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SterlingOSB proves the ideal material for pioneering community project

Norbord’s SterlingOSB has been given a starring role in an exciting new community project in the heart of Brixton, south London.

The Pop Brixton project is a pioneering new space created by architect, Carl Turner, in partnership with developer, The Collective, on behalf of Lambeth Council. Designed with the local community in mind, Pop Brixton will showcase the best and most exciting independent start-ups and businesses from Brixton and Lambeth.

The development makes extensive use of former shipping containers which provide a low-cost modular solution for the offices, bars, workshops and retail units on the site.

SterlingOSB is used in the majority of these containers to line the walls and floors, as well as being used in other structures throughout the scheme.

Carl Turner Architects has a reputation for using low-cost, low-energy recycled materials such as shipping containers and is an enthusiastic user of OSB. “The office units are completely lined with OSB,” explains Carl. “We’ve used it a lot before because it has an excellent environmental profile as well as being strong and durable.

“It’s easy to work with and I like its warmth and texture,” adds Carl. “In terms of its physical performance, it’s every bit as good as plywood,” he adds.

Besides lining the container units with SterlingOSB, Carl has also used the material as sheathing on a triple-height staircase in the central ‘event space’. “We are using it to create several external walls in the office space as well,” explains Carl. “Here we’re using 12mm SterlingOSB with a vapour membrane and cladding on top.”

Carl estimates that, when completed, the project will have consumed over 2,000 sheets of SterlingOSB. “We’re mainly using 18mm OSB3 – especially on all the floors as it’s more rigid than the 12mm board.

SterlingOSB is ideal for this type of project, being both affordable and sustainable. It is made in Scotland from forest thinnings (a by-product of sustainable forestry). This is grown locally and processed at Norbord’s factory in Inverness using renewable heat energy from a biomass plant burning process residues.

So far, about two-thirds of the Pop Brixton complex is complete and tenants are already moving in. When completed there will be 10 affordable units for rent at between 20% and 50% of standard market rents.

The focus of the project is to provide jobs and business opportunities for the local community and create what Lambeth Council describes as “a mini-city providing much-needed flexible studio, retail, office, and workshop space”.

The site, which Lambeth Council has handed over without charge for the next two years, will create around 200 jobs. Crucially, over 85% of selected tenants either live or have previously worked in Brixton.

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