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The Black & White Building, Shoreditch

Words:
Regional Awards Jury

Ground-breaking in ambition and innovation, Waugh Thistleton's engineered timber office space with a louvered facade is what happens when client and architect share an infectious passion for all things wood. 2024 RIBA London Client of the Year goes to The Office Group

The Black & White Building.
The Black & White Building. Credit: The Office Group

2024 RIBA London Award
2024 RIBA London Client of the Year The Office Group

The Black & White Building, Shoreditch
Waugh Thistleton Architects for The Office Group
Contract value: Confidential
GIA: 4480m2

The Black & White Building is the tallest engineered timber office building in central London. It stands elegantly in its Shoreditch setting, with a louvred facade offering tantalising glimpses to the world within. Its apparent simplicity belies its ground-breaking ambition and innovation. The architects’ premise for the project was that genuinely sustainable architecture can be born out of restraint. Timber is the key component. By combining ancient construction methods with digital technology, every element was designed to be as efficient as possible. Inside, the tones and textures of the materials captivate the senses. There had been a previous planning consent for a traditionally constructed building on this site. It seems that this was abandoned once the client had met the architect at a construction event. With an infectious passion for all things timber, client and architect immediately gelled and together developed the brief and ambition for this building.

  • The Black & White Building.
    The Black & White Building. Credit: Ed Reeve
  • The Black & White Building.
    The Black & White Building. Credit: Jake Curtis
  • The Black & White Building.
    The Black & White Building. Credit: The Office Group
  • The Black & White Building.
    The Black & White Building. Credit: The Office Group
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Laminated veneered lumber and cross laminated timber form the structure, enabling open workspaces with few internal walls. The elements are bolted together, allowing reuse through disassembly of the component parts. The timber structure is framed by glazed curtain walling, which has an external skin of horizontal and vertical louvres providing solar shading. These alter in size as they rise up the building, their position and depth having been determined by simulating the sun’s movement (and potential overheating) across the facade.

An exemplar of low embodied and operational carbon, the building has delivered the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge metrics for embodied carbon. By using a sustainably sourced engineered timber structure and omitting concrete (except for below ground), it has achieved over 50 per cent reduction in upfront carbon compared with equivalent structures built using concrete and steel. Solar panels provide 20 per cent of the building’s power. 

  • The Black & White Building.
    The Black & White Building. Credit: The Office Group
  • The Black & White Building.
    The Black & White Building. Credit: The Office Group
  • The Black & White Building.
    The Black & White Building. Credit: The Office Group
  • The Black & White Building.
    The Black & White Building. Credit: The Office Group
  • The Black & White Building.
    The Black & White Building. Credit: Ed Reeve
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Inside, there is an overriding sense of health and wellbeing. It all feels good. It even smells good. The open work areas are interspersed with sociable break out spaces with furniture produced by students in collaboration with an artists’ collective. The shared roof terrace is planted with wildflowers. Tones and textures are muted, celebrating the inherent qualities of the natural materials used.

The entire project is a laudable celebration of timber, craftsmanship, collaboration and sustainability in its broadest sense. Few buildings wear their sustainability this confidently, making it an example to follow.

See the rest of the RIBA London winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here.

To see the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com.

RIBA Regional Awards 2024 sponsored by EH Smith and Autodesk

Credits

Contractor Parkeray

Structural engineer Eckersley O’Callaghan, Engenuiti

Environmental/M&E engineer Environmental Engineering Partnership

Quantity surveyor/cost consultant Gardiner & Theobald

Project management Opera

Interior design Daytrip

 

Credit: Waugh Thistleton Architects
Credit: Waugh Thistleton Architects
Credit: Waugh Thistleton Architects
Credit: Waugh Thistleton Architects
Credit: Waugh Thistleton Architects
Credit: Waugh Thistleton Architects

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