Monthly Archives: September 2016

dRMM shortlisted for Stirling Prize, the UK’s top architecture award - 18-09-2016


dRMM’s architectural design for Trafalgar Place has been shortlisted for the 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize, the UK’s most prestigious architecture award. Made up of 235  tenure-blind, high-quality homes of which 25% are affordable dwelling. The project transforms the built environment whilst respecting the history of neighbouring buildings. Trafalgar Place is a flagship housing project for Lendlease and is a part of their wider redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle.

An open green landscape

The transformation of the former Heygate Estate enriches the qualities of the area, creating a thriving, desirable place to live, work and visit. Separate buildings are integrated within an open green landscape characterised by mature trees and diverse new planting. A new public realm within the historic fabric of the neighbourhood is created.


Created in consultation with locals

The scheme was designed and developed in consultation with Southwark Council and local residents. The massing and height of the buildings provides the required density with a variety of scale and form; a mixture of mini-tower, apartment buildings and terraced houses. The forms are simple, prioritising interior space and spaces between buildings. Apartments are mainly dual aspect and designed to maximise natural daylight, ventilation and views.


A layout that reconnects the neighbourhood

The plot layout reconnects the dislocated adjacent neighbourhoods that were previously fractured by the elevated walkways and monolithic blocks of the Heygate Estate. The careful retention of 25 mature London Plane trees serves as a positive memory of the former estate and now frames character landscapes designed by Grant Associates. A new public street has been created through the scheme, along with an internal private landscaped courtyard – a community space for residents to cultivate food and neighbourliness.

Smart and modern methods of construction

Two of the buildings at Trafalgar Place are made from cross-laminated timber (CLT) and demonstrate dRMM’s commitment to environmentally smart modern construction. This is the first completed residential development for Lendlease in the UK using this form of construction, a prototype for the masterplan. Windows and balconies are large and of high quality. The polychromatic brickwork employed throughout the scheme incorporates expressive detail, articulating windows, walls and corners.


Trafalgar Place shows how the quality of life can be determined by the quality of composition and construction. As London tries to cope with and respond to its chronic housing shortage, the scheme demonstrates that positively designing the built environment at a local level is of key importance to city making.

For further information

Please go to the Trafalgar Place project page for more details and a full list of project team credits.



Construction has begun on the world’s first permanent building created using sustainable hardwood cross-laminated timber (CLT). Designed by architects dRMM, Maggie’s Oldham is the first building to utilise the beauty and strength of the material.

The completed building will have a playfulness and warmth that supports the central aims of the design – to uplift and offer hope to people affected by cancer – and is constructed entirely of American tulipwood CLT.

Co-developers of tulipwood CLT

“We co-developed tulipwood CLT for its inherent lightness, strength and expressive warmth,” said Alex de Rijke of dRMM architects, “making it the right fit for Maggie’s, structurally and conceptually”.


The material was invented in a collaboration between dRMM Architects, the American Harwood Export Council (AHEC) and top engineering firm Arup, for the London Design Festival Landmark project ‘Endless Stair’.

Since then tulipwood CLT has been gaining attention for its advantages over concrete and steel, as it is a renewable resource, has a high strength-to-weight ratio and sophisticated finish.


The structural boundaries of the material have been further extended in ‘The Smile’, an ambitious installation for the 2016 London Design Festival designed by Alison Brooks Architects in collaboration with AHEC and Arup.

“It is a pivotal moment for modern construction.” said de Rijke, as this week the massive panels of tulipwood CLT, made by Zublin Timber, were craned into place at Maggie’s Oldham.

Pioneering the use of engineered timber

Well known for their innovations in design and construction, dRMM have pioneered the use of engineered timber since 2000, with directors Jonas Lencer and Alex de Rijke presenting at major timber events around the world including Europe, Asia and Australasia. In 2005 de Rijke predicted engineered timber would be “the concrete of the 21st century”.


The new Maggie’s Centre is expected to be completed in summer 2017 and will incorporate a distinctive ‘functional artwork’ by Dutch artist Petra Blaisse of Inside Outside. Maggie’s Oldham, The Sir Norman Stoller Centre, has been made possible through the generosity of the Stoller Charitable Trust as well as the Kinder Trust. Maggie’s is an independent charity that provides free practical, emotional and social support for people with cancer and their family and friends.

For further information on Maggie’s Oldham

Please go to our Maggie’s Oldham project page for more details and a full list of project team credits.