BSkyB, London | United Kingdom

Believe in Better Building

Project educational facility
Location London, United Kingdom
Construction period 2015

Execution B & K Structures &
binderholz in partnership
Architect Arup Associates
Statics Arup Associates



Under the banner of Believe in Better Buildings (BiBB), BskyB’s new educational facility for graduates, apprentices and staff training, reflects the company’s sustainable aspirations. Based at the Campus at Osterley, West London, the 3,000 m2 development encompasses a three storey linear building with an additional storey accommodating a restaurant and roof terrace - all providing an inviting multi-functional amenity.

The educational facility is the first in a series of initiatives using the power of television, creativity and sport to help young people achieve their potential by gaining the skills, experience and inspiration needed to help prepare them for the world of employment. The objective of the project is to construct a low energy structure within a short time period - making solid timber and timber cassettes the optimum rapid and sustainable solution.

BSkyB’s own sustainability strategy shaped the building philosophy - keeping sustainability at the forefront was important - so the exposed engineered timber structure left no ambiguity as to the buildings construction.

In addition to sustainability, speed and ease of construction were the driving factors on this project, without compromising on the quality of design and materials. The new educational facility incorporates a Combined Cooling Heating and Power Plant (CCHP), along with BskyB’s existing wind turbine. The educational facility is the first building to be completed in a series of three in the BskyB Believe in Better Building project at the site.

Optimised Hybrid Structure

Mace appointed the X-LAM Alliance (B & K Structures and binderholz in partnership) to provide an optimised hybrid structure for the build - comprising a glulam frame with cross laminated timber (binderholz CLT BBS) floor, roof and stability walls, together with perimeter wall cassettes. The structure was designed to deliver permanent quality, adaptability and long term energy efficiency, to meet the sustainability objectives. The build was to be completed in time for BSkyB’s 25th anniversary celebration making speed and ease of construction vital - however, it was important not to compromise on the quality of design and materials as a result.

An engineered timber industrial system was specified as it allows for rapid assembly and offers excellent airtightness through insulated panel facades. The solid timber frame was able to meet the natural look and feel that BskyB were looking for and timber cassettes were again able to offer the low thermal resistance and high airtightness that the structure required to meet the design brief.

The building was positioned to sit at the centre of Sky’s Campus and therefore is testament to the company’s core values and ecological ethos. BskyB had specific sustainability targets mapped out for the structural framing options. The targets included a 15% reduction in embodied carbon of construction, 27% of recycled content, responsible sourcing of materials through PEFC or FSC timber and 80% of key materials by mass manufacture within a given radius, depending on density.

Due to construction taking place in the midst of Sky’s fully operational headquarters, extensive planning was essential - particularly with regard to noise levels and safety. Flexibility was also crucial to the project’s success, as part of the brief stated that the spaces should be adaptable over the long term.

The system took the form of a glulam frame with visible grade binderholz CLT BBS panels providing core stability to the walls and floors, which were to be left largely exposed within the finished structure. The building featured a green roof with a CLT BBS structure, covered with PV Panels and sedum. The timber cassettes were utilised to erect the walls, ranging from 0.7m - 2.5m in width to 1.5m - 12.5m in length to accommodate the window arrangement. The connections used were galvanized steel bracketry, with connection timber plugs and covers - boarded to provide fire protection to the connections.

The building, now valued at circa £14m, incorporates sustainable features such as a rainwater harvesting system, solar panels and high efficiency lighting to minimise energy consumption.

The Challenges

Challenges for this build included adhering to a strict programme of works in order to complete the structure on time, while causing minimal disruption to the surrounding areas.

Tolerance of the connections proved challenging due to the 28m height structure - the connection interface between components needed to be exact to ensure that it was erected in the same manner that it was designed. This was particularly important because of the differing materials that B & K Structures utilised and the interface between them. Designing the propping for the CLT BBS panels was also difficult because of their large size.

The Solutions

In order to overcome these challenges, careful scheduling and coordination were executed at the early stages of the development. This included forward planning of propping the CLT BBS panels. The design process was made simple and repetitive in order to be completed within the strict build time. B & K Structures robust supply chain made the preparation more efficient when it came to management of the products. binderholz longterm experience on solid timber solutions based on CLT BBS combined with the knowledge of the binderholz engineering team completes the benefit of working with the X-LAM Alliance.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology and CNC machines were used to ensure the structures were manufactured to exacting tolerances to guarantee the details of the connections were precise. Architects and engineers worked together in a shared office - allowing them to make real time decisions.

BIM goes beyond the planning, design and construction phases to the whole life cycle analysis of the project and can provide the end user with information from conceptual ideas and building design to cost control and construction management. BIM has changed the dynamic of the construction business, enhancing efficiencies, delivering well-coordinated and well-designed projects.

The Highlights

”This was a truly an exciting build,” commented Nick Milestone, Managing Director of B & K Structures. ”It really gave us the opportunity to showcase our extensive product portfolio and specialist services - all coming together to deliver an optimised structure. It was great to work with such a pioneering client and we look forward to continue to work with Sky in the future.”

According to Timothy Snelson, Associate Engineer of Arup, the big timber facilitated the best build for this project, with the binderholz CLT BBS slabs and insulated panels providing the 'real big' win.

Photos: B & K Structures

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