Architects today often specify cross-laminated timber — otherwise known as CLT — as the structural material for new buildings. One of the largest CLT buildings in the world is a 20-story hotel in the Swedish city of Skellefteå, on the shores of the Baltic Sea.
If you are not familiar with CLT technology, here’s a quick introduction from Wikipedia. “Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a wood panel product made from gluing together layers of solid-sawn lumber, i.e., lumber cut from a single log. Each layer of boards is usually oriented perpendicular to adjacent layers and glued on the wide faces of each board, usually in a symmetric way so that the outer layers have the same orientation. An odd number of layers is most common, but there are configurations with even numbers as well, which are then arranged to give a symmetric configuration.
“Regular timber is an anisotropic material, meaning that the physical properties change depending on the direction at which the force is applied. By gluing layers of wood at right angles, the panel is able to achieve better structural rigidity in both directions. It is similar to plywood but with distinctively thicker laminations.”
CLT building materials retain the carbon embedded in the trees they are made from, which avoids the substantial carbon emissions associated with using concrete or steel. They are as strong as steel and are also fireproof. That may seem counterintuitive to some, but we are not talking about 2X4 studs here. These are massive structural items that may char on the outside, but are no more likely to burn than a steel girder.
Foster + Partners is one of the world’s preeminent architectural firms. It is directing the redevelopment of Queensway in Bayswater, London. As part of that overall plan, it has designed a 6-story mixed use CLT building called The William in honor of William Whiteley, the founder of the nearby Whiteleys department store located on the opposite side of the road. Planning approval for The William has recently been granted.
Patrick Campbell, senior partner at Foster + Partners, says, “Working closely with Westminster City Council and local residents, we have designed a mixed-use development that sets the standard for the next generation of low carbon, healthy office buildings. The William provides natural ventilation, great daylight, flexible floorplates and green terraces — all within a high performance façade and a hybrid timber structure. We are now looking forward to bringing our designs to life.”
The William will be Foster + Partners’ first timber office building in London. It is expected to receive a BREEAM Outstanding rating and will be operationally net-zero carbon once completed.
With six floors of office space alongside shops and 32 new homes, 11 of which will be affordable, The William is an integral part of the revitalization of Bayswater, which will offer a further 139 world class apartments, 19 new shops and restaurants, as well as London’s flagship Six Senses Hotel and Spa.
The William’s modern design has sustainability and wellness at its heart. The building features a series of connected, light-filled spaces that provide a calm and inspiring working environment. A dramatic and welcoming double height lobby features organic materials, biophilic design and art installations. Biodiverse terraces and rooftop spaces offer spectacular views across Hyde Park, while ground floor retail units will mirror The Whiteley on the opposite side of the road.
The William will replace an existing post-war building and contain 90,000 square feet of office space (8,361 square meters) as well as 21,000 square feet (1,950 square meters) of shops, according to Dezeen.
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