Designed around the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle, 6 Orsman Road is a flexible workspace set over six storeys located in the creative district of Haggerston, East London, UK.

The building was designed and constructed with environmental, energy, sustainability and carbon emission considerations in mind and is both constructed and finished with low impact materials.

A demountable hybrid structure

The building’s structure is an innovative hybrid of cross laminated timber (CLT) and steel which is bolted together to deliver the maximum internal area.

Individual components are designed to be demounted, repurposed or recycled at the end of the building’s useful life and applied elements such as SIP panels, cladding, timber decking and steel balustrades can all be easily disassembled.

Flexible and adaptable

6 Orsman Road has been designed to adapt and evolve as required. The use of a prefabricated CLT-steel frame creates large column-free spaces that enable flexible configuration of internal layouts to suit changing tenant needs.

A demountable partition system has been used throughout, meaning that office space can be reconfigured overnight as needs change.

Use of timber

The building’s core and floor slabs are made of pre-cut CLT panels. Meanwhile, offcuts of CLT were repurposed to create furniture that has been used throughout the building. The use of secondary materials has been minimised, with services, connections and the CLT structure left exposed throughout. Where finishes were required, natural materials such as clay plaster and linoleum tiles have been used.

Specialist acousticians have enhanced the sound absorption qualities of the timber, improving comfort to ensure that productivity isn’t affected by bustle and noise.

A focus on occupant wellbeing

Every element of 6 Orsman Road, from the exposed timber to the waterside setting, has been designed to enhance occupant wellbeing, and to increase nature and biodiversity at this urban site.

Building on the principles of biophilic design; natural materials, daylight and air-purifying plants create an environment that works with nature to actively boost productivity and create a sense of calm.

The building is stepped over six storeys which creates terraces with views of the canal to the north and the city to the south. The terraces feature a wildflower roof, insect boxes, edible plants and fruit trees to enhance biodiversity and improve tenants’ connection to nature.

Storage for 68 bicycles is located in a prominent location at the entrance to the building, helping to reinforce the message of choosing cycling as a means of transport.

Meanwhile, local social enterprise the Shoreditch Trust will run the café on the ground floor which will serve a range of local and ethically sourced healthy food.

Reducing embodied carbon

Achieving embodied carbon of 582 KgCO2eq/m2 means that the building exceeds all current targets and is close to the RIBA Climate Challenge target set for 2030. This has been attained through the careful and conscious selection of all materials used throughout the building.

Choosing pre-cut CLT panels for the core and floor slabs resulted in a significant reduction in embodied carbon compared to a concrete build of the same design, which would have had embodied carbon of 3,812 kgCO2eq/m2.

Front facade .Image credit: Ed Reeve. Reprinted courtesy of Wood for Good.  

Front facade. Image credit: Ed Reeve. Reprinted courtesy of Wood for Good.


Reducing operational carbon

Around 15% of the building’s operational energy will be generated onsite through PVs and an air source heat pump.

The precision manufacture of structural elements contributes to enhanced thermal and airtightness performance, which in turn reduces operational energy requirements.

Passive heating and cooling

In order to benefit from the north-south site, a fully glazed curtain walling system maximises internal daylight and views out to the canal to the north, while on the south façade deep-set, ribbon windows minimise solar gain.

Full height windows and doors on both façades can be opened to allow for natural through ventilation.

It is expected that the building can operate comfortably using natural ventilation for cooling. However, for future-proofing purposes, a mechanical cooling system is also provided by a VRV system, comprising of exposed chassis type fan coil units connected to linear slot grilles for air distribution. Reclaimed fresh air ventilation is provided to each office by local MVHR units.

Reducing waste

The use of a hybrid CLT-steel structure required only 25 deliveries to site, with a total number of deliveries required for all materials of 196. An equivalent concrete frame would have required 463 deliveries.

The offsite precision manufacture of the structural elements reduced both time spent on site and the associated waste from construction.

Extensive waste sorting facilities are located at the ground floor, allowing for maximum reuse and recycling through a variety of schemes. The organic waste from the roof terrace planters will be collected and composted and the client’s ambition is to become zero to landfill.

Additional sustainability information

BREEAM Excellent

Embodied carbon A1-A5 582 kg CO2eq/m2

Sequestered CO2 500 tonnes CO2eq

On-site renewable energy generation 14.3%

Annual mains water consumption 5.47 m3/occupant/yr

Airtightness at 50pa 6.1 m3/h.m2

Heating and hot water load 4.4 kwh/m2/yr

Overall area-weighted u-value 0.19 w/m2k

Annual CO2 emissions 14.6 KgCO2eq/m2