If you look at the bigger picture, CLT is actually

cost-neutral Cormac Farrelly

homes in the UK to date have been very conventional in terms of design, layout and construction. On this project, thanks to the less complex floor zones with CLT, we will have higher ceilings whereas with steel we would have had much more complicated services distribution meaning lower floor to ceiling heights.”

Challenges EXTENSION

The gables themselves are extended 2 metres, offering shading

extra £90,000 on constructing foundations and party walls. He adds: “CLT on the other hand could go top to bottom without any other trades, apart from forming the reinforced concrete slab under the ground floor.” This was the deciding factor for the client, who was determined to find the most efficient solution to delivering its tight programme. CLT is also a sustainable material, and would achieve a saving on the transfer structures required and the substructure due to being lighter than traditional construc- tion methods. Moreover, due to its robust nature, most party walls can be installed as part of the main frame.


Architect: AHMM Structural engineer: Symmetrys Developer: PegasusLife Main contractor: Midas Services engineers: WSP Project managers: AECOM Quantity Surveyors: PMP Timber supplier: KLH

Despite this Halaria acknowledges the “strong credentials” of precast, with its efficient factory-constructed, slotted-in units, and admits that there is still some steelwork in the design, such as within the balcony construction. However, The Fitzroy’s frame is completely CLT from the ground floor to the roof, including the staircases. Farrelly says that using CLT has enabled the architects to “really optimise the apartments in terms of stacking, and also the width of party walls.” He says that a key goal was to “drive as much repetition in the apartments as possible” for efficiency, to enable living rooms and bedrooms to be stacked (in addition to bathrooms and kitchens), and ease transfer of services.

In terms of the design benefits for this project for users, he says: “Most retirement


Farrelly and Halaria agree that one of the challenges of CLT, despite its efficiencies, is that in terms of services it makes it essential to finalise distribution layouts through walls early, as modifications later on are tricky. Halaria explains: “We are talking about large service holes here – where are the main distribution runs going to go?” The main learning issue, he says, is coordination of M&E with the design of the frame, so that the designers understand where all the ducts need to go – “it has to be fully coordinated in advance. With a concrete frame you have a slab, service risers and then take your ducts wherever you want them.”

Cormac Farrelly admits that there were mixed feelings within the project team when CLT was initially mooted, with some having had “bad experiences in terms of cost, and some people just being nervous of new technologies.” However, the overall drive to prove the case for the material from client, architect and engineers won through: “We worked really hard to bring it in,” he says.

Having worked with PegasusLife previ-

ously, he is confident that if the efficiencies and cost work out as planned on this Falmouth scheme, more CLT projects will follow.

Halaria concludes: “It has been a sharp learning curve for everyone, and it was interesting to know what the CLT supplier couldn’t do. It’s been an interesting learning experience working out what we are responsible for as engineers, and what they are; each supplier works very differently.” He admits that most contractors in the UK are risk-averse, and won’t volunteer to build in CLT: “It’s a matter of trying to change people’s thought patterns and get them to understand the benefits it could bring to their process. It’s still something new, and the first time it might be difficult, but the second time you learn from that and the third time you perfect it.” With the design team acting as collaborative partners to an open-minded client in the case, its choice of material was also an informed one. 


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