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SUMMER 2020 www.timbermedia.co.uk ISSN 2515–8686 (PRINT)

MOVING MODULAR MAINSTREAM  26 We speak to SO Modular’s director Charlotte Hale about timber, modular construction and creating a sustainable, low-carbon built environment. RESPONDING TO CHALLENGING TIMES  12


The TTF on the two subjects dominating the timber headlines in recent months: the Coronavirus pandemic and the combustible materials review.

The installation of Brimstone timber has transformed an old grain store into an exciting new workspace showcasing the best of British timber.

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The UK’s No 1 producer of engineered wood panels





News........................................................................................02 The latest news and views from across the industry.





Responding to Challenging Times..............................12 More from the TTF on the two subjects dominating the timber headlines over the last few months: the Coronavirus pandemic and the combustible materials review.

Sylva Wood Centre Gets Brimstone Facelift.............16 The installation of Brimstone timber at the Sylva Wood Centre has transformed an old grain store into an exciting new workspace showcasing the best of British timber.

Towards Interactive Construction...............................21 According to Digi-Capital there will be 3.5 billion augmented reality (AR) users by the year 2022, with construction one of the many industries having to change the way it designs and build.

A Space for Inspiration.....................................................23 Architectural practice O’DonnellBrown has designed and built a prototype for an outdoor Community Classroom that is an adaptable and demountable learning environment for schools and community groups.


Triumphal Arcs....................................................................25 A new unique curved modular timber unit offers a range of customisable options and displays the best of offsite methods and sustainable low energy construction.

Moving Modular Mainstream.......................................26 SO Modular has been growing rapidly since formation in June 2018 on the back of a growing demand for timber and modular construction in the UK. We spoke to director Charlotte Hale to find out more.

Exploring the Potential of Modular Construction.....28 Rory Doak, UK Business Development Manager for Stora Enso Building Solutions, on the strengths of timber and modular design.

Managing Editor: Terry Hanlon

Registered address:

 terry.hanlon@timbermedia.co.uk

73 Cross Lane, Newton-Le-Willows,

 01925 270093

Merseyside WA12 9QA

Artwork: Pete Awad

The Shape of Timber Things to Come .......................30

 artwork@timbermedia.co.uk

Company registered in England and

The TRADA University Challenge 2020 winners were announced earlier this year and again showed the potential talent that could be entering the timber design and build community soon.

Follow Timber Media:

Wales. Company Number 10839173.

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MATERIAL HANDLING SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR INDUSTRY Combilift is the leading supplier of customised handling solutions with guaranteed improved storage capacity, safer product handling and increased productivity.

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BoKlok UK appoints TopHat to deliver first UK homes

BoKlok UK, the sustainable, quality low-cost home provider, jointly

consumption and IKEA fittings. All homes will be BOPAS (Building

owned by Skanska and IKEA, has announced that it has appointed

Offsite Property Assurance Scheme) certified.

technology-driven modular housing manufacturer TopHat, to help deliver part of its first product offering in the UK.

Graeme Culliton, BoKlok UK Managing Director and Country Manager said: “We are delighted to be working with TopHat. We share

The five-year contract will see TopHat work with BoKlok to

the same ambition to bring innovation and sustainability to the UK

manufacture two and three-bedroom houses. Like all BoKlok

housing market, which means attractive and good quality homes for

developments, the homes will be made from timber frame and will

people on average incomes.

feature key BoKlok characteristics such as natural light, low energy

“Our two companies complement one another well, with TopHat bringing its high levels of automated manufacturing expertise and BoKlok having over 20 years’ experience developing and manufacturing over 12,000 homes in the Nordics. As we venture into the UK, we believe that TopHat will contribute to our long-term vision and success, to provide quality, low-cost homes, using sustainable materials and modern methods of construction.”




TopHat is a technology-driven modular housing manufacturer, aiming to revolutionise the digital construction industry, from housebuilding to commercial property. TopHat was founded in 2016 and commenced production in early 2018 at its state-of-theart manufacturing facility in South Derbyshire. TopHat technology can design and build high-quality homes in just 10 weeks (average


timeframe) and takes around two weeks to assemble on-site. Jordan Rosenhaus, Chief Executive of TopHat, said: “BoKlok is a


leader in MMC and we are extremely proud that it has selected TopHat


based on the quality of our work. TopHat’s cutting-edge technology platform underpins our manufacturing processes and enables us to deliver quality and consistency at lower cost. We look forward to working with BoKlok, as they deliver their first homes in the UK.” Design work is well underway on BoKlok’s Bristol and Peacehaven developments. Subject to planning permission, sales to home buyers


are expected during the second quarter of 2021. K

To date, BoKlok has developed about 12,000 homes in Sweden, Finland and Norway. BoKlok homes are completed offsite in a safe and dry environment using a smart, industrialised process. This enables


predictability, high-quality and low costs. BoKlok, having the most satisfied customers in the residential sector in Sweden 2017 and 2018, now aims to set new customer satisfaction standards in the UK




More at  www.boklok.co.uk  www.tophat.io

s a l e s @n p st ru ct u r es.co .u k | w w w. nps t ruc t ure s . c o. uk | +4 4 ( 0 ) 1 2 8 2 8 7 3 1 4 8

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Keeping your building envelope safe in challenging times


AXIL 3000



Use biocides safely. Always read the labels and product information before use.

