Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building

World's largest CLT building starts on site in Hackney

A 121-unit residential block, that when complete will be the largest cross laminated timber (CLT) building in the world, has started on site in Dalston Lane, Hackney in London.

Designed by Waugh Thistleton Architects for property developer Regal Homes, the 16,000 sq m development includes 3,460 sq m of office space. Above a basement and ground floor of concrete, the building’s structure, designed with engineer Ramboll UK, is constructed from timber.

The 10-storey building will use 3,852 cu m of CLT, more than has been used on any other project in the world. “We believe that by volume of CLT used it will be the largest building in the world,” says Dave Lomax, project architect at Waugh Thistleton.

Lomax believes that the project demonstrates how timber can be used to construct large buildings. He is keen for CLT to be considered by other architects and contractors when building large residential projects. “Our aspiration is that in the future, building with CLT will not be seen as an odd thing to do,” he says.

The building is also set to become the tallest building in the world with a CLT structure, rising 0.5m taller than the Forté residential building in Melbourne, Australia. However, the building will not be as tall as the 14-storey glulam and CLT hybrid structure in Bergen, Norway, which started on site last year and claims to be the world’s tallest wooden apartment block. This building itself could be eclipsed if plans for a 25-storey wooden skyscraper in Vienna, unveiled earlier this week, come to fruition.

According to Andrew Waugh, partner at Waugh Thistleton, we should not be dwelling on how tall the building is, but the number of homes that are being built: “It’s not about height, it’s about how big it is,” he says. “What's important is the amount of concrete that we are not using, by building these homes with CLT.”

Ramboll has calculated that the building will save 2,400 tonnes of carbon, compared to an equivalent block built with a concrete frame. 

CLT is encouraged in Hackney, which mooted a timber first policy in 2012, and this building will join a host of timber buildings already standing in the borough, including Waugh Thistleton’s Murray Grove (the world's former tallest CLT building) and Karakusevic Carson Architects’ Bridport House.

“Hackney encourage the use of timber as they understand the importance of reducing the carbon impact of housing,” says Waugh.

There will be a lot more timber homes in Hackney in the near future, as Hawkins\Brown’s Banyan Wharf office and apartment block on Wenlock Road (also for Regal Homes) recently topped out and Waugh Thistleton itself has three more CLT blocks on site in the borough.


I am interested in this building system and would like to know more about it , if possible.

Charles C.

  • 4th Mar 2015, at 05:51 PM
  • Charles C Clarkson

I have been using shipping containers for housing. the only difference between CLT and the containers is the construction of the boxes where the steel elements are welded together solidly. when the wood panels are bracketed together is less desirable to me. I was thinking of the toothing of both panels before locking together could make it more monolithic and yet the strength is not as strong as the weld in steel. So it opens up to a lot of avenue for thinking. George Wu, AIA, NCARB 2015-4-12

  • 12th Apr 2015, at 04:16 PM
  • George Wu, AIA, NCARB

From an engineering standpoint, CLT walls can be constructed with more than enough vertical and lateral stiffness or strength. Designing in the proper ductility is a little less obvious challenge which can be met with proper application of high numbers of small diameter fasteners and properly sized steel connection members.

  • 14th Apr 2015, at 04:47 AM
  • Darryl Byle

I am very interested in the CLT system of building. Is it possible to be sent further information. I work in Gibraltar and lightweight steel frames are been used for extensions and low rise buildings when this system could be used due to Gibraltar being a coastal city

  • 5th Jan 2016, at 10:21 AM
  • Francis Massetti

In my experience as a contractor, unless you use a lot of structural steelwork the CLT frame becomes too chunky and not economical. Also, in my opinion the erection period is a lot longer than steelwork or concrete frame.

  • 5th Jan 2016, at 10:22 AM
  • Kanji Kerai

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