Webb Yates Engineering - Wimbledon College of Arts Studio

Project Details


Project - Wimbledon College of Arts Studio
Sector - Education
Company - Webb Yates Engineering
Technology - Timber Frame, CLT, Concrete

Project Overview

Central to our philosophy is a passion for the collaborative process, and the desire to approach unusual problems and solve them in a creative way. Our work with timber on several prominent projects is a vindication of this approach.

Wimbledon College of Arts studio, rated BREEAM Outstanding, is a simple and flexible, yet striking space with an exposed timber and concrete frame. The client's vision was that this should be an exemplar building for the University's portfolio. To achieve this, we worked closely with the architect to create a solution that takes advantage of the low carbon qualities of timber and combines them with the high thermal mass of concrete. The result is a holistic engineering solution that provides a thermal mass unusual for a timber structure, enabling the building to be naturally ventilated. The prefabricated timber frame minimised the overall weight of the building and a simple installation reduced time on site. The structure was left exposed internally to create an interior that expresses both materials, and allows for future adaptability.

Building on our experience from Wimbledon College of Arts studio, we continued developing methods of construction using Timber Concrete Composites, which exploit the benefits of both timber and concrete frames. We have recently engaged with Bristol University to explore the expansion of a pilot research scheme funded by IStructE. Future developments include a series of full scale load tests using the TCC system and the development of a composite floor deck that pairs CLT with concrete.

Barrett's Grove, a residential scheme set on the boundary of a Hackney conservation area, accommodates five flats and a studio. On this scheme we used timber in a way that expresses a warm and tactile aesthetic. Cross-laminated timber is used for all floor, wall and roof superstructure and left exposed internally, removing the need for plaster boarded walls, suspended ceilings, skirtings and finishes. The simplicity of the design, allowing the material to provide a warm interior finish suitable for a home, contributed to a 15% reduction in the embodied carbon of the building, as well as a reduction in cost, risk and time on site. This approach – low cost, quick to construct and low energy – is of particular relevance to London where the ability to efficiently and economically construct high-quality housing is a pressing need.

The use of timber on Barrett's Grove and Wimbledon College of Arts studio has significantly contributed to the success of the projects - Wimbledon College of Arts studio is an exemplar of sustainable design; and Barrett's Grove is an example of a high-quality, low cost and quick to construct residence for London's housing market.

To date the hours taken offsite on this project are substantial, currently standing at a total over 12,500.