A Proctor Group say that while BS 5534 and BS 5250 address membrane requirements, they do not take into account sites being closed for over three months due to Covid-19 lockdown. Whilst most membranes are weather resistant for three months, the best advice is to cover as quickly as possible with the primary water shedding layer. This is an accurate action to take, as in extreme cases of weather water ingress may occur. What happens when external

Designed with the future in mind, Bio- Based Axil Solutions respond to current challenges related to the environment

factors mean that this advice cannot be followed, and roofing or walling membranes are left exposed over the suggested maximum period? Does it mean the membrane has to be stripped and replaced before the outer layer covering is installed? The three main characteristics which are important to the longterm protection and performance of the roof or wall are MVTR (Vapour Permeability), water holdout and airtightness. Proctor Group membranes have been tested quarterly for 12 months during 2019, with all of the above factors tested periodically. The results showed the membranes main attributes are robust enough to maintain performance in all categories, preventing the expense of stripping and replacing when sites open again. We are confident of their longterm durability and robustness, and the results proved interesting, especially in the current climate, where a lack of finished roof covering or rainscreen façade may leave these membranes exposed for longer


periods. Roofshield roof tile underlay was tested after nine months

Axil Color Collection is a wide range of marking dyes and decorative color additives for treated wood.

exposure, and still passed the European water hold of a W1, to EN 13859 Part 1. It maintained its vapour permeability consistently over a 12-month period. Wraptite, a fully self-adhered, airtight, vapour permeable underlay for walls and roofs maintained its vapour


permeability and airtightness throughout the year. Its water hold-out for walls of W2 also remained for 12 months, which was tested to EN 13859 and W1 for over six months. Roofshield and Wraptite both


maintain the key characteristics for the life of the building when the final covering is applied when sites reopen across the country. More at  www.proctorgroup.com

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© May, 2020 / Adkalis / Reproduction forbidden / Photos credits: stock.adobe.com



Furniture to full home a possibility

SMARTPLY OSB3 has been used to provide sustainable, structural

forests right here in Ireland. SMARTPLY OSB3 was the perfect solution

support and flooring in a series of innovative building projects

to offer the structural support my designs needed.”

looking to address environmental concerns with a new solution for the modular building industry.

Optimising the design for offsite manufacturing is another way in which this project is truly optimised for sustainability. The element

Garvan de Bruir, traditionally a furniture maker, has created a series

of control that offsite manufacturing offers, coupled with minimal

of self-build structures that are now the workshops for his design studio

disruption to construction site surroundings are two vital criteria that

DE BRUIR, in Kildare Town, Ireland. “As a furniture maker, my core skills

have made sustainability advocates become offsite advocates.

lie in working with timber,” he explains. “I wanted to see how far these

The unique design of each building is inspired by a monocoque: a

skills would take me when applying it to housebuilding, rather than

structural system where heavy loads are able to be supported through

furniture making, and if I could offer any new or innovative step into

an object’s external skin, similar to an eggshell. In Garvan’s design, the

timber building. With wood as the common material, it is easy to simply

outer walls curve up and over to become the roof, as a single seamless

scale up techniques and construction methods from furniture and

arch. Their benefits of a monocoque is that they are very lightweight,

cabinet-making into building design.”

but extremely rigid and able to bear heavy loads - great design criteria

“Some years ago, I built a small single-story building to try out

for modular buildings, sections of which would have to be transported

the technique. After that proved successful, I moved on to building a

from factory to site and craned into place. “The intention is to refine

larger two-storey version and created the first prototype prefabricated

the design of these buildings into something suitable for large scale,

building. These buildings only featured SMARTPLY OSB3 as the flooring,

offsite production. Each component is able to be reproduced, and the

but the next self-build showroom had a much more comprehensive

building put together like a simple jigsaw,” added Garvan.

use of SMARTPLY OSB throughout. This gave me a much better

MEDITE SMARTPLY, owned by Coillte, the Irish forestry company

appreciation of its properties. Currently, I’m working on a full-sized,

which owns and sustainably manages over 7% of Irish forests,

two-bedroom dwelling which is all prefabricated in SMARTPLY OSB3.”

guarantees that all of its panels are sustainably produced from only the

Using digital design and manufacturing methods, the objective was

thinnings of fast-growing pine trees. The entire SMARTPLY OSB range is

to design and build a modular building that could be replicated over

also manufactured with no added formaldehyde, for the peace of mind

and over again: a building that would offer warm, energy efficient living

of both the craftsmen who work with the boards, and the eventual

spaces, built from sustainably produced timber that is entirely locally

building occupants. Garvan hopes to complete the house towards


the spring of 2020. Meanwhile the existing buildings are in daily use

“It was important to me that locally sourced materials were used for

creating the collections for his studio DE BRUIR.

