B&K Structures - 6 Orsman Road


Project - 6 Orsman Road 

Sector - Commerical

Technology - CLT 

Company - B&K Structures 


As the UK’s leading engineered timber specialist, B&K Structures are creating ground-breaking projects with outstanding sustainability credentials. The company’s design team are leaders in the field, bringing vast technical expertise to each development – 6 Orsman Road was no exception. 

B&K Structures once again collaborated closely with timber advocates, Waugh Thistleton Architects to offer an innovative solution for the challenging six-storey commercial build. The project called for a structural solution which would maximise space and achieve a rapid construction process. The location, immediately adjacent to the canal, presented challenges but the offsite manufacture of the cross laminated timber (CLT) structure, combined with ‘just in time’ deliveries provided the solution. 

Designed by Waugh Thistleton Architects, 6 Orsman Road is a flagship commercial space which in line with the borough of Hackney’s ‘timber first’ policy, perfectly showcases the benefits of engineered timber technology. 

The project brief called for a sustainable structure which would maximise the space available and would allow for a fast-track construction programme so that the client, could maximise their return on investment by letting the space as early as possible. Not only was reducing the timeframe of the construction process vital to allow tenants to move in sooner but creating a premium office space would enable the client, Boultbee Brooks Real Estate, to attract a high calibre of tenant. 

B&K Structures’ design division engaged with Waugh Thistleton from the early stages, submitting detailed 3D drawings of the proposed structural system at the tender stage. This initial collaboration led to the drawings being progressed and incorporated into the final design. From the detailed 3D designs, a comprehensive schedule was created, including a programme of works for both the offsite and onsite elements. Working with the main contractor RFM, allowed B&K Structures to guarantee that the structure would be completed in the timeframe, with minimal disruption. 

Incorporating 6,770sq m of high grade CLT, allowed B&K Structures to construct a quality building more quickly. The material’s thermal and acoustic insulation properties also deliver huge health benefits.

The south-facing elevation is stepped to preserve long views down Orsman Road, with deep-set, ribbon-like windows to minimise solar gain. Its north-facing facade, a lightweight curtain wall system with opening windows, creates an animated canal frontage, allowing for ventilation ducts and Juliette balconies. The stepped back upper floors create large terraces overlooking the canal and the city to the south. The expansive floor-to-ceiling heights generates an airy contemporary atmosphere, creating impact which is enhanced by the panoramic views to the canal beyond. Inside the exposed timber floor slabs bring a contemporary industrial aesthetic. 

The architect recognised from the outset that an offsite approach using sustainable engineered timber technology would achieve the speed, quality, performance, and environmental objectives laid out in the brief, as well as delivering a unique and visually outstanding office space. Operating to ISO 14001, B&K Structures is firmly established in the construction industry as a sustainable structural frame provider, constantly looking to improve environmental performance. 

The benefits of using CLT are clear – quick, clean, and straightforward. Buildings can be achieved with a measured accuracy and lack of noise, waste, or need for onsite material storage space. CLT has notable benefits in terms of warmth, acoustics, and structural efficiency. CLT also offers high strength-to-weight ratios that in many cases equal those of reinforced concrete. The use of sustainably sourced CLT and advanced offsite manufacturing methods reduces the weight of the superstructure, which decreases foundation requirements – resulting in an overall reduction in the volume of concrete used for the foundations, reducing the impact on the environment. 

B&K Structures not only completed the installation of the structural elements of the building in just 13 weeks but worked within the constraints of the site itself to keep disruption to a minimum. Each floor of the six-storey office block took around 10-14 days to erect with the central tower crane handling around 15 lifts. The entire structure has been constructed using a maximum of six erectors, with no reportable accidents throughout the installation period. This offsite approach improves onsite health and safety as the majority of work is carried out in well-managed factory conditions under OHSAS 18001 – a British Standard for occupational health and safety management. It would not have been possible to achieve the construction of this project within the challenging site and timeframe using traditional construction methods. 

The exposed CLT elements achieve the desired striking aesthetic effect, with high ceilings and large windows that flood the office spaces with light, creating a pleasant working environment. The slim columns and the extensive unsupported spans, attained through the use of CLT in combination with slender long-span cellular steel beams, create large open spaces. 

The building has been designed to deliver the ultimate adaptability with each floor plate having the ability of being subdivided to create a variety of different sized fully self-contained workspaces. The building features a combination of private and communal external spaces in the form of terraces and balconies.

The letting agents used the environmental credentials of 6 Orsman Road to attract tenants stating:  “CLT is an innovative, environmentally sustainable material which significantly reduces level of pollution storing tonnes of CO2 in the material, effectively making the building carbon neutral.  Low carbon and replenishable timber is the key to solving not only pollution from construction but helps combat climate change.”


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