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SUMMER 2021 | £4.95

STRUCTURAL TIMBER The latest in structural timber building design and technologies STRUCTURALTIMBERMAGAZINE.CO.UK




CATT & Timber Education

The new Centre for Advanced Timber Technology and improving industry skills and knowledge


RHS Garden Bridgewater

Showcasing structural timber and superb design at Europe’s largest gardening project


Timber Accelerator Hub

Understanding and addressing the complexities and challenges surrounding timber and insurance








MEDITE makes it real


From windows and doors to tables and chairs. To kitchen cupboards, skirting and bespoke-crafted stairs. For dolls houses and toys, putting smiles on little ones’ faces. And planters and baskets in our beloved green spaces. The clocks, the picture frames that adorn living room walls. The desks for home working and learning in schools.

Engineered wood panels for imaginative builds, whether practical or playful, MEDITE® makes it real. Join the MEDITE MDF community online to receive the latest updates. Upload your project images to be entered into a competition. Sign up to receive a free gift.

Visit meditemakesitreal.com for more information. Dreamers welcome!

WELCOME Welcome to the latest issue of Structural Timber Magazine. This is a busy issue with lots to report on from the last few months, that has seen the construction sector slowed in its route back to normality in the face of widespread material shortages.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER UNDER: twitter.com/STMagUK ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES PLEASE CONTACT: STUART MAUNDER // T: 01743 290050 E: stuart.maunder@radar-communications.co.uk BACK ISSUES VISIT: www.structuraltimbermagazine.co.uk SUBSCRIPTIONS VISIT: www.structuraltimbermagazine.co.uk FRONT COVER: FINSA PRINTED ON: PEFC 16-33-576 paper stock by Buxton Press

PEFC Certified This product is from sustainably managed forests and controlled sources PEFC/16-33-576


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©Radar Communications Ltd. RELATED EVENTS: www.structuraltimber.co.uk/events www.timbertalks.co.uk www.structuraltimberawards.co.uk www.offsite-expo.co.uk DISCLAIMER: The content of Structural Timber Magazine does not necessarily reflect the views of the editor or publishers and are the views of its contributors and advertisers. The digital edition may include hyperlinks to third-party content, advertising, or websites, provided for the sake of convenience and interest. The publishers accept no legal responsibility for loss arising from information in this publication and do not endorse any advertising or products available from external sources. No part of this publication may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system without the written consent of the publishers. All rights reserved.

The Construction Products Association recently released a statement saying the demand for construction products is high across the UK and likely to continue throughout 2021, with every sector suffering availability issues. Steel, cement and aggregates are all in low supply and high demand but the pressures is keenly felt in the timber supply chain. Timber has seen global shortages since March 2020 and it’s now looking unlikely that any timber which hasn’t been pre-sold prior to the pandemic will make it to UK shores. A combination of pandemic, Brexit and the booming housebuilding demands of the US and Chinese markets are posing huge problems for global demand. The latest ONS figures suggest a huge impending impact on building projects – you can read a lot more about material shortages and how to deal with them from the Timber Trade Federation inside. A key feature to head for this issue focuses on the New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering and its Centre For Advanced Timber Technology (CATT). According to Founding Director, Professor Robert Hairstans, this will be an ‘ecosystem of industry and academic partners’ designed

to better connect research, innovation, commercialisation and education to boost sustainability across the built environment, with the first intake of CATT learners scheduled for September 2022. As we went to press the Government’s Building Safety Bill was unveiled, with a mission to “overhaul regulations, creating lasting generational change and setting out a clear pathway on how residential buildings should be constructed, maintained and made safe.” The effects of the Bill and the powers of the new Building Safety Regulator are still to be fully understood but timber has been caught up in the mix of post-Grenfell investigations and reform into safer, highquality homes. Because of this insurance has never been more important. For more on this, Joe Giddings, Projects & Campaigns Director at the new Timber Accelerator Hub, illustrates how vital it is for the sector to collaborate in the goal to demonstrate timber’s performance benefits and safety measures. Many thanks to all our contributors, advertisers and supporters.

Gary Ramsay | Consultant Editor E: gary.ramsay@structuraltimbermagazine.co.uk


Stuart Maunder

01743 290050



Hannah Jones

01743 290048



Catherine Bodley

01743 290001



Debra Brooks

01743 290016


• Members of Structural Timber Association. • Extensive experience of applying STA guidance and research. • Determination of category of frame needed. Protecting people and property since 1982


• Advice on appropriate solutions to reduce the risk of fire spread to surrounding buildings. • Use of advanced computer modelling techniques to analyse timber frame proposals and provide a cost effective solution.

The multi-disciplinary team comprises both chartered and graduate engineers, with specialist experience in fire protection and fire engineering, and experienced fire safety professionals with backgrounds in local authority fire and rescue services. For further information visit our website:

www.cstodd.co.uk Tel: 01252 792088

Certificate Number 860 ISO 9001

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P30 A CHANGING MATERIAL LANDSCAPE As timber supply has tightened in recent months, the Timber Trade Federation has been keeping the construction industry regularly updated on stock levels and where the pressure points rest for timber merchants and those in the construction industry.

COVER STORY - FINSA Since its origins in the 1930s as a sawmill in North-western Spain, FINSA has grown to become an industry leader in wood-based solutions and innovation and today produces 2million m3 of engineered panels with an ever-expanding range of newly developed materials made from sustainably sourced and recycled timber.

P38 A WELCOME ADDITION TO SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION RHS Garden Bridgewater is the largest gardening project in Europe with its new Welcome Building showcasing a number of different timber construction components and techniques to award-winning acclaim.




A quick round-up of some recent news stories from the timber and construction sectors that you may have missed including: Premier Group acquires NetZero Buildings, Beattie Passive unveil new range of modular zero-carbon homes and environmental non-profit organisation Preferred by Nature, launch Timber Chain, a new blockchain-inspired efficiency and supply chain security service.

The New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering (NMITE) and its Centre For Advanced Timber Technology (CATT) is set to be a timber technology disrupter. Founding Director, Professor Robert Hairstans outlines what it hopes to achieve.





Our regular column collects some views and opinion from a range of industry insiders, covering a few topical issues affecting the timber sector and the wider construction world. We hear from Rod Allan, Eleanor Brough, Rory Doak, Charlotte Hale, David Leslie and Michelle Richardson.

Automatic crosscut saws

James Jones & Sons have completed a new visitor building at its flagship Lockerbie site that acts as a demonstration project erected from the company’s own products and minimises the use of steel and maximises timber.

P46 BUILDING THE FUTURE Long established as pioneers in developing and manufacturing high-performance machinery for the offsite housing market, Sweden-based Randek are now ready to expand into the UK.

P48 GEOMETRY LESSONS FOR IBSTOCK Maccreanor Lavington recently completed a refectory at Ibstock Place School, an independent, co-educational day-school for over 1,200 four- to 18-year-old pupils in south-west London, after winning a competition in 2016.

P52 MASS TIMBER INSURANCE: A STOCK TAKE Joe Giddings, Projects & Campaigns Director at the Alliance for Sustainable Building Product’s new Timber Accelerator Hub, explains how some of the complexities surrounding timber and insurance can be addressed.

production costs reduced by up to


less wood used

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COVER STORY FINSA The first-floor acts as a central ‘plaza’ defined by various meeting rooms of different sizes and multi-purpose furniture to accommodate different meeting formats. The architects chose a grid structure with perimeter supports only on the two sides adjoining the existing buildings, thus achieving a highly versatile open plan. Based on a square module of 3 x 3m, it equally enhances all directions creating a dynamic space, underlining its centrality with dimensions which are perfect for generating the different meeting areas.


01 Since its origins in the 1930s as a sawmill in North-western Spain, FINSA has grown to become an industry leader in wood-based solutions and innovation, and today produces 2million m3 of engineered panels with an ever-expanding range of newly developed materials made from sustainably sourced and recycled timber. Innovation is at the heart of FINSA’S ‘Solutions in Wood’ mantra. Stemming from three basic board types, namely chipboard, medium density fibreboard (MDF) and a proprietary hybrid panel called SuperPan, the manufacturer produces everything from high-performance structural panels to premium veneered materials, lightweight solutions, and bespoke panels to meet a given specification.



La Conexion FINSA’s passion for timber construction can be seen in their new headquarters. MRM Architects redesigned this building as a huge living material library that celebrates timber construction and showcases their most innovative wood-based solutions. The proposal is based on a simple organisation and composition of open and flexible spaces, which aims to reflect the company’s new image while maintaining their philosophy of being a pioneer on the manufacturing of solutions in wood. The building shows the predominant use of wood with a cross laminated timber (CLT) structure, floor and roof framing, suspended ceiling systems, and wall paneling. The different structural and constructive elements are arranged and designed with the least possible redundancy of materials and solutions. The volumetric simplicity is extended to the design of the glazed facades without visible framing, to enhance the feeling of ‘connection’ between the two existing buildings, as well as with the landscape, the nearby exterior, the building itself and the factory behind.


Inside this grid, which is visible and defined by the structure of laminated wood beams, two elements are included: the staircase and the patio. These emphasise the open plan around them in both levels of the building. Both elements also increase the verticality of the building and fulfill a double function: to expand the spatial perception of the ground floor and to connect both floors physically and visually through visual suggestive diagonals. In addition, numerous roof skylights improve the quality of the spaces, introducing abundant light diffuse in the grayest days of Santiago de Compostela . SuperPan Tech P5 One of the highlights of the building is the use of FINSA’s SuperPan Tech P5, a multi-layer hybrid panel developed and patented by FINSA. The unique properties and high performance of SuperPan present a multitude of advantages when used in structural applications. SuperPan H Tech P5 (load bearing and moisture resistant) is increasingly recognised as a huge advancement in timber construction allowing for larger spans, thinner boards, and thus more efficient construction. The flooring of La Conexion uses the board in 35mm to achieve a highly rigid system while spanning the large centres featured in the structure without the need for excessively thick panels. Thinner boards translate directly into a substantial cost saving, with benefits also found in storage, transport, and handling. This is just one of the many solutions that careful material selection has generated, the result of which is an extraordinarily unique space and a building that showcases what can be achieved when a manufacturer works in unison with designers and engineers.

COVER STORY FINSA La Conexion and MRM Architects, has won an accolade of awards for its innovative design and use of forward thinking materials which include: • Honour Award in Wood Design & Building Awards 2018 • Architect Project of the Year Award from the Galician Government • Shortlisted for the 14th Spanish Architecture Biennale • Shortlisted for Egurtex Award 2018 (International Forum of Architecture & Construction in Wood)


In the 1940s the first particleboards were developed using primarily chipped, sawmill products and recycled wood. They then evolved to a more refined product which used wood fibres to create a more refined material – MDF. In the year 2000, almost 40 years later, FINSA took the next step and developed a board that combined the strengths of these two materials, this was the creation of SuperPan. SuperPan is an innovative board with a unique composition, a new generation of technical wood manufactured by FINSA through a continuous pressing process. Despite having a great and technically evolved product, the development did not stop there. FINSA invested in an entirely new custom production line, implementing the most advanced technology on the market specifically to manufacture this new generation of particleboard. In 2016, at the production centre in Nelas (Portugal), FINSA started production of the ‘new’ SuperPan. Exclusively manufactured and patented by FINSA, SuperPan consists of five layers of coarse particles, fine particles, and wood fibre that when pressed together give the product great stability and high performance as well as a high resistance to loads, high impact resistance and an excellent balance between cost and value. The highdensity wood fibre faces combined with a particle core give SuperPan H Tech P5 excellent airtightness performance, which is certified by the Passive House Institute making it a key element of many high efficiency buildings. VapourStop VapourStop is the latest advancement which builds on the SuperPan H Tech P5 panel, featuring an integrated vapour

03 control layer. This permits a significant reduction in additional membranes, labour and complexity. VapourStop is now being distributed in partnership with Ecological Building Systems (www.ecologicalbuildingsystems.com), specialists in passive house construction systems. Niall Crosson, Group Technical Manager with Ecological Building Systems, said: “We are delighted to partner with FINSA in the establishment and exclusive supply of their range of innovative SuperPan boards in Ireland and the UK. The unique technical characteristics of the VapourStop board and its certification and environmental credentials make it the perfect partner for our range of innovative airtightness solutions.” The Future FINSA has demonstrated they are leading the way to advance the uptake of sustainable timber construction, with teams working tirelessly to create better solutions and enhancing performance with new developments. Superpan is opening the door to a multitude of opportunities where engineers, designers and architects can employ new systems to create better quality, more sustainable, and highly efficient buildings.


04 Whilst developing innovative materials, FINSA has ensured the process of creating these is not at the price of the environment. FINSA Factories have been designed and work to a strict criteria to ensure no energy is lost during the manufacturing process, through to the management of forests and using 100% of the felled tree. FINSA has gained and continues to gain sustainability certification across a number of bodies to continually improve their environmental standing. To drive the best possible solutions, FINSA works collaboratively with clients to fully understand their needs, offering insight and developing optimised solutions. For those who are ready to step away from the conventional, FINSA has an impeccable track record of delivering impact and added value to those who choose to utilise their innovative solutions. For more information visit: www.finsa.com

IMAGES: 01-02. FINSA’s new HQ La Conexion has been redesigned as a huge living material library that celebrates timber construction. Courtesy MRM Architects 03-04. SuperPan Tech P5 is a multi-layer hybrid panel developed and patented by FINSA. Courtesy Energiehaus Arquitectos SLP





Saint-Gobain commits to supporting the construction of more high-quality homes for care leavers as well as further construction training for young people through renewal of its charity alliance with Barnardo’s. From a group of more than 300 students from 39 universities and 27 interdisciplinary teams, the winners of Riverside Sunderland University Design Challenge #RSUDC21 were selected following a live event where students presented their projects to a panel of expert judges representing the best of UK construction. #RSUDC21 encouraged students to design, engineer, plan and cost a three-bed family home along with an indicative masterplan for 100 homes which meet RIBA2030 Climate Challenge targets. Students from across the UK were invited in this competition to collaborate, innovate, and create future-facing designs which reimagine how residents might live, work, and play together in beautiful, low-carbon, and multi-generational housing. Designs from the teams included landscapes and streetscapes with green and open spaces against the backdrop of Riverside Sunderland, and also use low-carbon materials with timber and timber-hybrid systems the main material focus of #RSUDC21. The judges felt that the standard of entries was exceptionally high and that all of the teams excelled in creating designs that connected with the history and ambition of the area, and imagined how modern methods of construction and inclusive design would deliver a truly sustainable community.



