A six-storey timber frame block of flats, believed to be the first in London, is nearing completion.

The £6m Ion development at Woolwich uses techniques from the recent Building Research Establishment TF 2000 project which pioneered timber lift shafts and stairwells in multi-storey timber frame buildings.

Timber frame was chosen for the 21 apartments ahead of other materials partly because it better suited site conditions.

Andy Ainsworth, of developer St James Homes, said river wall tie rod locations made it impossible to drive piles into the ground. Instead, a concrete buoyancy raft was chosen, with a timber frame structure to reduce foundation loads.

David Barber, of timber frame engineer Chiltern Clarke Bond, said all the stairs and their enclosures were in timber rather than solid core as they had been in the past.

He said there was growing demand for such developments – his company is currently working on seven-storey timber frame student accommodation in Wolverhampton.

Experience gained through the Ion project will be made available through a case study report facilitated by the DTI Fast Track Scheme.