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Stadhaus – Murray Grove Tower

Just north of the centre of London is the world’s tallest modern-timber residential building. It stands at nine storeys, the top eight being constructed from cross laminated solid timber.

Stadthaus is a result of a forward thinking architect, Andrew Waugh, from Waugh Thistleton Architects. This 9-storey, 29-apartment building has set a new benchmark for timber construction

Constructed from cross-laminated timber panels from the first floor upwards, Stadthaus is the tallest modern timber structure in the world. The nine-storey building is the first of this height to construct load bearing walls and floor slabs as well as stair and lift cores entirely from timber. Each panel is made up of 5 layers of timber crossing each other, making a panel that could be compared to precast concrete. In fact the concept in Australia is referred to as “tilt up timber” or “pre-cast timber panels”. One architect visiting the site explained the concept of the timber panels as “like concrete but better”. Doors and window openings are pre-cut into the panels during manufacturing and the panels arrive at site in lengths up to 9.0 m. Assembled using chordless drills, there were only 5 people on site, they worked only 3 days per week and each week another floor was added. The building was completed within 49 weeks.

Plumbers and electricians installing the pipe supports and cable trays suspended under the floor no longer had to worry about concrete dust or the time it took to install a fixing. The panels also had passage ways within the panels to feed cables and services through. Other cost savings were achieved as there was no need to build a basement to house the plant for the renewable energy component, saving time and holding costs. Mr Waugh said that the “overall cost was much the same as for a steel or concrete building. The client recognised the overall cost of the project not individual elements”

Karl Heinz Weiss from KLH UK, supplier of the cross laminated timber believes that 15 storeys could be the upper bounds limit of this type of construction.

Why timber? City of London planning requirement require a 10 per cent reduction in carbon through on-site renewable energy generation. This building is a result of the practice’s research in reducing the carbon emissions not only of the finished building but of the whole build process. Waugh Thistleton Architects estimate the wooden structure of the building will store over 186 tonnes of carbon for its lifetime. Moreover, by not using more traditional concrete building techniques, a further 125 tonnes of carbon is saved from entering the atmosphere. They anticipated carbon emissions saved from a building of this size to be the equivalent to 21 years of use.

Finally as a testament to the acceptance of the building, Mr Waugh said that all of the building apartments were sold in 90 minutes.