The winner was Team M: Aidana Roberts, Cardiff University; Brian Cheuk Yan Ho, University of Bath; Chian Ying Xuan, University of Sheffield; Dakari Brathwaite, University of West London; Kersten Chandy Mathew, Cardiff University, Milda Klimanskyte; University of West London, Oisin Higgins, University College Dublin. Andy von Bradsky, Head of Architecture with MHCLG, said: “We felt this scheme was a comprehensive response to all senses of the brief. We were really excited to the commitment to the sense of place and community, with an aim to create a place which would be a gem in the future of Sutherland. It really understood the context, the wider area, even looking to how it may compensate for lack of facilities elsewhere in the city to be not just satisfying for the people who live there, but a place to visit for the wider area. The design considers the riverside location to enhance the environmental, social and design value for their communities and comprehensively addresses the technical, landscape and carbon aspects of their house and masterplan, making this scheme almost buildable. It would give real design teams a run through their money.” The Riverside University Design Challenge (#RSUDC21) came together through the combined efforts of Sunderland City Council, Timber Development UK (TTF and TRADA), and MOBIE. All entries to the competition are viewable at: https://bit.ly/3yg89F1


During the partnership that has been in place since 2017 Saint-Gobain UK & Ireland and Barnardo’s have built high-quality homes to help young people transition from care to independent living and provided facilities for young people to train, develop new skills in construction and find employment in the construction sector. The new homes, part of Barnardo’s ‘Gap Homes’ plan, are purpose-built high-performing homes in Renfrewshire, Scotland which provide a lifeline to young people. The two Gap Homes were constructed using timber frame kits by Saint-Gobain brand Scotframe and materials were supplied by Jewson, Graham, Weber and a total of 21 SaintGobain brands to ensure the homes were energy efficient and comfortable for care leavers. Mike Chaldecott, Chief Executive, SaintGobain UK and Ireland, said: “Our charity partnership with Barnardo’s has had a deeply profound and lasting impact on the lives of young people and is a great example of how business can work with charities to blend experience, expertise and fundraising to create a lasting legacy and make a transformational difference. We are proud to have raised £1million for Barnardo’s over the last decade and our commitment to supporting care leavers into the construction industry. www.scotframe.co.uk


Wier Quay is a beautiful house built on the banks of the River Tamar, near Tavistock in South West England and features a range of timber products from leading French supplier PIVETEAUBOIS. The new timber-based home was designed for clients Mike and Susan Philips. To create the successful home a collaborative design phase went into great detail with the client to choose the appropriate materials to realise the concept. Wooden House, a specialist timber framing company from the South West of England, John Pardey an award-winning architectural practice and PIVETEAUBOIS, worked together closely, with the aim of all involved to create a wonderful home but also a healthier environment for their client. A range of timber systems and products were considered from traditional oak framing to Canadian Tamarack Larch, as well as a wide range of techniques from traditional mortice and tenon through to CNC-machining and modern stainless steel connectors. The materials that were eventually chosen were Pine cross



laminated timber (CLT) floor, walls and roof contained within a visible Douglas Fir glulam frame – all supplied by PIVETEAUBOIS. “This was a super project to be involved with,” says Elisabeth Piveteau-Boley, export sales manager UK & Ireland. “The team worked together so well to achieve the design brief and the vision of the client. A unique aspect of the house was the use of visible Pine CLT for the walls. This is something that is rarely seen in the UK and gives the house a very distinctive feel. It is a great showcase for this timber species. Alongside our sapwood free Douglas fir glulam and Pine CLT, we also supplied grey pressure-treated Douglas Fir cladding, so it really benefited the client that the architect and timber installer could source all the timber components required for the project from a single supplier. It makes everything so much easier and efficient when you are dealing with one single company.” The whole house was positioned a short distance from the banks of the River Tamar on a large steel frame that lifted the property above possible flood waters. The main problem encountered was that the


narrow lane that led down to the site from the main road meant that the articulated lorries delivering the frame to site would not be able to access it easily. The solution saw the use of a local unoccupied factory where the frame was unloaded and stored and where any final necessary carpentry could be completed. The CLT floor was installed first, before the walls and frames were erected in three sections. The roof was then lifted by crane and dropped into position. Despite minor setbacks the entire frame was erected and complete in just nine days. “A combination of location, brilliant design and choice of materials made this job a joy to work on,” says Will Bateman, Design Director at Wooden House. “Despite the initial set-back regarding access we were easily able manage the problem and quickly turned it to our advantage, something we pride ourselves on. Our partners and team worked so hard to realise the Phillips’s dream and it’s wonderful to see it completed.” Image courtesy: P.M.Phillips www.piveteaubois.com/en





Timber frame specialist, SO Modular, welcomed Economy Minister and Senedd Member, Vaughan Gething, to its new state-of-the-art, offsite manufacturing facility, located at the ‘Old Metal Box’ factory in Neath. The Minister was given a guided tour around the new facility, ahead of its grand opening later in the year. During his visit, he was shown SO Modular’s latest investment in new equipment and explained its plans for the site – where it will be producing sustainable, innovative, modular wood panel systems and roof trusses for use in the wider construction industry. The regeneration of the ‘Old Metal Box’ factory into SO Modular’s new facility has been made possible due to a substantial £900,000 Property Business Development Grant through the European Regional Development Fund. In addition, loan funding support worth over £2.8million, provided through the Welsh Government’s Innovative Housing Programme (IHP) to Tai Tarian Housing Association, has facilitated further investment in plant and machinery to increase its capacity. This increased capacity will allow SO Modular to help tackle the local and national housing shortage, by creating affordable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly housing. Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said: “This government is committed to backing Welsh business and as we emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic one of my priorities is to kickstart Wales’ economic recovery, ensuring it becomes an engine for sustainable, green growth. SO Modular is a well-established company anchored in the local community. They are an important employer in the region, and I am delighted our support will help them to grow their business and further their decarbonisation ambitions.” SO Modular and J. G. Hale Construction Chairman, Jonathan Hale, added: “Regeneration of the ‘Old Metal Box’ factory and, subsequently, increasing capacity at SO Modular are both integral to the economic recovery Wales very much needs. The facility’s sustainable, eco-friendly products will also go some considerable distance to helping Wales achieve its future zero-carbon housing targets.” www.somodular.co.uk

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After serving four years as Chair of the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI), Roy Wakeman OBE, is leaving his post with Alex Goodfellow stepping into the role.

As a result of Roy’s stewardship, the influence of the CTI as an advocacy group for timber has increased significantly, with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG)


Norbord Europe Ltd has joined the West Fraser organisation. As the UK’s number one engineered wood panel manufacturer and serving the housebuilding and construction industry with a vast array of board products for flooring, panelling and roofing, Norbord was the go-to name behind the company’s popular brands SterlingOSBZero, CaberFloor and CaberWood MDF. David Connacher, Marketing Manager, said: “We are delighted to be working within the West Fraser family. It gives



for the Timber Industries, reports including ‘How the timber industries can help solve the housing crisis’, and events bringing industry and politicians together strongly highlighting the status of timber as the material of the future. This means the CTI is poised to help the UK Government make construction more sustainable and move towards a zero-carbon economy. Roy said: “I wish the organisation and colleagues every success in their quest for an even wider awareness of the unique advantages and selling points of the material in the construction, building, home improvement and consumer markets.” Stepping into the role is Alex Goodfellow, Group Managing Director, Strategic Development, of Stewart Milne Group. Alex has over 35-years’ experience of working within the housebuilding and offsite timber frame sector bringing vast and varied experience to the Chair role of the CTI. Alex is a board member of the Structural Timber Association (STA), having previously served

us the opportunity to continue growing, developing and maximising our European business as we have been doing for many years. It is very much business as usual and our customer-facing teams are communicating this positive message to our key partners. “The two companies are much aligned and share many common values, including a commitment to safety, efficient manufacturing facilities, a focus on continuous improvement and teamwork, as well as manufacturing sustainable products that are essential for a lowcarbon economy. Product development and efficient supply chains will also be at the crux of the new organisation due to the merging of experienced teams. Absolutely nothing has changed for our customers. The people are the same, the products are the same, the plants are the same – Norbord Europe now becomes the European arm of West Fraser following the acquisition.” West Fraser is a diversified wood products company with more than 60 facilities in Canada, the United States and Europe. From responsibly-sourced and sustainablymanaged forest resources, West Fraser


as Chair, and Director of Offsite Solutions Scotland, an organisation established to grow offsite manufacture across the UK and internationally. Alex said: “I look forward to driving forward the mission of the CTI and placing timber at the centre of a sustainable, vibrant and prosperous modern UK economy. It is more important than ever we work collaboratively to promote and protect the markets for, and interests of, timber and timber products and systems. Building in timber is a form of carbon capture and storage and is essential to decarbonising construction. To make this happen we have a full calendar of engagements, political advocacy, market research, policy reports, and other events in the year ahead. Our many thanks to Roy for his hard work over the last four years to advance the interest of timber, and helping to secure a better, stronger future for our industry.” www.cti-timber.org

produces lumber, engineered wood (OSB, LVL, MDF, plywood, particleboard), and other products including pulp, newsprint, wood chips and renewable energy. It is business as usual at the three UK plants – in Cowie and Inverness, Scotland and South Molton, Devon – with no change in personnel. Simon Woods, European Sales, Marketing & Logistics Director, West Fraser added: “The joining of our two companies is a very exciting move for us in Europe. To list West Fraser’s long standing core beliefs – efficiency, modern mills, responsibility and leadership in environmental performance, the active involvement of employees in the business, a commitment to safety and a relentless pursuit of excellence in everything we do – is to echo Norbord’s. There is a huge opportunity for us to grow and develop in Europe together.” All previous Norbord contact details are the same but the website is now: https://uk.westfraser.com

ADVERTORIAL THE ‘FLYING’ GABLE WITH EUROBRICK Brick slip cladding systems have many applications and are often used in situations where constructing a traditional masonry wall would be problematic.


One such instance is above an intersecting roof line to the gable wall on a timber frame building (sometimes known as a ‘flying’ gable). Supporting the weight of traditional brickwork would call for additional engineered detail and its associated costs. With brick slip systems this would not be necessary. Eurobrick’s X-Clad and P-Clad systems offer a lightweight solution which provides the desired real brick finish.

battens and P-Clad can be fitted directly to battens. X-Clad is also a good insulator having a K-Value of 0.033W/mK and is available in 17, 25 and 50mm thicknesses which can be overlaid to provide up to 100mm of insulation if required. If additional insulation is not needed, the thinnest 17mm thick panel is used as a carrier for the brick slips.

Popular with both housebuilders and commercial building contractors, X-Clad and P-Clad are relatively low weight starting at 36 Kg/sq m and 53Kg/sq m respectively and have a slim profile. X-Clad can be readily applied to plywood supported by

Eurobrick has two brick slip ranges – Britannia and Classic – but if required whole bricks can be collected from site and cut into slips to ensure continuity with the development’s traditional brickwork. Eurobrick is widely recognised as the

studi o l i m e architects Our Bristol based studio team is experienced in efficiently delivering exciting design solutions. We work with a diverse range of clients to provide a bespoke design service for Heritage, Education & Workplace projects. We can assist through all stages of the construction process, from disucssing your requirements through the point where you step through the door. If you are starting to think about your next building project then we would love to speak with you. 45 Colston Street, Bristol, BS1 5AX www.studiolime.co.uk | 0117 3048 308

02 leading brick slip cladding specialist and has been supplying X-Clad for over 30 years. It is tried and tested and has third party certification with the British Board of Agrément (BBA). It is also Local Authority Building Control (LABC) certified. To find out more about X-Clad and other Eurobrick systems and products visit www.eurobrick.co.uk or call 0117 971 7117.