the project,” says Garvan. “I like that the MEDITE SMARTPLY factories More at  debruir.com  www.mdfosb.com

are relatively close, and that they use timber from sustainably managed

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Summer 2020



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STA publish new fire safety guidance The Structural Timber Association

library of documentation provides

(STA) has collaborated with the

comprehensive guidance,

Construction Scotland Innovation

information and recommendations

Centre (CSIC), the University of

on system specifications and good

Edinburgh and BRE to produce

practice principles when using

‘fire safety in use’ guidance for

timber frame construction.

timber frame buildings. The STA has

In addition to the extensive fire in

invested in an industry-leading fire

use research of timber frame systems,

in use research project, to test and

the STA identified that the installation of

prove commonly-used timber frame

fire stops and cavity barriers are of equal

wall, floor and roof make-ups used in

importance when it comes to building

the UK marketplace.

safety, an issue which prevails regardless

The output of this research – a

of the building methodology. The STA have

pattern book of EN tested systems – is

responded by developing a new guidance

believed to be the first of its kind in the

document on cavity barriers to complement

UK timber frame sector. Timber frame

the existing information. This research, which

construction has a proven track record of

has been supported by Swedish Wood and

mainstream compliance and longevity and is a widely recognised offsite

Scottish Forestry, has been endorsed by several industry and government

construction system, offering many benefits, including low carbon, cost

stakeholders. The pattern book of systems provides a unique reference

effectiveness, quality, speed and regulatory compliance.

library of information for clients, specifiers and STA members to use with

The EN-tested systems and best practice recommendations provide a comprehensive package of information, for the design, specification

confidence. The information will be regularly reviewed and updated by the STA Technical Committee and Board.

and construction of timber frame buildings. This research now forms More at  www.structuraltimber.co.uk

part of the STA’s library of fire in use best practice guidance. The STA

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French timber stands tall A new hybrid timber and concrete tower is under construction in

the built environment – not only in France but in the UK and across the

Bordeaux and could prove to be symbolic of France’s commitment

world – is to build more durable structures using higher quantities of

to using structural timber. Hypérion will be a mixed scheme of

sustainable timber. The Hypérion tower is the perfect example of how

apartments offices and shops, designed by architect Jean-Paul

this can be achieved.”

Viguier and built by Eiffage Immobilier using structural HEXAPLI cross laminated timber (CLT) supplied by Piveteaubois.

France recently made a progressive, sustainable construction move, with President Emmanuel Macron stating that any new public buildings

Hypérion will be the tallest timber residential tower built in France

financed by the French state, must contain 50% wood or other natural

and is situated at the centre of the Saint-Jean Belcier district of Bordeaux,

materials by 2022. As well as timber and wood-based material, this can

that is undergoing regeneration and a vast urban renewal programme

also include options such as hemp and straw and any organic material

including the construction of a new TGV (high speed train) station.

that has a significantly lower embodied carbon footprint, compared to

Eiffage Immobilier are building the 16-storey tower, with a floor

competing construction materials such as concrete and steel.

area of 17,000sqm, including 5,000sqm of timber flooring. The

The proposal aligns with France’s Sustainable City plan launched

82-apartment building will be constructed around a concrete core with

in 2009, and President Emmanuel Macron’s drive for the country to

engineered wood floors supported by a timber beam structure. The

be carbon-neutral by 2050. As well as an ambitious government plan

shell will consist of locally-manufactured, fully-finished timber framed

for a greener urban life, the country and Paris in particular is under the

walls. Taking its name from the largest tree in the world, the Hypérion

spotlight as the host of the 2024 Olympics. The new law encourages

timber tower is 55m high and comprises 1100m3 of CLT and 130m3

the use of ‘bio-based’ materials in the construction of the 2024 Paris

of glulam with the building’s backbone built using HEXAPLI CLT from

Olympics complex, with any building in the development rising more


than eight storeys to be built entirely from timber. The proposal hopes to

With high volumes of material required and the primary aim to use

make the 2024 Paris Olympic Games the most sustainable Olympics yet.

locally sourced timber, Eiffage Immobilier turned to Piveteaubois as

Speaking to Le Figaro, French Minister for Cities and Housing

the only serious contender with production of 50,000m3 of engineered

Julien Denormandie said: “We made this commitment for the Olympic

timber per year and 50,000m3 capacity for CLT production – exclusively

Games. There is no reason why what is possible for the Olympic Games

in French timber. The Hypérion tower is set to save 14.7 tonnes of

should not be possible for everyday construction.” Denormandie’s plans

carbon emissions per apartment, an amount equivalent to that released

to make France’s construction industry more sustainable, follows a

by a small car covering 206,000km in urban conditions.

number of other eco-friendly initiatives in recent months in response

“We are very proud to be involved with this landmark project and

to the growing effects of climate change, including Parisian plans to

supplying HEXAPLI CLT,” said Elisabeth Piveteau-Boley, Director UK &

go greener by planting ‘urban forests’ around its many architectural

Ireland, Piveteaubois. “The Douglas fir used for the CLT is all sourced


locally and being PEFC-certified is guaranteed to be from legal and More at  www.piveteaubois.com

sustainable forests. The only way to achieve the decarbonisation of

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Summer 2020



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50,000 M3/YEAR OF CLT AVAILABLE IN PINE, DOUGLAS FIR & SPRUCE. PIVETEAUBOIS won the 2019 WPA Innovation award for their HEXAPLI CLT panels with use class 2 durability performance combined with a water repellent treatment to significantly reduce water absorption on all surfaces.



