This Week in Wood: London’s Dalston Lane is World’s Tallest CLT Structure

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In London, a 10-story apartment building in progress has officially become the world’s tallest structure made almost entirely from CLT (cross-laminated timber) in a new achievement for tall wooden architecture. Dalston Lane is a landmark project by Waugh Thistleton Architects, weighing a fifth of a concrete building of the same size and reducing the number of deliveries during construction by 80 percent. Aiming to help meet the city’s need for high quality, high-density housing, the building is healthy and sustainable, with a low carbon footprint.

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“CLT boasts many material benefits, not least its sustainability. In total, Ramboll’s CLT experts have calculated that Dalston Lane will save 2,400 tonnes of carbon, compared to an equivalent block with a concrete frame,” says engineering firm Ramboll. “By using CLT construction, the embodied carbon is 2.5 times less than that of an equivalent concrete frame. Taking into account that timber stores carbon by absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, also known as sequestered carbon, the structure can definitively be considered as carbon negative. Its 3,852 cubic metres of CLT will entirely make up the external, party and core walls, floors and stairs.”

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“Due to its vastly reduced weight, the building is taller than was ever thought feasible on the neglected brownfield site,” the architects explain. This factor alone could encourage a broader shift toward all-wood construction in sites that reclaim former industrial areas. According to the Financial Times, the adoption of CLT might take a little while to become more widespread because few structural engineers have real experience building with it, but it’s catching on.

Dalston Lane is a block of 121 apartments located just blocks away from Europe’s previous tallest timber building, The Cube by Hawkins Brown architects, which is constructed mostly of CLT with a concrete core. Both buildings will be partially clad in brick to fit in with adjacent Victorian architecture.

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