More than 20 years after it opened, Southwark tube station is to get the over-site development it was built for, although not the one it was designed for.

Southwark station was designed by Sir Richard MacCormac as part of the Jubilee line extension, and had been suggested to have a tall circular tower on top. Instead, a considerably larger office block has been approved by Southwark Council which reflects the changes in the area which was very low rise when the station was first built.

The new development comprises a commercial office building, including a mix of retail, food and beverage uses and workspace at the ground and first floor, and public realm improvements above Southwark Station.

The seventeen-storey hybrid timber building has been designed by architects, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, and will be one of the tallest hybrid timber towers in the UK when completed. The hybrid construction method reduces the weight of the building, which was a necessary requirement as it would otherwise have been heavier than the tube station’s foundations were designed to carry.

In a first, the building is also designed to extract waste heat directly from the tube station below to help heat it and minimise its energy consumption.

As part of the works, the pavement on The Cut on the approach to Southwark station will be widened to improve the pedestrian environment and allowing for a dedicated space for cyclists.

A nod to the London Underground exists in the facade, which will be based on the colours of the tube lines.

The building is due to be completed in around four years time.

The proposals have been enabled by an agreed land exchange with the London Borough of Southwark, which has created the opportunity for the residents of the Styles House Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) to design their own new homes.


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  1. Maurice Reed says:

    Hybrid timber construction — will it be safe in case of a fire? In recent years a number of fires have ripped through buildings where large amounts of wood was used. Admittedly in many case it was due to sloppy construction where fire-breaks were omitted etc.

    • ianVisits says:

      I am sure they have thought about the basics before they even started on anything else.

    • Alistair Twine says:

      it’ll likely be some sort of Cross Laminated Timber panel construction which is very good in fire. Even “normal” timber construction is very good in a fire, the main issues have been during construction before they are finished.

      the new building regs would stop any timber in the facade anyway.

    • Damian says:

      The timber suggested, like all engineering materials, has strengths and weaknesses. Interestingly the wood mentioned here tends to keep its strength in a fire in a different way to steel. It does loose strength through its surface being attacked but is not subject to the same catastrophic failure that unprotected steel can be prone to. Either way it is an incredibly complex topic, certainly unaddressable in a couple of lines on the internet.

  2. Alex Mckenna says:

    Timber and high-rise? What could possibly go wrong? I’m sure the builders of Grenfell Tower also “thought about the basics” before they decided to follow the profits instead. Let’s hope they’ll have sprinklers and emergency exits.

    • ianVisits says:

      Maybe do some research – the sorts of composite wood being widely talked about for use in building structures is remarkably difficult to burn.

  3. Paul Pettinger says:

    Steel beams perform worse in bad fires than wood ones do. This is because when wood beams are exposed to fire, an insulating char layer is formed that usually protects the core of the beam. Steel beams meanwhile bend when exposed to fire and often catastrophically so, causing a building to collapse a lot more quickly.

    • MilesT says:

      Indeed, the rapid collapse of the Twin Towers (World Trade Center) in New York during the 9/11 attacks demonstrates exactly this problem

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