Treatment options : UC2 - UC3.2 (green, grey and brown) or UC4 (green or brown) pre-pressure treated glulam for exterior use (structural or playground equipment). Non-visible rim board glulam for timber frame manufacturers.

FOR AN ELECTRONIC OR PAPER COPY OF OUR CATALOGUE Timber Construction Magazine Summer 2020 www.timbermedia.co.uk 07 please contact : elisabeth.piveteau@piveteau.com +44 (0) 7821 807 788

 @Timber_Media

P I V E T E AU B O I S .CO M / E N

PIVETEAUBOIS - Lieu-dit La Vallée - Sainte-Florence - CS 30111 - 85140 Essarts-en-Bocage - RCS 547 250 100 00054



Ashden Award finalists demonstrate positive climate innovation Proven solutions are crucial to sustaining

“To survive and build momentum at this

and assembled like a jigsaw. South Yorkshire

momentum on climate action during the

difficult time, innovators need commitment

Housing Association has used the system

Coronavirus crisis, Ashden CEO Harriet

from policymakers and investors. Our longlist

to create attractive, low-cost, locally-made

Lamb has said, announcing the 2020 Ashden

highlights two crucial similarities between the


Award finalists. The energy and climate

climate crisis and the Coronavirus pandemic

NGO recently revealed 22 organisations

– those already vulnerable are most at risk,

transformative climate solutions and build a

delivering green buildings, transport,

and community action is key to any effective

more just world.’ Through a range of awards

sustainable cooling and energy access in the


and programmes, Ashden promotes and

UK and across the developing world. Harriet Lamb warned that global climate

Key construction themes from this

Ashden’s mission is to ‘accelerate

supports climate and energy innovators –

year’s shortlist include an ambitious, holistic

including businesses, non-profits and public

progress is at risk as governments struggle

approach to tackling sustainability challenges

sector organisation. Ashden was founded in

to control the coronavirus pandemic, saying:

– including delivering ultra-efficient

2001 and is based in London, with a network

“While fighting Coronavirus is rightly the

Passivhaus homes, the power of data and

of 225 past winners and numerous partners

world’s priority, the climate crisis continues. As

machine learning to radically cut energy use

stretching around the world. Ashden Award

we emerge from global lockdown we have to

in local authority buildings plus how open-

winners receive a cash prize, development

ensure that we fashion a green reboot of our

source software has created a radical new

support, and the chance to connect with

economies and societies, one that puts the

model for localised, flexible housebuilding.

investors and leading figures in the energy

values of community and compassion centre-

Open Systems Lab is the developer of the

and climate sectors. Winners will be revealed

stage. It’s more important than ever that

Wiki-house system, which allows buildings to

this summer.

we find, fund and replicate effective climate

be designed digitally – parts are then created

solutions that also tackle inequalities.

using simple timber-processing machinery

Timber Construction Magazine

Summer 2020


More at  www.ashden.org


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Nick Milestone makes move to Katerra Nick Milestone, the current chairman of TRADA and former managing director of B&K Structures has been appointed Director of Mass Timber at US timber disrupter Katerra. He will focus on integrating mass timber production with Katerra’s operations. Before Katerra, Nick was the director of offsite manufacturing at the William Hare Group and the managing director of B&K Structures. Nick said: “My role will focus on working with our commercial building platforms team to fully integrate our mass timber production within Katerra’s end-to-end process. Our team will help establish one model to efficiently service Katerra’s end-to-end new build, AEC professional services, and third-party sales of cross laminated timber (CLT), while supporting full production at our Spokane Valley Factory. “As the largest CLT factory in North America, Katerra is making a significant contribution to the supply of mass timber in this market. Katerra is also applying

consistent quality. It’s exciting to be part of a company that will play a

technology at its factory in an interesting way to optimise production

critical role in ensuring that the U.S. and Canadian mass timber markets

speed, efficiency, and quality. This includes the use of geometric and

can accelerate as European markets have already.”

biometric scanning, advanced panel algorithms for layup placement, More at  www.katerra.com

and whole-building temperature and humidity control to optimise

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Traditional tree topping at Manchester’s Mansion House ‘House by Urban Splash’ reignited the ancient tradition of ‘topping out’ and held a traditional tree topping out ceremony at the top of its Mansion House apartments in celebration of the completion of the main structure of its groundbreaking sustainable housing concept – a first for Manchester. The event took place at New Islington Marina, Manchester and the topping out ceremony encompassed the age-old tradition of placing a tree on the building and toasting the success with a beer – a nod towards the Netherlands and Flanders builders of old who received beer from the building’s owner upon completion. The new waterside apartments which overlook New Islington Marina have been created offsite in a factory in Bilbao where each building is created as a series of cross laminated timber (CLT) panels. As a much more sustainable material than traditional options like steel and concrete, the panels have been transported to the UK and assembled on site here in Manchester, by a small specialised team and Manchester construction partners Artez. The ceremony welcomed many guests who braved the traditional Manchester rain, enjoyed the amazing views over the city and enjoyed some delicious Basque food and drink. As well as using offsite construction, keeping waste to a minimum and ensuring accuracy, the CLT gives the homes a unique look. Providing a stunning aesthetic, the exposed CLT forms the main structure as well as the internal walls and ceilings, whilst importantly providing a highly rated insulation performance throughout the year – keeping the homes cool in the summer and cosy in the winter. From its beginnings in Northern Spain, where the Radiata pine is grown in sustainable forests with PEFC certification, the wood has its own passport which advises which area and year it comes from. Speaking about why it’s tradition to place a tree on the building Urban Splash’s Jonathan Falkingham explained: “It’s long been a construction convention to place a tree on the roof of a new building,

