica mairs
Hi James, I got in contact with the architects to seek out out. Here is their response and a few images – hope this helps:

CLT walls and ceilings are left exposed with no surface mounted conduits or penetrations through the CLT partition floors. Electrical and IT services are mostly contained under the timber floor finish with hot and cold water supply and underfloor heating set within the insulation and above the acoustic boards.

Floor sockets for TV, IT and 5mm circuit lighting are located in living rooms and bedrooms with general lighting hidden behind kitchen cabinet and bedroom wardrobe pelmets washing ceilings and walls. Light switches and a few wall sockets are located on room partitions or vertical riser lining, also built of spruce but in thinner tri-ply panels supplied by DOLD.

Bathroom lighting is operated by PIR’s with vanity mirrors controlled by the integrated cabinetry push catches.

I really like this building.
Rare to see a complete block of flats lined in plywood. The skateboarder in me loves it.

Damn, that’s brilliant.
Wicker basket balconies They look great, but am I the one one which could be illogically terrified standing up there – even with the architectural knowledge that it is safe

What are the “wicker” balconies manufactured from I’ve had wicker chairs before, and they do not last greater than 5 years in the sun. I assume this wicker is treated somehow, or created from a polymer of some kind

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