IMAGES: 01-02. Brick slip systems can ease problems associated with a ‘flying’ gable


Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) has revealed new plans to help retrofit public spaces into out-of-town alternatives to city centre offices, reflecting the changing working patterns of a post-Covid Scotland. As part of the NearHome project, supported by £250,000 in Scottish Government funding, a team of construction, sustainability, office design, and technology experts have developed a blueprint for a self-build, modular approach to office fit out using a kit that can be replicated and adapted to different types and sizes of buildings. South Lanarkshire Council and Smart Sustainable East Kilbride are also supporting the initiative, with input from infrastructure experts, the Scottish Futures Trust. The plans are designed to align with the emerging 20-minute neighbourhood approach to city planning that has gained momentum during the pandemic. The toolkit, which will be freely available to businesses and construction firms, centres around a kit-of-parts structure that can be installed quickly and with minimal interference for the building’s external fabric. It will also offer a solution for buildings that may have previously been considered too difficult or costly to retrofit. Sustainability is also a core element of the design, with a kit made from Scottish timber that can be easily deconstructed and re-used if required. Increased use of homegrown timber – across all areas of



construction – could have a significant impact on the sector’s carbon footprint by reducing the reliance on imported materials and making the most of natural resources. Lynsey Brydson, innovation manager at CSIC, said: “COVID-19 has caused a significant shift in working patterns and this approach to office design could be transformational in providing commuters with an alternative to heading into the city centre for work. Retrofitting is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to improving the carbon footprint of our built environment, but this sustainable approach is designed with low carbon materials and can be applied to older or unused buildings which would typically not be considered for office space. “Using modern methods of construction, the design is easily replicated with the majority of the building work done in a qualitycontrolled, offsite environment. Throughout this initial stage of the project, we have already seen the benefits of collaboration, with multiple partners helping to create the design for an optimum work environment.” NearHome office costs are designed to be in line with typical fit-out spend, with added benefits in terms of sustainability and a design fit for the future workforce. A pilot test site is currently being identified in East Kilbride, which will be transformed into the first office space to be constructed based on the design. www.cs-ic.org/innovationcentre



Katerra Inc, the US company set up in 2015 to revolutionise construction with a tech-driven approach to offsite construction and use of cross laminated timber (CLT), has filed for ‘relief under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code.’

Katerra expanded quickly through a series of acquisitions – including Indian giant KEF Infra and innovative tall timber specialist Michael Green Architecture. These are now likely to be offered for sale. Katerra’s 270,000sq ft facility in Spokane Valley, Washington was the largest single-use CLT facility in North America with one of the largest CLT presses in the world with an annual production capacity of 185,000m3. “The rapid deterioration of the company’s financial position is the result of the macroeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the construction industry, inability to procure bonding for construction projects following the unexpected insolvency proceedings of Katerra’s former lender, and unsuccessful attempts to secure additional capital and business,” said Chief Transformation Officer Marc Liebman. As reported by The Financial Times, Katerra was backed by SoftBank’s Vision Fund. The Vision Fund had invested more than $2billion in Katerra, including a cash infusion in December 2020 as part of a recapitalisation. Katerra had also been a client of Greensill, the SoftBank-backed supply chain finance company, which also collapsed earlier this year. www.katerra.com

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Environmental non-profit organisation Preferred by Nature and blockchaininspired identity platform iov42 are today announcing the launch of Timber Chain, a new service that will enable stakeholders across timber supply chains to improve efficiency, transparency and security through a secure blockchain application, storing all information in one place. By combining blockchain technology, third-party certification, and market knowledge, the Timber Chain modernises traceability: introducing real-time digital data recording, replacing traditional, paperbased processes which are labour intensive and often prone to human error. The Timber Chain service has been built to improve and secure the interactions between all stakeholders across the supply chain from forest to shelf. The security, productivity, and sustainability of international timber markets are too often affected by corruption and the fragmented nature of the industry, impacted further by outdated methods for information gathering and verification. Through Timber Chain, all data and claims are checked and certified by a reputable third party. All data is stored and secured by iov42’s distributed ledger technology, ensuring complete data integrity and confidence by utilising blockchain; a system of recording information in a way that makes it impossible to change, hack, or cheat the system.

The new application was first piloted by global wood trader of over 30 years, Carl Ronnow, who will continue using the Timber Chain following its launch as a full service. Having appreciated the increased levels of transparency and security provided by the new platform, Timber Chain will continue to equip Carl Ronnow with a much improved and modern avenue to meet their commitment to providing comprehensive due diligence to their buyers, supported by third party audits. Preferred by Nature and iov42 plan to expand the service to accommodate other forest and agriculture commodities across Preferred by Nature’s areas of expertise. iov42 CEO Dominic von Trotha Taylor said: “Timber Chain is an excellent example of what is possible when two different industries come together to address a real world issue, in this case, the transparency, efficiency, and resiliency of international timber markets.” Dick Anning, Carl Ronnow Environment Manager added: “We at Carl Ronnow always look for opportunities to increase the levels of credibility and transparency to the due diligence information that we offer to our buyers. By committing to uploading all of this due diligence information onto a secure digital database such as Timber Chain created by IoV42 , and combining this with our Preferred by Nature’s LegalSource due diligence certification, we know that we have found a new avenue for meeting these goals.” www.preferredbynature.org





The British Woodworking Federation (BWF) is calling for entries for its prestigious BWF Awards, celebrating outstanding achievement, skills and talent from across the woodworking and joinery sector. This year marks the 13th anniversary of the annual Awards, and both companies and individuals are encouraged to enter. “We’re delighted to be bringing the woodworking sector together once again to place a spotlight on the technical innovation, creativity and efficiency that make ours such an exciting field to work in,” said Helen Hewitt, Chief Executive of the BWF. “After what has been such a challenging time for so many of us, this is an important opportunity to unite once again as a sector and look forward to some well-deserved celebrations and socialising, which we have all missed so much over the last 16 months.” The categories for this year’s Awards, which are free to enter are: • Woodworking Project of the Year Award – Sponsored by W Exhibition & The FIT Show • Product Design in Wood Award – Sponsored by Teknos • Woodworking Apprentice of the Year Award – Sponsored by CITB • Rising Star Award – Sponsored by Dixon International Group Ltd • Health & Safety Hero Award – Sponsored by Arnold Laver • Process Efficiency Award – Sponsored by PIB Insurance Brokers. Entries for this year’s BWF Awards close at 17:00 on Friday 10 September 2021. The BWF Awards Dinner will be held on 26 November 2021 at the Kimpton Fitzroy London Hotel. www.bwf.org.uk/awards-2021

UK INDUSTRY NEWS SME WOOD MANUFACTURERS LOOK TO SMART GLASSES Made Smarter’s technology adoption programme is deploying smart glasses to SME wood manufacturers to virtually fast track their digital adoption strategies and navigate COVID-19 restrictions. The wearable device enables technology specialists from Made Smarter to perform virtual end to end production line walks of factories with a business as part of the digital transformation workshop (DTW) process. These fully-funded, bespoke workshops are led by technology advisers who cut through the jargon to provide impartial advice to help a business identify the most effective technologies to overcome their operational challenges. The virtual visit allows advisers to dial in to a conference call and watch each manufacturing operation being performed in order. This enables discussions around inputs, outputs, process control, and

quality performance in order to provide a clear picture of each businesses’ bespoke operation. The introduction of smart glasses has enabled Made Smarter to overcome access restrictions and limitations caused by the pandemic to get the vital insights needed to support the manufacturer’s digital transformation. It also gives manufacturers a valuable opportunity to test how this emerging technology could be used in their business. Will Kinghorn, Industrial Digital Technology Advisor for Made Smarter, said: “In the wake of the pandemic we redesigned our digital transformation workshops to continue delivery when in-person visits were not possible. This approach has helped 141 manufacturers engage in a streamlined process designed to accelerate manufacturing growth by identifying digital tools and technologies that can maximise operational processes.”

Made Smarter has different types of smart glasses to suit different requirements including: the Epson Moverio, Realwear HMT-, Vuzix Blade and Magic Leap. The glasses come with a 4G dongle to ensure connectivity if there are WiFi or network coverage challenges. They even work offline, which means manufacturers can record a video of the production line walk which can be reviewed later. The glasses are connected through Remote Eye software which enables a live stream video and the opportunity to take high-definition screenshots which can be tagged in a library for swift access. Viewers can also use a cursor to direct the wearer to any areas of interest and annotate the picture in real time. www.madesmarter.uk



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UK INDUSTRY NEWS INTERNATIONAL TIMBER APPOINTS NEW MD Paul Martin has been appointed to the role of Managing Director at International Timber, part of the SaintGobain group and a leading wholesaler of specialist timber and panel solutions. Paul has held the post of Commercial Director at International Timber since May 2019 and has overseen the company’s growth while managing the Brexit transition and the challenges brought about by Covid-19. Prior to this, he spent 25 years with Saint-Gobain PAM, working in the UK and South-Africa, across a variety of roles in sales, operations and general management. He takes the helm as International Timber

seeks to increase its sustainability ahead of its 2050 carbon neutral goal, and support manufacturers, architects and builders’ merchants to access quality, bespoke timber materials. Paul said: “I’m delighted to take on the role of Managing Director at a company I am so personally invested in. I want to ensure that we continue delivering outstanding sustainable timber and panel products, and help our customers navigate the everchanging and complex timber market. I also have the pleasure of working alongside a fantastic team, and I have no doubt that together we can achieve our ambitious plans for the future.” Ross Baxter, Managing Director of SaintGobain Off-Site Solutions, which comprises International Timber alongside sister companies Pasquill, Roofspace Solutions,

Intrastack and Scotframe, said: “Paul has done an excellent job of steering the business through a very challenging 2020 and I am confident that under his leadership, International Timber will go from strength to strength.” www.internationaltimber.com

PREMIER MODULAR ACQUIRES SIPS SPECIALIST Premier Modular, one of the UK’s leading offsite construction specialists, has announced the acquisition of NetZero Buildings by the Premier Group for an undisclosed sum. NetZero Buildings and Premier Modular are both part of Cabot Square’s private equity portfolio. The consolidation creates one of the strongest groups in the fast-growing offsite sector. NetZero Buildings specialises in the design, manufacture and delivery of some of the UK’s most energy-efficient school buildings. It is an award-winning offsite manufacturer and leasing specialist, and has a number of flagship low carbon education schemes currently underway following its success on the multi-billion pound Department for Education MMC1 framework. These include a £10.7million, 140-place net zero pathfinder scheme for the new Treetops Free School in Essex. Commenting on the acquisition, David Harris, Managing Director of Premier



Modular, said, “We see fantastic synergies and potential for collaboration between our two businesses. Premier offers new routes to market for NetZero Buildings and the opportunity to deliver their innovative building solutions to new customer segments in addition to their strong presence in the education sector.” “The NetZero team brings tremendous expertise in sustainable building solutions which will supercharge our strategy for Premier to become a market leader in the delivery of low carbon buildings to the benefit our customers and the communities in which we live and work.” “The acquisition will further strengthen our position in the education sector, and expands our range of offsite building systems to give us even more design


flexibility and the opportunity for hybrid construction solutions to meet customer requirements.” Keith Maddin, Partner at Cabot Square, said, “Premier has grown rapidly year-on-year and has become one of the highest performing and profitable businesses in the dynamic offsite sector. It has strong leadership and manufactures high quality buildings for hire, long-term lease and sale. We believe this acquisition, the huge potential for collaboration, and the strong environmental credentials that NetZero brings, will accelerate Premier’s journey to becoming one of the leading offsite businesses in Europe.” www.premiermodular.co.uk www.netzerobuildings.co.uk

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Beattie Passive – the first company to combine offsite construction with a Passivhaus Institute certified complete build system – are preparing to revolutionise housebuilding with their new range of modular zero-carbon homes.

Timber frame kits specialist DC Timber Systems has secured its first project with homebuilder CALA Homes (West) providing timber frame for its upcoming development Sequoia Meadows at Jackton, East Kilbride. The timber kit firm, which was launched in 2020 and is based in Dundonald in Ayrshire, is set to manufacture, and supply timber frame for 24 apartments located on the development. Although this is the first project between CALA Homes (West) and DC Timber Systems, The JR Group – of which DC Timber is a part of – has worked with the homebuilder for many years and will support DC Timber on the project by erecting the timber frame on-site, with JR Specialist Services carrying out full joinery services and JR Scaffold supporting with the scaffolding infrastructure. Ian Samson, managing director for DC Timber Systems, said: “We are delighted to work with CALA Homes (West) on its newest development at Jackton, East Kilbride. As this is our first project with the homebuilder, we really want to showcase the quality of our product, our smooth process and our level of service. We hope



this will be the first of many projects between DC Timber Systems and CALA Homes (West).” John Horne, managing director of The JR Group added: “We have worked with CALA Homes (West) for many years, so we are thrilled to see the timber frame arm of our business have the opportunity to work with them on the Jackton project. CALA is amongst the first to benefit from our ability to offer a one-stop-shop. Our group setup and specialisms are designed to accommodate projects exactly like this with great benefit to our partners. By accessing all our services, timing and delivery is seamless, there is one point of contact and the same team is on the ground to see the job through to completion.” Robert Lafferty, site manager for CALA Homes (West) at Sequoia Meadows, added: “We have a comprehensive procurement process to ensure our building partners and suppliers meet our high levels of quality and finish. We were impressed with DC Timber Systems and by The JR Group’s comprehensive offering here and we look forward to progressing with the project.” www.cala.co.uk


Beattie Passive’s modular range offers the perfect housing solution for both single-persons and families, with a variety of aesthetic finishes available, ranging from clean, contemporary designs to more traditional styles. Designed for Councils, Housing Associations and Developers, the new modular range offers a large range of products and styles that can be delivered quickly and can fit with the client’s needs and aesthetic requirements. Having all the same benefits as any other Beattie Passive build, the modular homes reach Passivhaus standards, with many of these house types able to achieve certification by the Passivhaus Institute, greatly reducing heating requirements and providing a healthier environment for residents and having a positive environmental impact. Ron Beattie, Managing Director of Beattie Passive, said: “We are very excited to be launching our new range of modular housing. These are the first fully modular homes that are able to achieve net-zero carbon and reach Passivhaus certification on the market and have all the same benefits as every other Beattie Passive build. These can be built and delivered much quicker than a traditional build for a comparable price, and we believe this offers a real opportunity to revolutionise housebuilding in the UK.” www.beattiepassive.com