Islington’s Cotton Field Park. As with other ‘House by Urban Splash’

followed by a celebratory beer or two and we’re happy we’ve brought

homes, the environmentally innovative homes give customers the

this back to Manchester. The tree is symbolic of the incredible design,

choice to create the space they desire, with nine flexible apartment

construction, people and materials that have been used to create

options on offer.”

these exciting modular homes. The Mansion House apartments boast More at  www.urbansplash.co.uk

incredible dual-aspect views, including over the Marina and New

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W Exhibition announce new 2021 dates The W Exhibition the UK’s flagship event for the joinery and furniture manufacturing industries, has been postponed until 26th 29th September 2021. The W Exhibition 2021 will follow hot-on-theheels of LIGNA in May, around which many industry brands plan their new product development cycles. Many of our exhibitors will now, for the first time, be able to focus NPD for the UK market around their participation at The W Exhibition. After an extended period of global uncertainty, this is your opportunity to reconnect with your market in a way like no other marketing platform. Over 70% of the stand space has been sold, which is the strongest indication of the importance placed on this industry platform. The W Exhibition 2021 Campaign is set to be bigger than ever. Exhibitors will receive unrivalled support to help maximise their campaigns and drive the best ROI, including: •

An audience of 9,000+ visitors who are coming to see your products and services

A well-oiled marketing machine working hard behind the scenes to deliver the right audience for our exhibitors

• •

“The W Exhibition is more than a four-day event – this is a year-

Access to marketing and PR support via a dedicated Exhibitor Hub,

long brand awareness campaign which you need to be part of. Take

complete with branded assets and content to use in your campaign

your place alongside your peers at the UK’s only dedicated furniture

Sponsorship opportunities throughout the event to build

manufacturing and joinery industries event.”

awareness for your brand •

A chance to contribute to our brand new CPD learning programme

You can view the 2021 Floorplan and find out more about exhibiting

tackling key industry issues.

at  www.w-exhibition.co.uk

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Responding to Challenging Times Two subjects dominating the structural timber headlines over the last few months have been the Coronavirus pandemic and its impact but also the review of the ban on the use of combustible materials and what the ramifications could be for timber in construction.


cross both areas the Timber Trade Federation (TTF)

Covid-19 secure’ poster that businesses can display to confirm to staff

and Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) have

and visitors they have undertaken risk assessments and implemented

been supportive of its members and the timber sector

necessary actions, is also available online to download and use.

as a whole and keeping everyone aware of the latest

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that the direct

developments alongside guidance and advice in what has been a fast

cost alone to the government of the response to Covid-19 could rise

moving and ever-changing period of societal and business upheaval.

above £100 billion in 2020-21. In the construction industry, the CPA

As the national lockdown has started to loosen, construction sites have

Construction Scenarios (Spring 2020) report projects a 25% decline in

been returning to action and ‘reports are business remains steady’.

construction this year, before a 26% rebound in 2021. The CPA Market

“It is positive that with many of the larger sites reopened, by value,

Impact Report stated that as of 27 May 2020, 23% of merchants were

more than half of the sites which had been shut down have returned,”

fully open, 76% were partially open and only 1% closed, which is a

said TTF CEO, David Hopkins. “Of course this return needs to be

considerable difference compared with April when 16% of merchants

understood in the context of the implementation of safe site operating

were fully open, 46% were partially open and 39% remained closed.

procedures. Businesses are managing the risks of Covid-19, and as could

The other key topic of conversation has been the possible

be expected, this means there will not be a uniform reopening of sites.

ramifications on building regulations in a post-Grenfell world.

The main message for business from the Government is that in

Government has been seeking views on the ‘ban of the use of

order to commence or continue operation they must comply with

combustible materials in and on external walls of buildings’, with any

new ‘Covid-19 Secure’ guidelines. “These critical new guidelines

resulting changes set to make construction of newbuild residential

have been developed by the Health and Safety Executive and Public

property with a floor above 11m (approx. four storeys) problematic.

Health England in consultation with industry bodies, local authorities

Due to the Covid-19 scenario, consultation was extended to the 25 May

and trades unions,” adds David Hopkins. “There are eight standalone

and results are expected in the Autumn.

documents concentrating on different aspects of the workplace and

One of the concerns which emerged from the Grenfell Tower fire

each is designed to help businesses undertake the necessary risk

was how quickly flames were able to spread across the surface of the

assessment within that aspect of their business.

building. This occurred due to the external combustible cladding and was

“It is important to appreciate that many workers will be anxious

not related to the structural walls. There is no evidence that structural

about the practicalities and safety of a return to work and so each of

walls pose the same fire risk as the external cladding. Originally set at

the documents includes sections addressing some of these concerns.

