Barrett's Grove

A modern six-storey apartment building, Barrett’s Grove is joining Edwardian buildings and Victorian terraces in a conservation area in north London. A bespoke brickwork pattern and wicker balconies give this gabled timber block its distinct design. It was shortlisted for the 2017 RIBA Stirling Prize.

About this project

Winner of the Hackney Design Awards 2016, the building has been appraised for its considerate use of materials in design and construction. Its slender, vertical look contrasts the lower terraces whilst its traditional brick façade establishes a connection with the surrounding area. The spacious willow cane balconies create a natural link between inside and out, and their positioning promotes social interaction between the apartments.

Use of Timber

The main structure of the building is made of cross-laminated timber (CLT) sheets and panels and is built on a sunken cast concrete box. The panels, which span up to 6 metres, have precise cut-outs for stairs and various technical installations. The roof is also made from CLT sheets that are carefully balanced against each other, so that the top mezzanine level can have glazing along the ridge.

The exterior brickwork façade is detached from the rest of the building and allows the timber structure to move freely, expanding and shrinking as the seasons and the weather change. A layer of insulation lined with a breather membrane covers the wooden frame, protecting it from any moisture and damp that might penetrate the perforated brickwork.

Whilst the building boasts a unique brick pattern named ‘Half Flemish Bond’ on the outside, internally, wood is given a prominent role with the timber structure entirely exposed as part of the interior design.

The stairwell is made from CLT, with some of the wall components measuring a substantial 11 x 2.4 metres. The stairs themselves make use of a three-layer spruce panel. Maple was chosen as the top wear layer for the building on Barret’s Grove, since it is such a hard and durable wood. Wooden panels were also used for the kitchen fittings, which were built on site, and the wardrobes and interior doors in the apartments.

Environmental credentials

Walls and roof went up in ten days cutting construction times short and saving 15% carbon emissions compared to a concrete solution. High acoustic performance was achieved by using extra insulation, acoustic panels and a floating wooden floor between apartments.

Read elsewhere: Dezeen Wood magazine 

Watch video: RIBA Stirling Prize

Images: Amin Taha Architects

Key contacts


Amin Taha Architects 


Cobstar Developments

Main contractor

Ecore Construction 

Structural engineer

Webb Yates

Acoustic engineering


Fire engineering


Timber supplier

Egoin; Dold 

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