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OPTIMUM RESULTS Cross laminated timber (CLT) is growing in popularity and can offer many advantages as a sustainable energy efficient building method. It has been used in many construction projects, predominantly within the commercial sector such as schools and hospitals. CLT is an engineered timber product, produced in a controlled factory environment from sustainably sourced timber. It is formed of kiln-dried spruce or pine boards which are laid on top of each other at 90° (three, five, seven or nine layers depending on structural requirements), and then coated with a layer of adhesive and subjected to immense hydraulic pressure to create large, stiff, dimensionally stable panels. Often referred to as ‘Super Plywood’, CLT offers high strength and the structural simplicity needed for costeffective buildings, as well as a lighter environmental footprint than concrete or steel. It also provides numerous other benefits, including quicker installation, reduced waste, improved thermal performance and design versatility. The Structural Timber Association (STA) ‘Advice Note 14, Robustness of CLT structures’, provides good practice guidance for the design, detailing and installation of CLT building structures. A critical element to their successful use is to ensure good moisture management, as whilst the system is robust, poor installation can let the design down. The CLT should always be on the warm side of the insulation to avoid unnecessary moisture fluctuations, which also brings the added benefit of



External walls (warm wall construction – breathable insulation) Service Class 1 for both sides of the CLT: 1. Cladding spaced off the insulation 2. Drained and ventilated cavity 3. Reflectashield® TF 0.81 4. Breathable thermal insulation 5. Wraptite® 6. CLT 7. Procheck® Adapt (if required pending hygrothermal checks) 8. Optional drylining and battened service zone

mitigating any potential cold bridging issues, as they are adequately catered for with the external envelope of continuous insulation. It is preferable for this insulation to be moisture open to allow the wall to breathe and reduce the risk of builtup moisture within the envelope. The cavity provides extra protection throughout the life of the building. The STA produced further guidance in January this year – ‘Laminate/Mass timber structures – Durability by Design Technical Note 23. This note concludes with some best practice advice including: • Ensure the external wall make up allows for vapour diffusion from the interior to exterior vented spaces (BS5250 standard to be referenced and followed in a design) • Air leakage control membranes and sealants checked to avoid moisture vapour traps • Thermal Insulation should be placed on the exterior side of the laminated mass timber panels. BS 5250 gives good guidance in the moisture management of CLT structures. This advice incorporates


many of the above principles and the placement of membranes to reduce the risk of damaging moisture issues. The A. Proctor Group provide a selfadhered, vapour permeable, airtight ‘breather membrane’ – Wraptite® that can be installed either behind or in front of the insulation. Once Wraptite® is applied to the CLT on the outside, the envelope is immediately protected from water ingress such as rain during the construction, which may be beneficial if the insulation is not to be installed immediately. The unique properties of Wraptite also provide the airtight line on the external side of the CLT panels offering, long term protection, and less risk of damages to the airtight layer from internal finishes. The high vapour permeability of the Wraptite provides the ‘breathing wall’ which will help reduce any potential moisture build up that may have happened during the build process and wet trades. For more information visit: www.proctorgroup.com where you can find details on all A. Proctor Group solutions along with links to an informative range of webinars.

Carbon negative. Positive future. At West Fraser (formerly known as Norbord) all our engineered wood panels have been certified as being net carbon negative. We lock up more carbon in our products than we emit making them, helping the UK construction sector comply with net zero targets.





02 an integrated system for marking out, levelling and fastening the timber wall to the ground.

04 Suitable for use with cross laminated timber (CLT) or timber frame walls, ALU START by Rothoblaas is bringing a new dimension to ground connections. Rothoblaas are very proud of the fact that they are the first to produce a single profile with the CE marking according to European Technical Assessment (ETA), capable of ensuring durability and at the same time transferring all the stresses of a timber building to the ground. A ‘three-in-one’ profile that can transfer all the stresses (compression, tensile, shear and lateral forces) to the foundation without using additional plates which, together with the reusable JIGSTART templates and the other products in the Rothoblaas range, forms



Ground connection is one of the most critical points of the building, where there is a lack of homogeneity of materials, a geometric discontinuity and where timber can potentially come into contact with water from different sources (external rain, rising damp or interstitial condensation of humid air from the inside). In recent decades, construction has become increasingly complex, so it is no longer sufficient to apply a few simple rules to ensure the required performance – this is particularly evident in the ground connection node of timber buildings. The ALU START profile, available in five different widths, eliminates contact between the timber panels and the concrete substructure, providing protection against rising damp and ensuring excellent durability of the building’s ground connection. It is the first ground connection system that eliminates hold-downs and shear angle brackets. Made of aluminium alloy, the ALU START system can be used with CLT or timber frame walls. The closedcell metal profile with small dimensions avoids the presence of moving moist air, while its low height leads to an important mitigation of thermal bridging.


03 ETA Certification The European ETA-20/0835 certification means that it is the first metal profile for connection to the ground certified by a third party, with complete and reliable calculation models for the structural verification of all components (aluminium part, nailing on wood and dowelling on concrete). EU legislation prescribes precise procedures for the certification and CE marking of construction products. Therefore an ETA is the only way to market ‘threedimensional nailed plates’ such as the ALU START profile. Furthermore, besides being necessary for CE marking, an ETA is a formidable way of providing the designer with all the information needed to carry out static and seismic verification of connections. As pioneers in the world of timber construction, Rothoblaas are bringing forward new ideas and developing safe and certified solutions to give an advantage and provide opportunities to build more and more high-performance buildings. www.rothoblaas.com

IMAGES: 01-04. The ALU START profile eliminates contact between the timber panels and the concrete substructure, providing protection against rising damp and ensuring excellent durability of the building’s ground connection


CHANGING THE PATTERN OF TIMBER EDUCATION to the varying needs of the construction sector from restoration, retrofit to newbuild infrastructure solutions with a vast array of products and systems available. However, timber continues to face barriers to uptake as a result of misinformation and lack of available skills. Further to this, digital transformation is unlocking the potential of these products and is also considered a game changer in the construction sector. With timber, the opportunity is a digital thread from built assets back to the forest floor implementing a virtual factory environment capable of improving overall productivity, maximising resource utilisation, unlocking investment and creating sustainable growth.

01 The New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering (NMITE) and its Centre For Advanced Timber Technology (CATT) is set to be a timber technology disrupter. Founding Director, Professor Robert Hairstans outlines what it hopes to achieve. 26


NMITE is a start-up Higher Education Institute based in Hereford that is responding to some of the key challenges of higher education today – taking the best practice and innovations from around the world and combining them into an authentic, integrated and challenge-based approach that addresses needs of both students and employers. Timber engineering was identified by NMITE as something that aligns directly with the ethos of the organisation. A sustainable material that can respond


Providing learners with access to the trifecta of timber, factory and digital based approaches via industry collaboration locally and nationally, creates the enabling conditions for something that can create scalable change. Further to this NMITE is situated in the West Midlands and close to the border of Wales, an area vibrant in low carbon construction and advanced timber technologies. In addition to CATT, NMITE will also host the Centre for Automated Manufacturing (CAM) and Centre for Future Skills (CFS). CATT and CAM will be co-located at Skylon Park with a City Centre Campus offering an MEng in Integrated Engineering. This offers another unique opportunity, the symbiosis of automated manufacturing and advanced timber technologies combined with a workforce skilled for the future. In this regard the educational approach will apply a student-centric learning methodology with a curriculum fuelled by real-world challenges, meaning that the educational offering


02 will be distinctive in the marketplace and will attract a different sort of engineering learner. The degrees to be delivered will be conceived and taught via a partnership approach working with external stakeholders, industry practitioners and academic collaborators. The partnership approach is core to the NMITE ethos and critically important to ensure those that are educated create value return to the sector and the community. The consensus from a series of roundtable partnerships meetings with the industry was that the need for CATT to: “stimulate collaboration across the industry both vertically (seed to end product) and horizontally (architecture, construction, digitalisation) as a common theme together with showing a wider audience how rewarding a career in timber can be.” Building on this theme, CATT is being established in partnership with Edinburgh Napier University (ENU), where I still retain a role as Head of the Centre for Offsite Construction + Innovative Structures. ENU is recognised internationally for its work in timber construction and wood science. An extension of this collaboration is developing a collaboration with the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC). Working with ENU and CSIC facilitates access to their advanced timber technology testing and manufacturing facilities respectively as well as a Trimble Technology Lab at ENU for digital built environment research and education. CATT has also established a five-year relationship with German based Dietrich’s, the 3D CAD/ CAM-software specialists for wood construction. The opportunity here is compelling, a connected ecosystem of industry and academic partners to enable an


approach whereby research, innovation, commercialisation and education can operate in concert for the sustainable delivery of the built environment. This is at a time when the construction sector is having a skills crisis requiring an additional 350,000 FTE workers over the next decade to deliver the volume of work needed to reach net zero by 2050. What is being set out is the creation of a collaborative culture to achieve this. Increasing the use of environmentally sound bio-genic and ecological construction materials such as timber will need to be based on a holistic value proposition (productivity, environmental and social impact, cost and building performance over time). Imperative to this are the skills necessary for responsible design and delivery providing a platform for environmentally efficient systems that can be realised optimally whilst ensuring longevity.

for research to be undertaken and innovations created and validated collaboratively in multi-contextual, empirical real-world environments enabled by digital technologies. This concept, including connectivity to other partner living lab projects, will ensure the curriculum is continually enriched and validated content is available for knowledge exchange.

The first intake of CATT learners is scheduled for September 2022 and they will be hosted in a purpose built 2,500sq m building co-located with CAM which will have studio and breakout spaces as well as two 700sq m workshop areas. The building will be a hybrid structure demonstrating advanced timber technologies and is to act as an exemplar in the region aspiring to net zero carbon targets. The building will encourage active education in timber technologies by showcasing them and incorporating biophilic design principles. The workshop space is to host the necessary equipment for challenge-based learning to take place but will not unnecessarily duplicate the resources accessible by other means taking cognisance of partner facilities and framework approaches.

For more information and details on the NMITE-CATT Strategic Action Plan and how it will help establish CATT as a centre of timber engineering and better educate built environment professionals please get in touch with: robert.hairstans@nmite.ac.uk and tim.belden@nmite.ac.uk

The building itself is to be a ‘Living Lab’ creating the necessary conditions


To realise the full potential of NMITECATT, a Strategic Action Plan for CATT is under development and was recently presented at a series of three outreach workshops for industry feedback. The proposition is to work with the sector in response to the COVID-19 recovery, Brexit, the declared climate emergency and UN Sustainable Development Goals. So far this has been roundly endorsed but we absolutely value opinions so please get in touch as we want to get this right.

CATT will be hosting a Strategy Finalisation, Building and Living Lab update event on the 4 August as part of the NMITE Summer of Discovery more details can be found at: https://nmite.ac.uk/summerofdiscovery www.nmite.ac.uk

IMAGES: 01. Seed to building value chain, design process and standard procurement model 02-03. CATT will provide learners with access to timber, factory and digital based approaches via industry collaboration locally and nationally






01 With industry demand for timber huge, Dan Ridley-Ellis, Head of the Centre for Wood Science and Technology, Edinburgh Napier University, summarises how different homegrown species can be graded. The UK’s forests provide about one third of the UK sawn wood market and about one third of this homegrown timber is sawn for construction. The majority of this is Sitka spruce but this is not the only homegrown species available. With calls to diversify the forests, Sitka it is set to become a less ubiquitous, although still very important, tree and timber species in years to come. Recent years have seen a broadening of strength grading methods. For historical and practical reasons, strength grading is done according to one of two approaches: visual strength grading and machine strength grading.



The underlying principle is, however, the same for both, and in Europe this is covered by BS EN 14081-1 and supporting standards. Visual strength grading works by assessing features such as the size and position of knots, the ring width, and the slope of grain. Machine strength grading methods have expanded from the original mechanical stiffness measurements (bending graders) to incorporate a range of sensing technologies including x-ray scanning, acoustic velocity, slope of grain and digital image recognition.