18m, for the timber industry – and the whole supply chain working in it –

Businesses should also consider the demographic of their specific

this could potentially mean the specification of engineered timber such

workforce, their individual circumstances and vulnerabilities. A ‘staying

as cross laminated timber (CLT) being heavily curtailed.

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Summer 2020



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Enhance your floor’s performance with Finnjoist I-beams (FJIs) from Metsä Wood. Whether used as floor beams or roof rafters, you’ll need fewer Finnjoists than traditional softwood timber beams for strong, lightweight, efficient construction. Find out more at www.metsawood.co.uk

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Summer 2020



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 SCOTLAND & BS8414 New building standards in Scotland ban combustible external cladding on buildings down to 11m, however they differentiated between the external and internal surfaces of the wall. The legislation continues to support scientific testing and continuous improvement by recognising BS8414 as fit for purpose in demonstrating compliance. In Scotland, BS 8414 is recognised as an ‘alternative route to compliance for external wall cladding systems having a European classification of A1 or A2 for all buildings with a storey at a height of more than 11m, as well as any assembly and entertainment, hospital and residential care buildings of any height’. Timber frame is a well-established, sustainable building method used in 83% of new builds in Scotland. A common set of standards in this area for the construction industry in the UK, can enhance building safety by extending a ban on combustible cladding to 11m, while recognising the importance of structural timber. More at  www.ttf.co.uk  www.gov.uk/guidance/working- safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

The TTF and CTI has pushed all sectors of the timber industry to respond to the consultation in a collective effort to make the government see some sense. “Almost two years ago, the Government conducted a consultation regarding the use of combustible materials in and on the external walls of buildings over 18m in height,” says David Hopkins. “This focused mainly on the role of cladding and preventing the spread of fire over large surfaces in light of the disaster at Grenfell. In many people’s minds it became known as the ‘combustible cladding’ ban. “Both then and now, we continue to support the efforts of government to make buildings safer. However, we believe that safer buildings in the long term will only come through an evidence-based approach. One of the key points we raised at the time

a proper fire-risk assessment during the design stage is far more

was the need to differentiate between the external cladding and the

important for identifying high-risk factors and introducing appropriate

structural elements of walls. If the Government does want to make


buildings safer this distinction is essential.

“The current ban is causing confusion and disruption to the

“Amidst the political clamour for a ban, these calls were disregarded

construction industry through the arbitrary banning of safe, robust

when they were first made, and we have since seen a significant impact

products’ says David Hopkins. “A ban violates the established principle

on the use of CLT and mass timber as structural elements. Now the

of setting functional requirements for safety rather than specifying

government looks set to repeat the mistakes of the past by extending this

materials. Material requirements may lead to unsafe constructions

ban down to buildings of 11m in height. The TTF and CTI have requested:

made of approved materials being used in place of safer constructions.

Focus the ban on combustible cladding above 11m. This will

and sustainable building designs, which make use of these materials,

provide the clarity needed for designers and specifiers to build

being discriminated against. Examples can be found in CLT and

better and safer

closed timber frame building techniques, where the material is often

Take a scientific, evidence-based approach. Use BS8414 as the

encapsulated in other construction materials, such as plaster board and

base for fire safety compliance, which was found to still be fit for

non-combustible materials, and where there is evidence to demonstrate

purpose in the Hackitt Review

they behave very differently from other standard timber products.

“It will also lead to perverse outcomes, such as safer, more efficient

Align the combustibles material ban to the Scottish approach.

“Conflating the external cladding with the structural wall is causing

This will create a common regulatory approach to combustible

confusion in the industry and undermining the credibility of this review

material throughout the UK improving clarity and safety.

and the ban on combustible materials. Making such a change to the ban would also bring us into line with regulations in Scotland, which banned

Height is not the greatest indication of fire risk, nor will it provide a complete indication of how a building will perform in a fire. Having

Timber Construction Magazine

Summer 2020

combustible cladding above 11m, but do not include the structural wall in the scope of the ban.”



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Great British Wood Support British woodlands by using British wood. We produce cladding, beams, flooring and sawn hardwood, all from locally grown timber. 01793 853 281 | vastern.co.uk |

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Sylva Wood Centre Gets Brimstone Facelift

The installation of Brimstone timber at the Sylva Wood Centre has created an impressive research and display area as well as helping to transform an old grain store into an exciting new workspace showcasing the best of British timber.


he Sylva Foundation aims to help Britain’s trees and

Irving. “The team at Sylva have for many years been great supporters

woodlands thrive. The renovation of an old grain store

of the Brimstone project,” said Vastern Timber Managing Director

provides a vast new space for their work, creating a

Tom Barnes. “In fact the Sylva Centre can lay claim to having the very

new facility for woodworking enterprise, innovation

first batch of thermally modified British hardwood after their original

and skills training. Vastern Timber donated cladding and joinery

building was clad in thermally modified British ash and sycamore. We all

material in return for the opportunity to set up a long-term test

saw this project as a great opportunity.”

and display facility for their Brimstone range of thermally modified British timber.

