London studio dRMM has completed WorkStack for Greenwhich Enterprise Board and backed by the Greater London Authority. The building is defined by its stack of heavy industrial units constructed from cross-laminated timber. dRMM said the building challenges the concept of traditional “ugly, cold metal sheds.”

It was intended as a model for high-density, affordable industrial space built on compact areas. The choice of cross-laminated timber as a building material and leaving it exposed throughout minimized construction time and material waste. It also eliminated the need for additional finishes.

Meanwhile, corrugated-metal clads the building’s facade, with WorkStack emblazoned vertically down on one side. The studio called WorkStack as an “engineered mass timber structure with limited steel, polycarbonate, glass and rubber introduced only where function or regulation demanded.”

The building features a stepped form that’s designed to accommodate 14 units with its top-heavy design doubling as cover for a central loading bay. Each unit serves as a workspace for approximately 60 people and it faces out towards the car park through full-height windows and panels of translucent polycarbonate. 

Its current occupants, including a motorcycle shop, knitwear producers, and furniture makers, have access to the building via lifts and a staircase located at the rear alongside a plant room. dRMM said the structure “equates to a density of roughly 428 employees per hectare, compared to the London industrial average of 69 employees per hectare.”

dRMM co-founder Alex de Rijke told Dezeen that WorkStack was “deliberately designed as a model to address the problem of makers being pushed out of urban centers because of residential development.” Likewise, it gives a “a powerful message that light industrial can mean socially and environmentally inspirational.”

He said: “Freshly cut timber, when stacked outside in order to ventilate and dry it, often includes an overhang to keep the water off…WorkStack’s cantilevered form is derived not only from this but also the need to provide high density on a small site. By stepping out progressively we could provide the client with the mix of workshop sizes they needed, integral solar shading and a covered delivery bay.”

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Images courtesy of dRMM Studio