Structural timber brings net zero to Paradise

A disused Costa Coffee roastery in Vauxhall is set to become an exemplar in sustainable design and construction with a strong focus on health and wellbeing for occupiers and the local community.

About this project

Development company Bywater Properties tasked architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) with creating London’s healthiest workplace. The aim was to create 60,000 sq ft of flexible, healthy, net zero workspace and maker space just a stone’s throw from the Albert Embankment alongside the River Thames.

The building, named Paradise, will be used for office, research and light industrial use. The aim is for more than 10% to be light industrial and ‘maker space’, providing an open and flexible environment for artisans and craftspeople to build and create. About two thirds of this will be affordable and first made available to local companies.

An exemplar in sustainable design

The six storey development is targeting a WELL Gold rating, a BREEAM 2018 Outstanding rating and Wired Score Platinum. To help achieve these ratings it has been designed with exposed timber, high levels of natural light and good ventilation.

Carbon dioxide detectors will be fitted within the office spaces to provide controlled levels of ventilation and to ensure good air quality. 99 bike spaces are included along with 14 external bike racks, 9 showers and 102 lockers, to encourage active journeys to work.

The building sits adjacent to the historic Old Paradise Gardens and has direct access to the park, enabling building users to see the greenery from inside and bring that indoors too.

It has an open ground floor level, encouraging foot traffic through the building to activate the space. Paradise will be a hub for the local business community, for makers and light industrial businesses. It aims to be a wonderful place for people to work that also has a positive impact on the environment.

Flexible and demountable

Flexibility for the future was a key part of the brief. Bywater wanted the building to be re-configurable internally and also to be demountable at the end of its life. The building will be open plan and low energy.

The choice of cross-laminated timber (CLT) for the structure means that it can be taken apart and the timbers re-used in the future. Connections have been designed for easy disassembly. The building will be clad with ceramic tiles that will last centuries, and again can be removed and re-used when the time comes.

Use of timber to reduce embodied carbon

The building’s structure was designed with Webb Yates Engineers, and will be made from a combination of CLT slabs and cores, glued laminated timber (glulam) beams with some supporting steel beams on a concrete foundation.

The use of timber for the structure will help the building to achieve net zero carbon.  FCBS calculated that the sequestered carbon contained in the timber is sufficient to offset the embodied carbon emissions generated during the construction process as well as the first 60 years of operational carbon emissions.

The carbon calculations were carried out manually using figures from The ICE Database v3.0 together with quantities from Webb Yates and wall build ups based on FCBS standards.

With its exposed timber interiors and high ceilings, the building will also offer a sense of space and light to ease occupants’ health and wellbeing. The timber also provides a beautiful, warm, natural finish that helps to deliver a healthy environment.

Planning permission was granted in the summer of 2020 and completion is expected in early 2023.


Images: Bywater Properties

Awards: Winner - New London Awards 2020 – Working Category

Key contacts


Bywater Properties


Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Structural Engineer

 Webb Yates Engineers

More information

Bywater Properties

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