The strength classes achieved by grading depend not just on the quality of the timber, but also on the grading approach. Knowing what is possible for homegrown timber is useful, since habitual specification of the most common BS EN 338 strength classes (C24 and C16) may limit what can be done with homegrown timber – for reasons that do not have much to do with the ability of the timber to actually do the job. Visual Strength Grading Visual grading is carried out according to grading rules that are usually (but do not have to be) national standards (such

HOMEGROWN TIMBER as BS 4978 for softwoods and BS 5756 for temperate hardwoods). Assignment to a strength class is specific to a combination of grading standard and timber source. The assignments for UK-grown timber were established many years ago, but not all of them are listed in the European Standard BS EN 1912. It covers British spruce (a mixture of Sitka and Norway spruce), British pine (Scots and Austrian/Corsican pine), larch (European, Japanese and hybrid) and Douglas fir. The assignments for oak, sweet chestnut and large cross-section Douglas fir are instead in the British Standards Institute (BSI) published document PD 6693. Assignments repeated on other documents, including this one, should be checked against the latest standards since things can, and do, change. Because the current visual grading rules have certain predetermined thresholds of the visual criteria, the range of available strength classes is very limited. Visual criteria such as knots and slope of grain are typically not as powerful indicators of strength as people tend to assume, so the grading assignment is conservative on the safe side. However, since the visual grading approach is simple to apply it is still very useful, especially for smaller mills and less common species. Machine Strength Grading Unlike visual strength grading, machine strength grading is done by machines that have the ability to vary the grading thresholds to potentially grade to any strength class. This allows the commonly specified strength classes C24 and C16 to be targeted for any species, but the grading yield is not necessarily most efficient for those particular grades and the grade’s design properties may be quite a lot lower than the actual properties of the timber. As with visual grading, machine grading settings are specific to species (or species combination) and growth area. Listed below are summaries of current grading possibilities, but these do not necessarily correspond to what is available on the market. Indeed the large sawmills in the UK are mostly set up to grade a single grade with reject, and do so according to the maximum yield and majority market grade. Approaches to Timber Strength Grading One problem with the current system of strength grading is that it is well suited

02 to large sawmills grading a handful of the main species, but not well suited to smaller sawmills, especially when they grade a larger range of species, perhaps for specific building projects rather than the open market. It also, currently, cannot be used to grade recycled timber – or indeed even new timber that has already been graded (without reduction in cross-section as per BS EN 14081-1). This is true of both visual grading and machine grading, and is because grading works on populations of timber, rather than individual pieces. This is also why the grading is linked to species and source. Portable acoustic grading machines are small, simple to use, and relatively inexpensive. This makes them good candidates for smaller producers, especially when grading timber for specific buildings, rather than putting graded timber on the open market. Work at Edinburgh Napier University has been anticipating this in its development of special strength classes that make better use of the real properties of homegrown timber. These tailored strength classes now exist for spruce, larch and Douglas fir. On the other hand, many uses of timber do not have high requirements for the timber properties and for this there is a good case for a much simpler approach to grading. There is no need to reject timber that is perfectly adequate for the job, simply to achieve a familiar strength class that is higher than is actually


needed. Visual grading does not need to be so strict as we are used to, and a simple set of visual strength grading rules that can be conservatively applied to a wide range of species may be the way forward for minor species that are not commercial enough to warrant the usual, expensive, testing work to establish grading assignments and settings. While commodity strength classes are good for easy trade, it also makes sense to make better use of the real properties of the timber where possible – especially where the convenience of general trade is not needed. On the other hand there is also a case for a simple, conservative approach to allow timber to be used that would not otherwise be cost effective to grade. Strength grading is not about the grade itself – strength classes are simply shortcut ways of describing design properties. Many thanks to Dan Ridley-Ellis for his review and update of the original TRADA Timber Industry Yearbook 2020 article. www.trada.co.uk www.napier.ac.uk IMAGES: 01-02. Measuring timber and strength grading is based on data from mechanical testing. Courtesy Allan Shedlock, Edinburgh Napier University.





01 As timber supply has tightened in recent months, the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) has been keeping the construction industry regularly updated on stock levels and where the pressure points rest for timber merchants and those in the construction industry. The TTF says that Q3 2021 will be the most challenging yet for timber buyers. So far this year, almost all wood arriving in the UK has been pre-sold. As European sawmills often shut for maintenance during the summer, and as Europe is the source of some 80% of Britain’s construction timbers, even customers already on allocations may not be able to obtain all the material they may need. The Construction Leadership Council’s Product Availability Group has issued its own alert, highlighting the shortages of timber alongside many other common building supplies. Sweden is the biggest source of structural timber for the UK, providing almost half of all supplies. A recent statement from Swedish Wood





outlined that stocks are the lowest for 20 years, despite record rates of production, indicating the continuing strength of global demand. The UK has seen record imports of softwood in recent months. Levels of demand are outstripping the ability of producers to deliver to pre-pandemic timescales. Long lead times and planning ahead are the ‘new normal’.

as laminated veneer lumber (LVL), cross laminated timber (CLT) and also modified products like Thermowood claddings. However, these products all utilise the same wood resources and so are subject to very similar constraints on supply. Those seeking less-common materials such as hardwoods for green oak framing or more specialist projects are struggling to fill supply gaps. All categories of hardwoods from across the world are now observing shortages, though as yet not as acute as in the structural softwood sector. European and American hardwoods, including all varieties of oak, are in very strong demand. Supplies of European oak are already becoming scarce as buyers switch from declining American white oak availability. With hardwoods needing a long production time, supply is set to narrow further as we move into autumn.

Some timber-producing countries which traditionally supply into the UK have instituted log export bans, putting additional pressure on supplies. The Republic of Ireland is having its own internal difficulties over log harvesting, also impacting UK construction supply chains. Higher log prices are already being paid by sawmills at home and abroad – those higher costs are then passed through national and international supply chains. Many sawmills have been working at full tilt throughout the pandemic and maintenance is much needed. This will further impact the availability of structural timber over the summer. A statement from EOS, the European Sawmill Industry organisation, says the industry is taking the demand situation “very seriously” and is “working on solutions” including resource efficiency and productivity development. Many housebuilders are increasingly using engineered wood products such


Hardwood buyers are increasingly turning to African hardwoods though even here certain popular timbers are starting to develop supply problems. There are however many lesser used African and South American hardwood species which could prove useful if buyers in Britain would investigate alternatives. Container shortages, a legacy of the pandemic, are still affecting wider timber supplies, adding to cost pressures.

TIMBER SUPPLY Supplies of panel products for sheathing and flooring applications are greatly under pressure. Manufacturers are working hard to keep up with orders but there is little additional global production capacity which can quickly be brought on stream to cope with demand. Supply is set to remain very tight for the rest of 2021. The TTF is recommending that orders with suppliers are placed well ahead of time, with regular communication channels kept open, and recommends planning ahead for potential cost increases. Seeking early agreement of orders with clients to reflect longer lead times, together with being as flexible as possible with specifications and quantities required are also recommended. “The already tight balance between supply and demand is already

being made worse because there are insufficient heavy good vehicles available to get the wood out of UK ports and into UK customers yards,” says TTF Technical and Trade Manager Nick Boulton. The TTF is now urging manufacturers and those in the timber frame and trussed rafter sectors to consider the following actions: • Regularly communicate with your suppliers, as the situation develops over coming months • You should communicate early with your clients of any potential price rises, and long lead times, using the information produced by the TTF where necessary in these discussions • Make sure orders are being placed well ahead of time and planning for any potential cost increases when setting out the cost of a project. Where possible seek earlier

agreement of orders with clients to reflect longer lead times • Aim to work collaboratively with your suppliers and be as flexible as possible with specifications and quantities required. “It’s important to note that timber is not alone in this scenario,” adds Nick. “As the Construction Leadership Council has made clear, demand has outpaced supply across the board, which is affecting the availability of nearly all construction products.” www.ttf.co.uk

IMAGES: 01-03. UK timber and raw material supplies are suffering from shortages caused by pandemic, sawmill shutdown and global demand. Courtesy Södra Wood/OHRA/PEFC

NEW SUSTAINABILITY COMMITTEE SET TO SUPERCHARGE TIMBERS LOW CARBON POTENTIAL Timber Development UK (TDUK) is setting out to improve on the strong sustainability record of the industry in recent years by launching a new cross-sector Sustainability Committee. The Sustainability Committee will identify key sustainability issues that affect the specification of timber in construction and take actions to overcome them, whether developing information and guidance to cover these issues, or commissioning research. Already several key themes have been identified as requiring investigation, with sub-committees proposed to be formed under the direction of the main committee, including: • Embodied Carbon – gaining a better understanding of how embodied carbon should be accounted for within lifecycle assessments (LCAs) and environmental product declarations (EPDs), and the background research and evidence to back-up the claims on timber. • Circular Economy – how do we promote the use of timber in the circular economy, focusing on substitution of high embodied carbon materials, sustainable packaging solutions, and the circular products and services the industry needs to develop. • Responsible Sourcing – development of the Responsible Purchasing Policy to ensure all timber consumed in the UK is from verifiable legal and sustainable sources, to ensure we have a sustainable supply for the future. “We really want to encourage all TDUK members to support this new committee and contribute wherever they can, as it is a really exciting initiative which will lend greater insight, transparency and alignment right across the timber supply chain,” says TDUK Sustainability Director Charlie Law. “The experts we have gathered in this committee represent a potent force to create a positive difference in the global timber supply chain, with the UK both a major destination market for timber products and a hub of global expertise in building with wood. As a globally traded commodity and crucial building material, the timber industry holds the potential to allow us to overcome some of our most urgent global crises: whether you look to climate, biodiversity or elsewhere. “The responsible sourcing of timber is also essential to international efforts to preserve and restore our natural environment, better supporting biodiversity, and the livelihoods of people who depend on our global forests. We need to ensure we make the very best use of this valuable resource, ensuring the timber we do have is used efficiently, lasts longer, and can be repurposed into other wood-based products at the end of its initial service life, ensuring a fully circular resource.”

































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VOX POPS Our regular column explores some views and opinion from industry insiders, covering a few topical issues affecting the timber sector in a challenging business and construction environment.

Rod Allan

Eleanor Brough

Managing Director, Stewart Milne Timber Systems

Associate, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects



Q: Fabric First is central to successful timber construction and energy efficient buildings. What can be done to increase the use of timber across the UK built environment? RA: It’s been encouraging to see campaigns such as ‘Time for Timber’ highlight the benefits of timber. It raises awareness of the carbon embodiment potential of timber in construction, but we need to encourage more government procurement initiatives to encourage timber use across the built environment. We have long championed a fabric first, fit-and-forget construction approach and work with housebuilders to promote the benefits of offsite and use timber as a sustainable building solution. Our sector needs to continue to promote the benefits of timber frame as both a solution to the housing crisis and to developing zero carbon buildings. Q: A combination of factors are affecting timber supply in the UK. Will this ease with time and/or is this a vision of the future due to reduced forestry levels in the UK and globally? RA: The main issue affecting supply of structural timber in the UK has been a post-pandemic shortage of available stock, driven by unprecedented demand for DIY, garden improvements and home extensions. More softwood was imported into the UK in 2020 than there was during 2019 or 2018 and is expected to continue. Processing of structural timber across the globe is also increasing, which will see stock levels return to prepandemic levels. Working with timber suppliers who manage sustainable, responsible forestry operations is key to the growth of timber in construction in the UK, as the only truly renewable construction material. Q: Does the timber industry invest enough time and money in research and development (R&D) and providing innovative new products and solutions? RA: Collaboration throughout the industry is key in meeting these shared goals. We’re currently the lead partner on the Innovate UK funded AIMCH project to further discuss, trial and test new innovations and solutions, helping to deliver vital data for better decision-making, whilst supporting change and investment within the industry. Further support and investment, especially focusing on sustainability, is crucial to providing future solutions. We have been behind innovative products and solutions for many years. We designed, developed and built the Sigma Home, the UK’s first five-star zero carbon home, and led the triple award winning AIMC4 low carbon homes project.




Q: Fabric First is central to successful timber construction and energy efficient buildings. What can be done to increase the use of timber across the UK built environment? EB: In our experience, clients and contractors can be nervous about using construction methods they are unfamiliar with or that they mistakenly perceive to be risky or expensive. We always try to put forward timber as a structural solution but it often gets side-lined, without detailed analysis. However, communicating where timber has been used successfully and cost effectively on similar projects can play a huge part in challenging misconceptions. Good technical case studies with detailed cost and performance data along with early engagement with specialist contractors would help us incorporate timber in more projects. Q: A combination of factors are affecting timber supply in the UK. Will this ease with time and/or is this a vision of the future due to reduced forestry levels in the UK and globally? EB: I hope that the heightened awareness of the climate emergency, and a greater desire to build and live sustainably will mean that the shortages will ease and forestry levels will adjust to respond to demand. We work frequently with schools whose curriculums are based around the Forest School ethos, encouraging children to discover and learn in the natural environment. I believe demand and respect for our outdoor environment will grow and must be supported by industry. Sustainably and sensitively managed forests not only provide us with building materials from a renewable source, but support biodiversity and act as carbon stores. Q: Does the timber industry invest enough time and money in research and development (R&D) and providing innovative new products and solutions? EB: I can’t comment on how much money or time is invested but I can comment on perception. I think the timber industry needs to shout louder, to bring viable and innovative timber solutions to the forefront. We would like timber and timber composite structural solutions to be a meaningful part of the design conversation with contractors and clients as a default, in the same way as we often find masonry, concrete and steel are.

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Charlotte Hale

Business Development Manager, Stora Enso Building Solutions

Operations Director, SO Modular www.somodular.co.uk

www.storaenso.com Q: Fabric First is central to successful timber construction and energy efficient buildings. What can be done to increase the use of timber across the UK built environment?

Q: Fabric First is central to successful timber construction and energy efficient buildings. What can be done to increase the use of timber across the UK built environment?

RD: Firstly, we need more open knowledge sharing and readily available tools to help people design with timber and use it efficiently, in the right places. We have amazing projects happening all the time across the UK and we should be doing what we can to showcase this and illustrate that buildings like schools are possible – and have been possible for years. We are also seeing some fantastic progress with key stakeholders, where the industry is maintaining an open dialogue with insurers, warranty providers and developers to answer and provide insight on any questions they might have – as well as ensuring key industry stakeholders are connected with the network of professionals championing timber in the UK built environment. This sort of engagement is key for us to move forward as an industry and start creating systemic change.

CH: We believe that the Fabric First approach is increasingly important in the way buildings are designed and built in the UK and we support that philosophy completely, complemented by some of the other technologies that we believe also have a role to play. In order to meet net zero carbon targets by 2050 – ideally sooner – we believe the key to this will be governments and Housing Associations stipulating its use in building contracts and specifications. This, we feel, is the only real and most certain solution to ensure we save our planet and the human race.

