Timber Square scheme in London was originally supposed to finish next year

Mace has replaced Laing O’Rourke on a £200m office scheme in London more than two years after it was originally beaten to the job.

O’Rourke won the Timber Square deal for Landsec in autumn 2020, promising that the plan to turn a 1950s printworks into 350,000 sq ft of grade A offices, affordable workspace, roof terraces and new public realm would see much of it built at its Explore offsite factory in the East Midlands.

But Building understands that delays to the project, which was initially expected to finish next March, and the resource being taken up by O’Rourke’s other jobs elsewhere, meant the project team opened up discussions with Mace about carrying out the next phase of work which has been begun by demolition and groundworks contractor Erith.

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O’Rourke won the Timber Square deal back in November 2020

In a statement, Landsec told Building: “We are on site with Erith progressing the basement works and have engaged Mace to provide construction procurement and logistics advice for the next construction stage of the project. Laing O’Rourke were originally appointed to provide pre-construction advice which was completed in the autumn of 2022.”

The covid-19 pandemic and, more recently, the faltering economy and rising borrowing costs have put question marks over the job and last November Landsec said it would only make a limited start on Timber Square because of worries over rising finance costs.

Another delayed Landsec scheme, to refurbish a 1960s office block called Portland House in London’s Victoria under a new £380m plan drawn up by Buckley Gray Yeoman and which McLaren is set to carry out, is also only due to make a limited start this year as well.

Landsec said it would spend a “modest” £55m on early works for the pair marking an “initial commitment [and so] keeping flexibility on the residual c. £400m capex [capital expenditure] until mid-next year while markets remain unsettled”.

The Timber Square win cements Mace’s position as the biggest contractor in London with the firm having picked up two jobs in the capital recently – the £150m Merck life sciences building at King’s Cross and a £150m office scheme on Berkeley Square called Lansdowne House on which it also beat O’Rourke.

But O’Rourke has picked up a huge cancer treatment centre scheme in Oxford, thought to be worth north of £300m and due to start in earnest this summer, and is also carrying out work on a life sciences scheme elsewhere in the city for Stanhope.

Designed by Bennetts Associates, Timber Square will be built at 25 Lavington Street in Southwark close to the Tate Modern.

It comprises two buildings of 10 and 15 storeys and replaced a previous proposal by Allies and Morrison to build a 10-storey commercial building along with three residential blocks of eight, 13 and 21 storeys which was ditched after Landsec bought the site from that scheme’s developer Gaterule in 2018.

Others working on the project include structural engineer Heyne Tillett Steel, QS Alinea, M&E engineer Hoare Lea and principal designer Gardiner & Theobald.