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Black & White Building

The Future Is Wood

Waugh Thistleton Architects

Black & White Building
By Elisa Grossi -

Designed by Waugh Thistleton Architects in London’s East End, the Black & White Building embodies the future of workplaces, defining a new template for urban development through innovative building technologies, environmentally friendly materials, recreational areas, and dedicated spaces for socializing.

Located in the Shoreditch district, at 17.8-m high it is Central London’s tallest engineered timber office building, a record achieved by the firm led by Andrew Waugh and Anthony Thistleton, whose research and design work revolves around the pioneering use of sustainable materials like wood.

The firm’s decision to use timber for the new Black & White Building was both a statement of continuity and a break from the site’s past: previously, it was used for furniture sector manufacturing, among urban surroundings in which brick predominates.

Designed according to the principles of biophilia, the project’s underlying idea was to create a pleasant place to spend the working day, a sustainable and efficient office building offering maximum performance with minimum consumption of resources. From the start, the designers worked together with the client, The Office Group, to achieve these goals. Indeed, so focused has the firm been on reducing the environmental impact of building operations that, prior to this, it only carried out retrofit operations of existing buildings. In this case, however, the monochromatic building that occupied the lot on which the design was built – hence the name “Black & White” – was too dated and small in size to expand, hence the decision to proceed with demolition and reconstruction.

Because from the envelope inwards every component and layer has a specific function, the new volume is shorn of decorative elements. A total of 1,330 m3 of timber was used in the design, comprising four types of engineered wood: the sunshade...

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