Q: A combination of factors are affecting timber supply in the UK. Will this ease with time and/or is this a vision of the future due to reduced forestry levels in the UK and globally? RD: The Timber Trade Federation recently put out a thorough statement on why supply in the UK is so tight at the moment, including the fallout from the pandemic and its effects on both supply and demand. Without making any firm predictions, I think it’s reasonable to expect that some of those extraordinary market dynamics ease over time, and we gradually trend back to equilibrium. Q: Does the timber industry invest enough time and money in research and development (R&D) and providing innovative new products and solutions? RD: At Stora Enso, I think we do. We believe innovation is the only way forward. We need to innovate sustainably and with a human-centred mindset. This can be shown with our work in bio-composites creating circular solutions using wood for 3D printing, as an example. It can be seen with the range of new products and digital services we are putting on the market. I am very excited to see the future of wooden innovation – not just in construction but in range of industries such as packaging, textiles and consumer goods - there’s so much we can do with this material and now we have a market which needs these solutions.




Q: A combination of factors are affecting timber supply in the UK. Will this ease with time and/or is this a vision of the future due to reduced forestry levels in the UK and globally? CH: The factors affecting the supply of timber are complex and varied. Part of it is down to increased demand, driven in the main by the pandemic and the damaging effects it is having on our industry. We believe the situation will ease over time, however, we see it as essential to speed up the process of increasing the supply before our industry collapses and the situation worsens. We are working extremely closely with our supply chain and are doing everything within our power to minimise the effects in order to ease the current lack of supply. Unfortunately, this alone is not enough. Government investment in the reforestation of Wales and the wider UK is crucial to ensure adequate supply is available to construction, our economy and more importantly our planet. Q: Does the timber industry invest enough time and money in research and development (R&D) and providing innovative new products and solutions? CH: I cannot comment on the wider industry, but we certainly invest extensively in research and development and have an ethos of continuous innovation. This method of construction represents the future of construction and the built environment, but for that to become a reality and achieve its true potential, innovation and investment is required. It is an absolute necessity.


David Leslie

Michelle Richardson

Joint Managing Director, James Jones & Sons

Pre-Construction Director, Ideal Modular Homes



Q: Fabric First is central to successful timber construction and energy efficient buildings. What can be done to increase the use of timber across the UK built environment? MR: Firstly, I think there is an education piece needed across the industry to really sell and demonstrate the benefits of building from timber. The benefits are numerous and not limited to increased speed of construction, quality, embodied carbon and as a renewable building material. On average, buildings built using timber produce around 80% less carbon compared to those traditionally built. We also need to dispel misconceptions that exist in relation to fire safety. There is a perceived barrier to using timber as a structural material due to a lack of widespread knowledge of its abilities from a structural perspective. More needs to be done to create modules in university courses which cover the use of timber on a par with that of steel and concrete.

Q: Fabric First is central to successful timber construction and energy efficient buildings. What can be done to increase the use of timber across the UK built environment? DL: There has been a move away from traditional brick and block housing to timber frame and modular timber built panels. With the current challenges of resource and materials, large national housebuilders are starting to invest more in the use of timber products in place of less sustainable resources. There is now a vast array of different timber products from sheet materials to beam materials designed and engineered in different ways to provide excellent structural and insulation performance. Q: A combination of factors are affecting timber supply in the UK. Will this ease with time and/or is this a vision of the future due to reduced forestry levels in the UK and globally?

Q: A combination of factors are affecting timber supply in the UK. Will this ease with time and/or is this a vision of the future due to reduced forestry levels in the UK and globally? MR: The current supply issues are primarily a result of COVID-19 and Brexit. Over the prolonged lockdowns we have seen sawmills closed in the UK and around the globe, however the demand for timber in the domestic market has been high. This has meant that the healthy stock levels of timber have dwindled. Now that we are all slowly coming out of the pandemic restrictions and the construction industry is surging after months of projects being put on hold, the sawmills are now struggling to keep up with demand. Demand for softwood timber is forecast to continue to increase to 2025 and so constraints on supply and price inflation look set to be a continuing theme.

DL: This is a function of the increasing population. Increased wealth, particularly in developing nations and increasing the use of wood as a construction material. In the UK, product forecasts are fairly static in the short term but demand for wood is set to increase. Volume reductions in the medium term are a concern, particularly if commercial planting levels are not increased on a consistent basis over the next few years. Q: Does the timber industry invest enough time and money in research and development (R&D) and providing innovative new products and solutions? DL: Yes, there is a huge amount of investment into new product development in the UK and overseas with innovations such as glulam and CLT, particularly in Europe, with further development of wood as a product. Innovation is driven by government incentives and the pressures of climate change to achieving a net zero carbon economy. Wood based construction solutions also offer more innovative construction housebuilding solutions to reduce labour and improve health and safety in the future.

Q: Does the timber industry invest enough time and money in research and development (R&D) and providing innovative new products and solutions? MR: Unfortunately, the construction industry research that I am aware of all seems to focus on the ‘shiny’ topics such as sustainability technology like battery storage, renewable energy generation and the use of super materials like graphene combined with construction materials. This makes me question why there is very little interest in R&D into new products and solutions in the timber industry. Is this because there is a perceived limit to what timber can achieve or be used for? Is it because the next generation of material technologists and engineers are only interested in nanotechnology etc. or we need to be investing more money on marketing the timber industry to reignite some interest into R&D?

GET INVOLVED Do you have an industry issue you want to get off your chest? If you want to be part of a future Vox Pops panel or have any suggestions for questions and topics drop us a message at: gary.ramsay@structuraltimbermagazine.co.uk






01 RHS Garden Bridgewater is the largest gardening project in Europe with its new Welcome Building showcasing a number of different timber construction components and techniques to award winning acclaim. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is the world’s leading gardening charity, inspiring passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. In November 2015, the RHS, in collaboration with Salford City Council and Peel Land and Property, announced the vision to create the new garden at the site of the 154-acre Worsley New Hall estate. RHS Garden Bridgewater will become a major new tourism and horticultural destination which aspires to welcome and inspire up to 700,000 people a year within a decade.



The new ‘Welcome Building’ saw Hodder + Partners invited to design a new world-class visitor centre providing a gateway to the gardens as well as a visitor meeting and interaction point, restaurant, gift shop, offices and educational spaces. The Welcome Building has been delivered by BAM as the main contractor with HESS TIMBER providing the engineering, production and assembly of the structural timber elements. The Welcome Building is designed predominantly as one open space, allowing the visitor to flow between the various uses and functions: ticketing, a learning centre, retail area, indoor plant sales and café. All of these public elements are contained under a single overarching timber diagrid roof, supported on structural glulam timber columns, allowing the space to flex in response to seasonal demands. The roof structure consists of three different timber construction components: ‘cigar-shaped’ glulam columns, timber diagrid cassettes with diagonally arranged inner grillages and a straight


outer glulam timber rafters, as well as cross laminated timber (CLT) panels to tie the cassettes together. The sanded ‘cigar-shaped’ glulam timber columns rest on 16 reinforced concrete columns, each of which has a diameter of 450 mm. The glulam timber columns measure 3850mm in length and 300mm in width (in their centre) and are tapered to 200mm at both ends to ensure an attractive, filigree and light overall appearance of the roof construction. The columns are structurally relevant and support the entire roof, which measures 2160m in total. The timber diagrid consists of individual cassettes dividing the whole roof into 6m grids. Each individual cassette measures 6m x 3m and consists of diagonally arranged inner grillages and straight outer rafters which provide stability and bracing to the whole roof structure. Natural light permeates the building either through Siberian Larch louvred curtain walling or filters through the diagrid roof via two roof lights, one


02 running centrally 6m wide x 54m long and one 18m wide x 12m long creating a glasshouse environment. Sustainability is at the heart of the proposals and embedded in the work of the RHS, the building benefits from rainwater harvesting, green roofs, ground source heat pumps, underfloor heating and cooling and natural cross ventilation. The visually impressive use of timber as the material of choice in the roof construction provide a constant reminder of the environmental aims as well as sequestering an approximated 350 tonnes of carbon into the structure of the building. The timber used across in the project is the PEFC-certified and was manufactured with zero wastage production methods. State-of-the-art CNC technology ensure that the timber is cut to precise measurements with off-cuts reused for other purposes down in the value chain such as chipboards, pellets or bio-fuel power. 3D modelling was used extensively as an important tool in understanding complex junctions between structural components. A particular example would be the junction between the concrete columns, steel head connections and glulam timber columns. The 3D modelling was also used to communicate ideas, ensuring all structural, servicing and aesthetic requirements were met within very fine margins. Due to the very large timber components it was crucial to plan the production, logistics, preassembly and assembly just in time to reduce the installation period in total and to be able to handle the heavy components on-site effectively and without taking up too much space as around the building. High use of offsite fabrication minimised site set-up and reduced waste and kept the project within a very tight time schedule, with the whole roof structure installed within eight weeks.


04 Another key success factor for the overall sustainable and energy efficient approach all project participants had in mind was the high degree of offsite fabrication of timber components delivered to site. The smart and wellthought-out fixing of the cassettes to a whole 24m long unit with respect to the challenges of the assembly of such a structure benefited a quick assembly immensely and therefore minimised energy consumption compared to conventional on-site work. With the use of timber as the main roof construction material it has been possible to sequestrate approximately 350 tonnes of carbon into the structure of the building. Highly co-operative and collaborative team work allowed developing a precise programme based on HESS TIMBER’s wide experience to optimise delivery dates and to achieve continuous progress on site without significant interruptions. The high-quality surface finish demanded by both the building owner and the architects has been one of the most challenging parts. A milky white transparent varnish had to be applied to all the timber elements to get an even and very exquisite finish. While low in embodied carbon, the timber elements require only very minimal maintenance


throughout the building’s lifetime as the timber does not trap dust or dirt as for example a steel framed equivalent. The Welcome Building can be seen as exemplar in the holistic approach to meeting a range of requirements whilst delivering a sustainable and high quality spatial experience. The dramatic roof and flexible, column-free environment showcase the spatial opportunities available when using structural timber whilst also highlighting the sustainability of the building. This will be visible to an anticipated 700,000 visitors per year, increasing the understanding and acceptance of timber construction. As the building will be highly frequented both by locals and tourists the visual and constant display of timber can build confidence among all visitors towards timber in bigger structures. RHS Garden Bridgewater won Architect of the Year and Project of the Year 2020 at the Structural Timber Awards. www.hess-timber.com www.hodderandpartners.com IMAGES: 01-04. The Welcome Building is a significant timber and sustainable addition to the largest gardening project in Europe. Courtesy RHS/Hodder+Partners





01 technically advanced. As such, prepandemic, Lockerbie received a high number of visitors – including small groups of customer visits, customer training courses, academic institutions and industry events.

02 James Jones & Sons have completed a new visitor building at its flagship Lockerbie site that acts as a demonstration project erected from the company’s own products and an approach that minimises the use of steel and maximises timber. The Lockerbie site is the showcase sawmill within the James Jones Group. It is the largest single site sawmill complex in the UK and the most



The brief for the building was part functional and part aspirational. At a functional level, there was a requirement to provide office accommodation for up to 10 staff, a meeting room capable of holding up to 30 people theatre style, with the flexibility to hold classroom sessions and industry meetings and, in addition, a smaller meeting room, kitchen facilities and a reception area for visitors. The building also had to provide a view across the Lockerbie site allowing visitors the opportunity to see the sawmill in operation. James Jones & Sons held a design competition between two architectural firms and the winning team was Konishi Gaffney from Edinburgh, led by Kieran Gaffney. The building takes the form of two offset pitched volumes: a single storey office wing to the north and a two-storey volume to the south which houses the reception, meeting rooms and the conference space above. A simple, unheated, glass link building connects the new building to the old office. The first floor is raised to give panoramic views across the timber yard and over the constant stream of unprocessed logs to the mill, which is directly below this space. Loadbearing glulam beams were used throughout the building, while an unprocessed tree trunk provides loadbearing support to the backbone of the building.


The walls are formed with an innovative double-leafed, offset structure, using James Jones & Sons proprietary timber JJI joists, to minimise cold bridges. These extra thick walls, at 430mm deep, allowed sufficient depth to use environmentally friendly insulation with excellent thermal performance. Internally the material palette is restrained: white plaster, black framed Crittall-style doors and whitewashed oak flooring (the only hardwood in an otherwise softwood building). Douglas Fir has been extensively used in the interior for its stability and characteristic pink hue. The pitched roofs feature closely centred and very narrow Douglas Fir rafters, 160mm deep by 25mm wide that bring rhythm and warmth to the spaces. This pattern is echoed in the overclad reception wall and the balustrade to the staircase, top lit by the full length rooflight above. Externally Scottish larch was specified with black stained, narrow, vertical cladding on the lower storey of the building. Above this, the horizontal larch cladding is finished with a water-based silicate treatment that preserves the timber while accelerating and evening out the weathering. Taking all the timber elements into account, the building fabric has almost 40 CO2TE within it. The building’s environmental agenda goes beyond the extensive use of timber: an air source heat pump provides a renewable source of heating and summer cooling to the building. Speaking about the building, Rob MacKenna, General Manager at James Jones Lockerbie site said: “We are really pleased with the new building. The striking design and innovative use of solid and engineered timber products are a great example of how timber can be used to deliver high quality office and meeting areas. The main meeting room has been positioned to achieve a stunning view across the Stevens Croft site, enabling visitors to view part of our operations from the comfort of this space. We look forward to a time when we can welcome back groups of visitors and host them in this fantastic new facility.” www.jamesjones.co.uk IMAGES: 01-02. The Lockerbie Visitor Building has a striking design and an innovative use of solid and engineered timber products

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21-22 SEPTEMBER 2021


THE HOME OF OFFSITE TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION Explore: Offsite Technologies The case is unequivocal – offsite technology challenges outmoded construction practices and is a progressive and productive step that is set to revolutionise the way buildings are designed and assembled. Every major review of the construction industry has in some way recommended a move towards advanced factorybased construction methods.