The Grain Store is clad on three sides with British larch feather-edge cladding, selected because it is locally grown, naturally durable and

Vastern Timber supplied over 100m2 of Brimstone to the project,

importantly for this project affordable, with the front elevation clad in

split between the ash, poplar and sycamore varieties, and each was

Brimstone. The first thermally modified British ash and sycamore were

installed using a different fixing system by Sylva Centre tenant Rodas

installed at the Sylva Centre in 2015. Since then, Brimstone has been

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Summer 2020



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rigorously tested both in the lab and on-site. All three species have achieved Class 1 Durability for out of ground use in lab-based testing and mechanical tests have demonstrated a minimum of 50% improvement in dimensional stability. This new installation of Brimstone cladding and joinery

The Grain Store is clad on three sides with British larch feather-edge cladding, selected because it is locally grown, naturally durable and importantly for this project affordable, with the front elevation clad in Brimstone.

at the Sylva Wood Centre is the latest step in testing, observing and fully understanding the characteristics of this innovative material. During 2018 Vastern Timber invested in

the Sycamore which had the hand-nailed fixing as we were able to use

an Environmental Product Declaration and an in-depth lifecycle analysis

the horizontal battens as an accurate guide for the position of the nails.

to establish the full carbon impact of the three Brimstone species. In

The quality of all the timber was very good indeed. I think we only had

2019 they installed a weathering station at the yard in Wootton Bassett

one piece that had to be put to one side out of the whole lot of around

to gather information about the natural weathering processes of the

500 pieces. There were very few pieces that had any defects – the odd

timber on different elevations.

piece with a minor split. Most pieces were straight, a few had some

Both the cladding and the joinery will be monitored over time and

spring but this was easily corrected as we nailed in place.

the lessons learned will contribute to the growing body of knowledge

“The Ash tongue and groove was perhaps the trickiest to put up,

and advice that can be offered to architects and specifiers for projects

just because you have to fit one piece into the other. It could split

of the future.

when nailed if the grain was angled or we nailed a bit close to the

In addition to the cladding, Vastern Timber worked with George

edge. The Sycamore has the most interesting grain pattern and looks

Barnsdale to produce timber-framed windows and doors made of

really beautiful. The Poplar was the easiest to fit. We purposely did

Brimstone ash for this project. This is the first commercial site to house

this fairly rapidly with a second-fix nail gun into both the lap and the

joinery made from Brimstone timber. The Brimstone ash was primed

face of the boards just lining things up by eye. Everyone who came past

and painted using advanced technologies at George Barnsdale, giving

commented on how good it looked.”

the best protection from the elements.

The renovation of the Grain Store increases capacity, providing

The Brimstone cladding was supplied in three versions. All were

more space for woodworking businesses and for skills training to

installed vertically to offer variation to the original thermally modified

be delivered at the centre. The Grain Store hosts the MicroFactory

timber cladding that was installed horizontally. While it was important

for “designers, makers and proto-typers and new or small creative

that the main elevation looked attractive and consistent, It was also

businesses that want to work in a rural setting but with a city buzz.”

important to include a range of Brimstone types, cladding profiles and

The Grain Store is now almost unrecognisable from its former state

fixing systems to maximise the opportunity to learn from the project.

with many visitors convinced it is a newbuild.

“Fitting the battens accurately paid dividends later on in the More at  www.vastern.co.uk/old-grain-store-brimstone

process,” said Rodas Irving who worked on the project. “Particularly for

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Summer 2020



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Conversations about Climate Change Design Competition – Join the Conversation OPEN CALL: 1st June – 24th August 2020


he Timber Trade Federation has announced

emission reduction needed for mitigating the worst impacts of climate

a Conversations about Climate Change Design

change. However, tropical forests have often been undervalued and


cleared for agricultural development, rather than sustainable timber

Conversations about Climate Change is a specially


commissioned design competition, exhibition, and event series providing a platform for urgent climate debates.

Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) is the UK and EU’s Action Plan to combat illegal logging, subsequent trade and

Setting the challenge of creating ‘conversation’, the Timber Trade

deforestation, and instead introduce forest monitoring, auditing, multi-

Federation is calling for innovative, playful, and thought-provoking

stakeholder dialogue and engagement with local communities. This

designs from architects, designers and craftspeople.

landmark shift in governance and procurement means FLEGT licensed

The Timber Trade Federation, in association with the Building Centre in London, will showcase winning designs in tropical timbers from sustainable

timber is a safe, legal and responsible form of timber which will help keep forests standing.

sources to demonstrate the importance of this natural resource.

We want more countries to engage in these Governance reforms and start producing FLEGT licenced timber. Engaging designers and

The Context

creating high value markets is one way to do this.

2020 had been designated a super year for climate conversations with COP26 scheduled to take place in November. Now postponed due

The Challenge

to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the battle against climate change remains an urgent threat to humanity.

