Heron Court

A mixed residential scheme in a regeneration area built on a flood-plane featuring modified wood cladding.

About this project

Heron Court is a mixed residential project comprising 12 rental flats and duplexes in a three-storey block on the west side of the site with a linked four-storey block sitting at an angle to its east and which contains six ‘Rent to Buy’ homes. The whole development faces onto a communal garden to the west and a canal to the east.

Thamesmead, an area developed in the1960s to rehouse families from inner south London is built on flood-prone marshland on the south side of the Thames. Due to the long-established risk of flood, the ground floors of the buildings have been constructed with concrete frames and brick skins, whilst the wall structures above are formed from lightweight steel frames with vertically-fixed Thermowood cladding. A modified wood product, Thermowood is produced by heat treating Finnish grown pine and spruce to temperatures in excess of 200 degrees centigrade. During the heat treatment, chemical and structural changes occur within the timber which improve its durability and strength.

The material is applied as flat, uninterrupted planes to the gable ends of each block, in contrast to the long elevations, where a regular series of timber fins project from the facades to support the balconies and walkways.

At second floor level, the flats are accessed via wide walkways that function as open loggias inset behind steel and timber screens. This level can effectively be read as the attic storey of a classically-ordered, tripartite elevation, but it is the extensive use of a durable, dark-brown timber product - Thermowood - in this moisture-rich environment that defines the scheme and provides it with the quality and longevity necessary to transcend the unfortunate reputation of the area’s planning.

High performance timber windows were installed throughout the project offering double glazing and a U value of 1.4W/m2K. 

Solar photovoltaics were installed on the roof, providing 10% of energy for the scheme. A SUDS system was installed to help with drainage, alongside careful landscaping and planting of indigenous plants.


Galvanising in Architecture Award 2011, Winner

Housing Design Awards 2011, Shortlisted

Further information

The Modern Timber House in the UK, chapter 4; divisareBell Phillips Architects

Take a closer look at modified wood.

Find out how to specify modified wood.

Images: Kilian O'Sullivan

Key contacts


Gallions Housing Association (now Peabody)


Bell Phillips

Timber supplier

Metsa Wood (Thermowood cladding); Green Buildingstore (windows)

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