The construction sector is at a critical crossroads offsite technology is now recognised as providing the most important solution to overcome many of the challenges facing the industry today. Bringing together the sector’s most influential innovators who are driving change in the construction industry, OFFSITE EXPO provides fast and efficient access to a wealth of knowledge and offsite innovation. By attending this one highly focused event, construction professionals can gain a broad spectrum of offsite industry intelligence and practical insight – all under one roof. Taking place at the Coventry Building Society Arena on 21 & 22 September 2021 – OFFSITE EXPO is the focalpoint of innovative building and digital



construction technologies. Presenting a compelling proposition, OFFSITE EXPO will feature a combination of advanced manufacturing approaches and smart digital construction technologies. With innovative displays, live demonstrations, and pioneering speakers – the event will play host to leading experts, offsite manufacturers and component suppliers showcasing a broad spectrum of panelised, volumetric modular systems, pod and prefabricated MEP solutions. The last OFFSITE EXPO exceeded expectations attracting almost 3,000 unique visitors, over 100 professionals with purchasing power participated in the Offsite Connect Buyers and Specifiers Forum, in excess of 100 exhibiting companies promoted offsite solutions and smart technologies and more than 40 hours of CPD Accredited presentations took place. The feedback was universal - OFFSITE EXPO was acknowledged as featuring the most informative and inspiring content.


This specialist offsite technology event is destined to become Europe’s largest dedicated event, providing direct access to explore this innovative and fast-moving sector. Get to grips with the latest offsite methods and smart digital technology – OFFSITE EXPO showcases the widest and most comprehensive display within the built environment including but not limited to: • Framing Solutions in Concrete, Timber and Steel • Modular Volumetric Systems • Bathroom and Kitchen Pods • Pre-engineered MEP Building Services • Prefabricated Building Components • Digital/ BIM/Augmented Reality (AR)/ Virtual Reality (VR) Expertise: CPD Accredited Masterclasses Presenting the optimum personal development opportunity – rapid and efficient access to the latest information is crucial to success. Advanced offsite approaches and innovative technologies are changing the face of construction, the Offsite Masterclass Theatres provide over 40 hours of CPD Accredited presentations in a dynamic and interactive format for those looking to learn direct from eminent offsite industry experts. For more information, visit: www.offsite-expo.co.uk/masterclasses

21-22 SEPTEMBER 2021



The Offsite Connect Forum is the most dynamic ‘meet the buyer’ business development opportunity of the year. OFFSITE EXPO exhibitors can gain access to key industry professionals with a buying or specifying remit. This Forum offers a structured, highly effective way for new and existing offsite industry suppliers to connect with potential customers easily and cost effectively in highly focused meetings. The greatest success of the 2019 event for many, were the business development opportunities secured in the Offsite Connect Buyers and Specifiers Forum, which was a hive of activity and open exclusively to exhibitors. With over 100 buyers and specifiers participating from high profile construction companies such as Mace, Willmott Dixon, Kier, Balfour Beatty, Galliford Try and the NHS – over 330 business meetings took place and feedback from both the buyers and exhibitors has been outstanding. Participating buyer, Julian Humphreys, Programme Manager at Community Health Partnerships said: ‘Offsite Connect was a very useful forum that enabled contact with organisations associated with the offsite market, and I established a number of new connections. The offsite market is expanding, and the event provided the ability to explore new opportunities and new products at a single location, making OFFSITE EXPO a very efficient and cost-effective method of networking.’ If you have influence over procurement or specification decisions and would like to take part in structured, highly effective meetings with new and existing offsite industry suppliers, email Jessica Holland on: jessica.holland@radar-communications.co.uk

2021 Exposure - Offsite Awards It is not only the exhibition that has exciting development plans, for the first time OFFSITE EXPO will host the dynamic and innovative Offsite Construction Awards at this new highprofile location. Taking centre stage, the Offsite Construction Awards will take place at OFFSITE EXPO on 21 September 2021. Since inception seven years ago, the Awards have been on an upward trajectory presenting professionals operating in the sector with outstanding opportunities to showcase excellence and network with those who are gaining industry recognition. For more information, visit: www.offsiteawards.co.uk Experience - The Offsite Event of the Year Showcasing the greatest display of offsite building and digital construction technologies under one roof, OFFSITE EXPO aims to attract circa 5,000 delegates and is geared towards

creating the ultimate visitor experience. New for 2021 and hosted by Cogent Consulting the ‘Ask the Expert’ guided technical tours will allow OFFSITE EXPO VIP visitors the opportunity to meet one-to-one with leading industry experts and discuss live projects and explore design efficiencies, engineering challenges and supply-chain development opportunities. OFFSITE EXPO is the place for people to engage with key industry contacts, acquire new knowledge and network in vibrant surroundings. Health and Wellbeing The health and wellbeing of all attendees, speakers, exhibitors and staff are the event organisers top priority. Measures are being put in place so that the exhibition and Offsite Awards can take place in a safe and controlled manner. Get Connected To join the offsite conversation, become a member of the Explore Offsite Linkedin Group: www.linkedin.com/groups/7456674 Or to stay up to date with the latest announcements – follow #OffsiteExpo on Twitter at @ExploreOffsite


Get involved as an exhibitor or sponsor With over 75% of the inaugural exhibitors and sponsors rebooking for the 2021 event, construction businesses are advised not to leave it too late to book promotional packages to ensure they maximise this highly targeted business opportunity. Here is just what one exhibitor had to say about OFFSITE EXPO: “We had an excellent couple of days exhibiting at OFFSITE EXPO. The quality of visitors and the seminars were outstanding. Great to make so many new contacts and what a way to showcase our Thrubuild® range of complete walling solutions. It was a thoroughly productive couple of days.’ Steve Thompson, Managing Director, EOS. For more information on getting involved in OFFSITE EXPO 2021 as an Exhibitor or Sponsor contact Amy Pryce on 01743 290001 or email: amy.pryce@radar-communications.co.uk



INSULATION Citu opted to install the blowing machine in phase one, which allowed them to manually fill the panels. Phase two saw the addition of the blowing plate, semi-automating the process.



02 Sustainable developer Citu has set out to create homes ten times more energy efficient than typical UK houses. To help with this, they turned to specialist insulation advice from Knauf Insulation. Citu’s products are created in its state-of-the-art production facility in Leeds, where all the components for its properties are built offsite. Thermal performance is critical to energy efficiency. Citu wanted to go far beyond the regulations to achieve wall buildups with an extremely low U-value of just 0.10W/m2K. This is at least three times better than the U-value achieved in most newbuild homes and fifteen times better than older houses.



03 Citu turned to Knauf Insulation for advice and support in developing the offsite capability required for this level of thermal performance. Knauf Insulation’s Technical Support Team undertook extensive calculations and recommended the Blowing Plate Insulation System to install Supafil Frame – a high performance, noncombustible blowing wool. Supafil Blowing Wool lends itself to offsite production because it completely fills the cavity, without any voids even around complex penetrations – something that can occur when insulation slabs or rolls are cut to size. It is also a dry process, so operatives are not exposed to any harmful chemicals and it doesn’t require a dedicated production line. Instead, the system comprises a blowing machine and a filling plate. The system is modular allowing for phased investment.


Supafil Frame can be run by a single operator, fits easily into the existing production line, and can even be moved quickly and swiftly to other areas in the manufacturing facility depending on Citu’s volume capacity requirements. Citu use an innovative timber framed system designed in collaboration with Leeds Beckett University to reduce carbon emissions at every stage. Citu homes are manufactured from timber panels with a 300mm cavity. The blowing plate is positioned over the panel completely covering the cavity. Supafil is then blown into the wooden frame to the specific parameters of each panel. All cavities are filled to the correct thickness; something that has been carefully calculated and tested to ensure settlement does not occur. And because the machine is programmed to install the exact quantity of insulation required, there’s no waste. Supafil is a high performance blowing wool. It is non-combustible with Euroclass A1 Reaction to Fire Classification rating as well as providing excellent thermal and acoustic performance. It contains a silicone-based additive to ensure it is water repellent. As well as providing excellent thermal performance, Supafil has great sustainability credentials. Knauf Insulation’s Glass Mineral Wool contains up to 80% of recycled content. This reduces the amount of virgin materials used and prevents around 60,000 tonnes of glass a year (350 million bottles) from going to landfill or polluting the environment. By combining offsite construction with the very highest levels of thermal performance, Citu and Knauf Insulation are creating homes that reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions and take newbuild homes to higher levels of energy efficiency. www.citu.co.uk www.knaufinsulation.co.uk IMAGES: 01-02. Supafil Frame can be run by a single operator, fits easily into the existing production line, and can be moved quickly to other areas in the manufacturing facility depending on volume capacity requirements. 03. Citu has been central to key redevelopments in Leeds and Sheffield.

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www.kopperspc.eu | kpc.uk.sales@koppers.eu |+44 (0)1628 486644 ™ Protim Solignum Limited trading as Koppers Performance Chemicals. Koppers is a registered Trademark of Koppers Delaware, Inc. Whilst every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information contained in this document, Protim Solignum Limited gives no undertaking to that eect and no responsibility can be accepted for reliance on this information. Information will be updated when the need arises. Please ensure you have an up to date copy. All products are produced by independently owned and operated wood processing facilities. All other trademarks are trademarks of their respective owners. Koppers Performance Chemicals, Protim Solignum Limited, Fieldhouse Lane, Marlow, Buckinghamshire, SL7 1LS. Visit: www.kopperspc.eu, Email: kpc@koppers.eu, Call: +44 (0)1628 486644, Fax: +44 (0)1628 476757. Registered in England 3037845. © Copyright 2020.

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Long established as pioneers in developing and manufacturing highperformance machinery for the offsite housing market, Sweden-based Randek are now ready to expand into the UK.

plasterboard. These lines also lend themselves to produce timber and light gauge steel components for modular and volumetric buildings.

Randek UK is a joint venture with Randek AB – based in Falkenburg and Arvika Sweden and have been specialists in providing production automation for prefabricated homes since the 1940s. Driven by sustainability targets, labour shortages and the requirement for large scale house manufacturing, the new arm of the company will offer complete lines for walls, floor cassettes, roof cassettes, trusses and saw solutions. These will range from simple, light automation manufacturing lines through to the cutting edge robotic ‘Zero Labor’ system – this automated operation handles the complete production for open and closed walls including board handling, nailing, drilling, milling, gluing, screwing, stapling and automated recycling/waste handling. The production lines are suitable for a range of materials used in panelised timber frame systems such as OSB and



An increased demand and move from the government to use more modern methods of construction (MMC) for building sustainable homes, has resulted in technology being at the heart of future home production. The UK’s housing requirements continue to grow and currently Government targets of building in excess of 300,000 newbuild homes per annum, plus stringent 2050 net zero carbon emissions targets, have resulted in companies looking to offsite manufacturing for the answers. To maintain and improve its services and support, Randek has set up a UK-based company with personnel spanning more than 30 years relevant experience. As sales and product requirements vary from country to country, and each region requires a dedicated local sales and service support, it was felt that now was the right time to open a UK facility. Also, with the expected level of automated systems over the next decade set to increase, this local support is essential for customers. “Randek intends to supply an improved and very expanded service to the UK market,” says Gordon Young, Director,


Randek UK. “Our customers from the housebuilding sector, those who have invested in their own offsite manufacturing facilities or specialist suppliers of timber or light gauge steel components, will find Randek machinery very robust with installations still running perfectly well 20-30 years post-installation.” The UK office will fulfil several key functions including sales and service in accordance with UK customer requirements, alongside locally based installation and technical backup for UK and Ireland customers. “Now’s the time for manufacturers to invest in the future,” adds Gordon. “New manufacturers need to invest in ‘best value’ to ensure they get a good return on their investment. Our UK company can also assist with modelling and impartial advice on many subjects including which fastening systems and products are best suited to your requirements and target output.” Randek treat all customers as ‘partners’ and work with them to support and provide solutions to suit their individual plans and growth for the future. “The basic working principles we offer can be adapted and customised to many individual requirements,” says Gordon. “Such as changing the degree of automation to fit the desired output requirements. It is important to us to know and understand the customers, changes in the market and innovate with our customers to continue being the pioneers in the industry.” www.randek.com

IMAGES: 01-02. Automated production lines guarantee quality and can be customised to customer requirements

TIMBER FRAME PRODUCTION LINES Randek are pioneers in developing and manufacturing high-performance machines and systems for prefabricated house manufacturing.

Randek Products and Services: • • • • • • •

Timber Frame Wall Lines Truss Automation & Equipment Floor and Roof Cassette Automation Saws Butterfly & working tables Fully Automatic or Manual UK Service & Maintenance Support

• Nailing/sawing/ handling of noggins/ blockins to stud

We lead the way in the innovation of production lines ranging from light automation through to Robotic Zero Labor systems.

