Greenwich Design District (C2, C3 & D2) - B&K Structures, Engenuiti & Whitby Wood
Project - Greenwich Design District (C2, C3 & D2)
Sector - Commercial
Technology - Timber Frame
Company - B&K Structures, Engenuiti & Whitby Wood
The newly created pedestrian quarter features 16 Architect-designed
buildings, designed to establish a permanent home for creative
industries. Mole's two unique, highly sustainable buildings are
constructed entirely from timber, conveying the atmosphere of an old
warehouse. Inspired by a photo of two scientists in lab coats holding
instruments, the two buildings play off against each other and utilise
the benefits of offsite construction to deliver a sustainable addition
to the new district.
Greenwich Design District is a collection of 16 buildings, designed
by 8 architects, which offers accessible, low-cost workspaces for
London's engaged community of designers, makers and creators. Imagined
as non-identical pairs, each architect worked independently to encourage
a diverse range of buildings on the tightly packed site.
The brief was short and open: the buildings much be low cost, no
more than four storeys high (to preserve views of the nearby O2 Arena)
and include a variety of creative spaces such as workshops, studios and
desks. Blocks are close together – sometimes as little as three metres
apart – and the result is an architectural mish-mash of styles, shapes
and materials. C2 (Ziggurat) & D2 (Rhomboid), designed by Mole
Architects, epitomise this unconventional vision of the District and
utilise the benefits of offsite manufacture through engineered timber.
The two unique, highly sustainable buildings are constructed entirely
from timber, with Mole drawing on the expertise of frequent
collaborators B&K Structures (Specialist Timber Subcontractor) and
Engenuiti (Structural Engineers) to deliver the scheme.
The buildings were inspired by a 1950s photograph of two
scientists working on fuel research on the buildings' site, dressed in
lab coats (his dark, hers white) and holding up instruments. Informed by
this narrative, the two buildings 'play off against each other'; C2 is
clad in rusty metal reminiscent of an old gasholder, and D2 has a
dichroic skin which changes colour with the direction of the light,
evoking the blue-orange shimmer of a gas flame. Internally, the two
timber buildings share the same qualities, though externally they are
distinctly different. The three storey 784m² Ziggurat (C2) provides six
workspaces of varying sizes and is designed around a hybrid glulam
timber frame with structural cross-laminated timber (CLT) floors, stairs
and lift shaft, with structural insulated panel (SIP) walls and solid
timber floor slabs, which are exposed on the soffit. The 580m² Rhomboid
(D2) is a compact and angular dichroic structure with five workspaces
over three floors, characterised by a butterfly roof.
It has achieved a BREEAM Excellent rating and was constructed
entirely with CLT off concrete upstands; the CLT floors are supported by
a central timber glulam beam running diagonally across the plan,
supported on two timber glulam columns, and the 'butterfly' roof is
constructed from plywood on timber joists, supported on the central
diagonal timber glulam beam, rising up to corner triangular rooflights.
The result is two timber workspaces with exposed beams and wooden
ceilings, imbuing the spaces with warmth and character and conveying the
atmosphere of an old warehouse.