UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering


The New Model Building: Revolutionizing Multi-Storey Mass Timber Housing Design in the UK

2 November 2023

The New Model Building (NMB) is set to revolutionize the design of multi-storey mass timber housing in the UK, offering comprehensive guidelines and design principles that ensure safety, sustainability, and compliance with current legislation.


Groundbreaking advancements in the construction industry are on the horizon as Prof Jose Torero, in collaboration with industry partners Waugh Thistleton Architects, Buro Happold, and Gardiner & Theobald, unveils the innovative New Model Building. This pioneering initiative introduces a comprehensive set of design principles and guidelines for multi-storey residential mass timber buildings up to 6 storeys in height, aiming to transform the way we design and build sustainable housing in the UK.

The New Model Building, or NMB, has been meticulously pre-assessed by the national warranty provider, NHBC. This assessment process ensures that the NMB provides a valuable reference for organizations seeking to utilize mass timber in the construction of multi-storey housing structures up to 18 meters, or 6 storeys. The suite of open-source documents produced by Waugh Thistleton Architects covers essential aspects of the NMB:

  1. An Overview Guide: Explains the necessity of the New Model Building and its components.
  2. A Detail Handbook: Contains technical standards, details, checklists, and performance specifications based on NMB principles.
  3. The Evidence Book: Compiles all pre-assessed documents submitted to NHBC by Waugh Thistleton Architects, UCL, and Buro Happold.

This comprehensive suite of information serves as an invaluable resource for a wide range of stakeholders, including designers, developers, housing providers, local authorities, insurers, and investors. It empowers them with the knowledge and expertise needed to seamlessly integrate mass timber into multi-storey residential projects.

The significance of the New Model Building is underscored by the growing prominence of timber as a sustainable building material. Its ease and speed of construction make it an attractive choice, but its flammability necessitates rigorous fire safety standards. The NMB offers a solution by guiding designers and builders in compliance with UK legislation, ensuring fire safety is paramount in the design of timber buildings.

An essential aspect that sets the New Model Building apart is its pre-assessment by the national warranty provider, NHBC, making it fully compliant with current legislation. This compliance significantly enhances the likelihood of insurance coverage for projects based on NMB principles, providing peace of mind to all stakeholders involved.

As a call to action, the construction industry is encouraged to adopt these guidelines when designing multi-storey residential mass timber buildings. For more information, including how to implement these principles in your practice and access bespoke CPD, please contact Prof Jose Torero.

The New Model Building represents a significant step forward in the sustainable construction of multi-storey mass timber housing in the UK, promoting safety, compliance, and innovation. Join us in shaping the future of timber-based construction.

For further details, access the New Model Building guide.