• Stud straightener before nailing of sheets to ensure nail hit the stud

Randek production lines for prefabricated house manufacturing are not just the most automated in the world but are also the most flexible. Providing fully automated production lines as well as manual and semi-automatic. The system can be configured from small compact solutions to full production lines with high output. We constantly adapt our products and services to suit both customer and market. Contact us at sales@randek.com

• Sawing of sheets

Automated processes:

• Milling of sheets

• Nailing

• Sheet cut to right width

• Feeding framework

• Feeding of membrane

• Stud feeder

• Nailing of sheets

• Crown check of wall/ stud

• Squaring of wall elements

• Drilling of stud

• Cutting of merged multi walls

• Handling of sheets

• Drilling top and bottom plate

• Stacking to predefined stack according to software

• Marking top and bottom plate

• Transport between stations

• Trim cut of studs

RANDEK UK sales@randek.com www.randek.com






GEOMETRY LESSONS FOR IBSTOCK The refectory is wrapped in a cloister of sheltered passageways. Soft stock brick and plain clay roof tiles reference the existing adjoining buildings, conferring longevity and an established presence within the grounds. Its articulated form allows glimpses of the trees between roofs that, as in a Lutyens’ country house, were designed with low eaves to maximise internal volume whilst containing the massing. An intricate timber roof structure conveys intimacy and grandeur to the interiors, where natural light and orchard views bestow a calm and contemplative quality upon the warm, convivial space. Rising to three glazed lanterns, the roof supports a simple natural ventilation strategy and defines the uses below.

01 Maccreanor Lavington recently completed a refectory at Ibstock Place School, an independent, co-educational day-school for over 1,200 four- to 18-year-old pupils in south-west London, after winning an invited competition in 2016.



The building replaces its conservatorystyle, ‘acoustically flawed ‘predecessor at the heart of the landscaped school campus with three simple attached volumes. It trebles the previous area on the same footprint, containing versatile dining space, a full commercial kitchen, a sixth form study and generous basement stores. The design honours the importance of lunchtimes in supporting pupils’ social and emotional development: re-imagining the grand tradition of the banqueting hall, it provides a functional and flexible space for the celebration of communal school life.


To create an interior that was celebratory whilst warm, welcoming and comfortable to use, we naturally looked at timber – both as a structural element and as a finish. In our practice we enjoy using wood, because of its low carbon qualities, visual warmth and character; and because of the quality and programming benefits that prefabrication of timber components can offer. As the largest element the building, the roof’s geometry and construction were a focus for aesthetics and performance in which the use of timber became instrumental: working with structural consultants engineersHRW we developed a structure that provides a clear order and scale to the building’s volumes. The refectory’s ceilings are defined by a striking spruce glulam lattice structure, with oak panelling insets incorporating acoustic absorption. The glulam elements are constructed on a diamond grid, although, structurally, they owe much to a traditional cut timber roof.



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EDUCATION prior to erection of the timber pyramids resulting in a clean boundary of contractual responsibility. “The roof pyramids were erected by supporting the upper ring-beams with scaffold and installing the four corner rafters by dropping the end of the timber beneath its final position and rotating it to ease the timber into place. The use of the scaffold afforded sufficient tolerance to position these elements and, once installed, the roof could then support its own weight while the remainder of the glulam was infilled.”


03 Designing the Roof “There is a hierarchy of elements with the primary rafters spanning between a steel ring-beam at the eaves and a timber ring-beam at the lantern or the corner rafters’” says Greg Nordberg, engineersHRW. “The primary rafters support secondary and tertiary elements that form the rest of the lattice. The secondary elements are sized to match the primaries, providing the desired pattern within the space. Using the rafters as a two-way spanning diagrid was also considered in detail. This format reduced the stresses on the individual members however the more onerous connections meant equivalent sized sections would be required. Overall, the hierarchical approach was just as efficient and more economical. The stiffness of the roof geometry and the truss action of the roof were considered with separate models to provide an envelope of forces for element design and examine alternative load paths for disproportionate collapse.’ Between the deep rafters sits a subsidiary grid of smaller glulam sections. The striking graphic



arrangement of the rafters into this ‘tartan’ provides a rational and attractive framework for oak batten infill panels with acoustic backing, which were prefabricated and fully finished offsite. The geometry was developed to limit the panels to just four different shapes across the building and make them a manageable size for manual handling. These elements have simple screwed connections, whereas the primary and secondary timbers use concealed hangers or galvanized flitch plates, depending on their load requirements. The bolt holes and flitch plates were plugged and packed to conceal the installation. The millimetre precision of the glulam allowed for the development and construction of complex connections, enabling the assembly of roof pitches set to different angles. These connections formed the interface between the timber roof and the steel structure that supports them. The galvanised plate connections were developed by engineersHRW and specialist contractors Constructional Timber considering both the structural requirements and the ability for the large timber elements to be installed. Installing the Roof “The timber-faced steel ring beam at the eaves was used to achieve depths that could be incorporated within the wall and provide an angled reveal that matched the primary rafters,” adds Greg Nordberg. “This element has higher loads than the rafters as it is shared by both roofs, and a timber ring-beam here would have appeared significantly out of scale. The steel ring was surveyed


Andrew King, from Constructional Timber adds: “With the restricted site access all deliveries were arranged using rigid vehicles only, which was challenging when the hip-beams were nearly 11m long and weighing 1.2 tonnes. For the installation sequence it was key to fix the level of the lantern beams off the temporary loadbearing scaffold supplied by the main contractor. The lantern beams were levelled to the correct height before the twin hip-beams were craned into position. The members were all supplied fully protected and with their fire treatment applied so to reduce site time and potential for damage.” Ensuring long-lasting harmony in the different timber finishes – spruce glulam structure, oak timber linings and joinery and oak engineered wood floors – was important. We were keen to control the aesthetic over time and were mindful that the softwood glulam would redden from sunlight exposure. We wanted to avoid the space adopting an orangey ‘sauna’ look and a strident contrast with the more muted hue of the aged oak finishes. For this, we worked closely with timber coatings’ company Renner to do accelerated ageing of the different glulam finishes in a lab, developing a white tinted fire-proofing finish that would remain UV-stable. www.maccreanorlavington.com

IMAGES: 01-03. The refectory’s ceilings are defined by a striking spruce glulam lattice structure, with oak panelling insets and glulam elements constructed on a diamond grid


Multiple offers are now common Make your best offer straight away and earlier than the competition. If you are waiting to hear from your offered candidate you probably went too low. Salaries are too low - No one had a pay review last year and many accepted a drop. This needs correcting to avoid leavers. Lower salaries will not be put up with for much longer. Review, or risk losing people. There is a lot of variation currently, which will be covered with our next Salary Guide.

02 The world changed last year, and we all reckon we have a better handle on it now. The trouble is it keeps changing and it may be changing faster than your expectations. Counter offers are back - We see this more than ever. Employers caught napping, not looking after staff or not sorting out pay reviews will lose people.

Delay kills recruitment processes Don’t delude yourself that good candidates will hang around for you. Recruiters are bemoaning this across LinkedIn and we see it ourselves. We have addressed this with our ARVIEW solution incorporating advanced video interview tech to speed up the process. Scarcity is back - The skills shortage eased a bit in 2020. Now with offsite growing at pace, skills are in short supply and this will get tougher than ever with a lack of overseas candidates.

Time to think more broadly - A growing industry cannot just shuffle the pack. You need to consider candidates from different sectors who can cross with least effort and training. Many can successfully move into quite different roles – when we look at the backgrounds of some of our best candidates they often originated in a different sector. Treat candidates with respect at interviews - We are moving to a candidate short market and a world where respect and wellbeing is now recognised better. You need to sell your culture, company and opportunity as well as treating candidates as a valued friend. The competition is after your people They are approaching them on LinkedIn and anywhere else, via in-house recruiters and agencies. It is a fact ignored at your peril. Keep facilitating flexible working - We are seeing companies moving staff back to the office without really explaining why. Flexibility will help keep and attract people. Why not survey your staff asking where and when they would like to work? www.arvsolutions.co.uk

Better Recruitment from the the market leading Recruiters ARV Solutions clients are experiencing successful vacancy fill rates at 89% with our retained ARVIEW™ solution (May 2020 to May 2021). It's not just about video interviews.... Get in touch today and reap the benefits of Be�er Recruitment!

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01 Joe Giddings, Projects & Campaigns Director at the Alliance for Sustainable Building Products (ASBP) new Timber Accelerator Hub, explains how some of the complexities surrounding timber and insurance can be addressed. Despite its many well-known advantages in terms of carbon, waste, speed and quality of construction, mass timber faces multiple challenges that are preventing it being adopted as the primary structural material for most medium and high-rise commercial and residential developments. Unfavorable changes to regulation have combined with high costs or lack of availability of insurance. With widely held doubts and misconceptions around fire performance persisting amongst insurers, many developers are reluctantly reverting back to concrete or steel – so what’s the solution?



02 The Timber Accelerator Hub (TAH) was launched earlier this year by the Alliance for Sustainable Building Products (ASBP), in partnership with the Laudes Foundation, to help develop solutions to these complex challenges alongside timber industry partners including Swedish Wood & Timber Development UK. The TAH’s steering group brings together expertise from insurance, fire engineering, cost consultancy and sustainability, and couples this with timber industry knowledge. This collaborative approach is the starting point to developing initiatives to not only increase the uptake of mass timber but do this in a way that helps improve building safety and durability. I was brought in as Projects and Campaigns Director for the TAH in April, drawing upon my experience from establishing another collaborative network, the Architects Climate Action Network (ACAN). Since April we’ve been building connections and developing a number of working groups in order to scope out the issue from different perspectives. We’ve been speaking to developers, brokers, insurers and architects amongst


others to understand exactly what the problems are and to begin to address them. Insurance providers’ reluctance to provide cover rests upon the relative lack of data in terms of premiums and claims specific to mass timber buildings. Data from the 1,000 or so mass timber buildings that have been completed in the UK exists in silos within different insurance companies, with no obvious solution as to how to pool this. One broker pointed out that: “insurers’ data is their intellectual property – their datasets are what gives them the edge over competitors”. Set this against the backdrop of a ‘hardening’ insurance market in recent years, where the cost and availability of insurance has been increasing across the board, and construction materials such as CLT, DLT, glulam and LVL begin to look unattractive for insurance providers, leading to huge hikes in premiums or cover being removed completely over a certain threshold, as the risk appetite of insurers decreases. Chase Underwriting International have responded to this situation with the announcement of a UK Mass Timber Construction Insurance Facility, which

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INSURANCE STRUCTURAL TIMBER: FOCUSING ON THE FACTS The Time for Timber campaign has released a white paper that aims to help insurance companies understand the vital role they play in supporting the construction industry to achieve net zero status by 2050. Founded with the ambition of challenging misconceptions in the insurance and financial sectors about structural timber, the Time for Timber campaign seeks to highlight the material’s numerous sustainable benefits and underlines the need to increase its use if we are to stand any chance of preventing the environmental crisis that we face today. Recently, there has been an increasing reluctance to back timber projects by some insurers – yet, as the long-term impacts of climate change become more widely felt, insurers are increasingly realising the value in supporting such low carbon construction methods. Unfortunately, some uncertainties still remain – and the white paper is an attempt to address this balance by providing a credible source of factual information and research. Reiterating the environmental, economic, health and well-being benefits that structural timber has to offer, the white paper also expresses a real desire to work with the UK’s insurance sector to further its understanding, using international examples to demonstrate that timber is a widely recognised and viable structural material. Andrew Orriss, Chief Operating Officer at the Structural Timber Association (STA), says: “While we still feel that the Government’s net zero targets are achievable, we are rapidly running out of time. We have spoken to many insurance companies and there is a genuine interest in supporting timber projects, but the lack of clear and reliable information is hampering this effort. The hope is that this white paper will help us to engage with insurance companies, so that we can close the gap between misinformation and the facts before it is too late.” For more information and to download the white paper visit: www.cutt.ly/timefortimber_whitepaper

will fill the gap in the UK construction insurance market with a viable policy that matches the needs of developers wanting to utilise mass timber products in their projects. Through the facility, commercial projects between £10-60million in value can be covered, supported by multiple insurers each taking on just a small slice of the risk, with Chase Underwriting managing that spread of risk.

a broker at AJG, we’re convening a forum to communicate the latest in fire engineering, testing and best practice to a large group of the UK’s leading property insurers, to assuage doubts, provide reassurance, and address concerns. We have a number of sessions planned for the coming months which we hope will begin to turn the tide in property insurance for mass timber buildings.

Chase’s facility is a smart solution that patches over part of the problem, and we encourage interested clients, developers and contractors to get in touch to learn more. Construction insurance is however only half the picture. Beyond this, a further challenge awaits the UK property insurance market. Amongst property insurers there is clearly a need for an increase in understanding regarding the performance of mass timber structures when exposed to fire and water during their lifetimes, as well as a need to pool any existing claims data on the UK’s existing mass timber buildings. Together with Dominic Lion,

Ideas abound for longer term systemic solutions: from the achievable aim of mass timber specific regulation to more imaginative solutions such as a structural timber ‘captive’ insurer (an association of large developers providing coverage for themselves to allow for greater flexibility) and even a Government-backed reinsurer. We’ll be looking to other countries such as France, Austria and Canada to understand how policy instruments can support the adoption of mass timber, and we’re closely watching the development of innovative concepts such as Waugh Thistleton’s ‘new model home’.




There’s a lot of work being undertaken right now by proponents of mass timber in the UK to demonstrate its safety, sustainability, quality and performance. Our role at the TAH is to bring this together to unlock the use of mass timber in construction. If you’d like to contribute your thoughts, we’d be delighted to hear from you. You can contact Joe Giddings at: joe@asbp.org.uk For more information on Chase Underwriting International’s UK Mass Timber Construction Insurance Facility contact Philip Callow at: Philip.Callow@chaseunderwriting.co.uk or Brad Green at: Brad.Green@chaseunderwriting.co.uk www.asbp.org.uk

IMAGES: 01. Joe Giddings, Projects & Campaigns Director at the ASBP 02-03. Timber’s role in construction is constantly under scrutiny

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Profile for Radar Communications

Structural Timber Magazine - Issue 27 (Summer 2021)  

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