Two CLT buildings for London’s Trafalgar Place, a first for Lendlease in UK

Trafalgar Place in London’s Elephant & Castle. Photo: Alex de Rijke

Trafalgar Place is the flagship housing project delivered as part of Lendlease’s regeneration of Elephant and Castle in London. Comprising 235 high-quality homes, the project transforms the built environment whilst referencing the historic fabric of the neighbourhood. As London densifies and seeks to cope with its chronic housing shortage and improve inner-city living, residents’ quality of life and an awareness of the effects of the built environment was paramount in the planning of this project.

Trafalgar Place was developed through extensive public consultation with local residents. The result is a variety of mini-towers, apartment buildings and townhouses. Each apartment has been designed from the inside out to maximise natural daylight, ventilation and internal usable space. All homes have either a garden, balcony or roof terrace.

A commitment to environmental awareness and responsible building is demonstrated by two buildings made from cross-laminated timber (CLT), a first for Lendlease in the United Kingdom. Building in timber within the UK always brings challenges, such as managing fire risks and ensuring that onerous acoustic separation requirements are met. Trafalgar Place was thus a test bed for the use of solid timber construction methods in a mass residential setting for the multi-national developer. Here, the extent of CLT was a product of risk management and procurement processes rather than structural or construction suitability.

Construction of the two CLT buildings took only six weeks. Photo: dRMM Architect

“We are incredibly proud of pioneering the use of Cross Laminated Timber on the Elephant and Castle regeneration with Lendlease.  Our work on Trafalgar Place proves that CLT offers substantial advantages compared to conventional construction methodologies, including the speed and ease of erection, cleanliness of site and ease of installation for follow on trades,” said Steven Wallis, project associate, dRMM Architects.

Across the project, Trafalgar Place provides over 1800m2 of apartment floor area in the carbon sequestering engineered timber structures of these two buildings, greatly reducing the carbon impact of constructing these homes.

The timber, Spruce sourced from FSC-certified forests in Austria, provides a natural, healthy, non-allergenic environment for residents to inhabit, while the delivery of the project highlighted the advantages of working with engineered timber as opposed to traditional reinforced concrete. The CLT is fabricated by Stora Enso and supplied to the UK by Eurban. The superstructure was erected in just six weeks (May/July 2015) and provided a clean site for the rapid progress of follow-on trades to work off. 

Mr Wallis added, “Externally, the façade treatment and fenestration of the CLT buildings mirror that of the adjacent reinforced concrete framed building, proving that with some structural innovation, CLT does not constrain design and offers so much in return.”

Trafalgar Place won the 2016 RIBA National Award.