Conversations about Climate Change sets architects, designers, and craftspeople the challenge of creating ‘conversation pieces’ from responsibly sourced tropical timber.

Image credits: EFI EU FLEGT and REDD facilities

Sustainable forest management is an essential solution to the

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Summer 2020



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We are asking designers to respond to this material and to consider how their role as a specifier is vital for implementing change. The ‘conversation pieces’ could be furniture, sculpture, a model or functional design object – anything, as long as it stimulates a conversation about material provenance and its place in the climate debate, drawing inspiration from the palette of tropical hardwood species selected.

The Competition Six winners will be chosen by an expert judging panel to be fabricated for the show. All winners will be provided with sustainably sourced FLEGT tropical hardwood and a £1,000 maker’s bursary. The winning designs will be created using tropical hardwood species from the fifteen countries engaging with the FLEGT Action Plan, through the Timber Trade Federation’s members. All entrants will have their designs exhibited in an online gallery and a shortlist will be displayed in the exhibition at the Building Centre in London in November, timed to mark the original date of COP26 and highlighting the vital role for tropical forests in the climate debate.

To enter, find out more, and read the supporting resources, visit: www.buildingcentre.co.uk/climateconversations The competition opens 1st June and closes 24th August 2020. The six winners will be announced at the beginning of September.

Supported by the Department for International Development

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Summer 2020



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Grow your business with Timber Media Timber Media Ltd, publisher of Timber Construction magazine, is delighted to announce the launch of our brand new e-marketing service for advertisers. With over 4,500 timber industry business professional contacts, we can send your bespoke, solus e-newsletter to top decision makers in our industry... but be quick, the service is limited to one e-newsletter per week which will be mailed on a Monday to our mailing list. A second e-newsletter will be sent the following Thursday to engage contacts who opened but did not click the hyperlinks. You’ll then receive a statistics report for the two e-newsletters the following Monday.

All for a set price of only ÂŁ500 (+vat) Our e-marketing service begins the first week of February. To book your slot today email terry.hanlon@timbermedia.co.uk

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Summer 2020



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Towards Interactive Construction According to Digi-Capital there will be 3.5 billion augmented reality (AR) users by the year 2022, with construction one of the many industries adopting this immersive technology and changing the way that companies design, model and build.


R is blurring the line between the physical site and

different structures with pre-prepared BIM models. They can also

virtual design,” says Ian Barnes, Head of Business

capture shots of complex structures and retrieve vital information on

at SITECH, the UK & Ireland’s leading distributor of

enabled devices, before sharing this with colleagues on sites elsewhere.

Trimble® technology. “With AR-enabled devices at

AR software enables site managers and engineers to visualise the

their disposal, site managers can project 3D constructs over existing

different phases of construction and highlight any issues that could

landscapes and design their projects with more accuracy than ever

arise throughout the process so any adjustments to design and build

before. AR provides the ability to conceptualist in-field design that

can be made in advance.

impacts from the planning stages through to the completion phase

According to Independent Project Analysis Group, over 35% of

of a project.

construction projects experience a major

“The role of AR in construction begins

design change. Although not every project

with the initial planning stages. Whether

requires extensive alterations, changes can be

you’re working on a small commercial

needed to prevent misalignment and other

design or a large infrastructure scheme,

issues from occurring. With 3D modelling

AR can display the project’s impact on the

and other interactive software, you can

surrounding landscape and provide an

visualise structures to see how features fit

accurate view of layers and other installations.

in. For instance, BIM software can be used

With AR technology, designers can plot

to monitor any issues with the architecture

complex designs and geometries using

so that you can change the design before

building information software (BIM) to

materials are ordered and tasks allocated to

generate detailed 3D models. For instance,

your workforce.

Crossrail began life as a digital 3D model and

This way, AR technology can help you save

contractors could access this information

money and avoid costly rework rebuilds that

to help them with their work. This was

put you behind schedule. The three and a half

particularly useful in the early building stages,

billion AR users in 2022 will include many site

once the designs had been finalised.”

managers and project designers, who will be

Site inspections are often done manually

improving their accuracy and making their

and usually require more than one person,

construction process more efficient.

particularly with larger sites. Inspectors More at  www.sitechukandireland.com

are now using AR technology to compare

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Summer 2020



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 EXPANDING HORIZONS In late 2019, Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) launched its Future Skills Strategy to put future generations in the driving seat for innovation in the industry. The new strategy will put the technology that’s unlocking innovation in the sector in the hands of school pupils, college and university students as well as industry leaders.

in construction, Mimbus woodcutting and paint spraying modules and

Building on the success of the BIM in Practice and College

the Virtual Building Element Environment (VBEE). In VBEE, users will

Innovation programmes, a range of interactive courses and activities

be set a task to build either a house, an industrial unit or an offsite

will help to widen participation and educate young people about the

modular building, and will be presented with a range of scenarios. The

career opportunities available within the industry, and what those roles

decisions they make during the process, including the selection and

might look like in the future. Rohan Bush, Head of Public Partnerships

use of materials, technical specifications, and processes used, will be

& Future Workforce, at CSIC said: “Simply telling young people that

presented and evaluated on completion. This programme, which is

they could have a great future in construction isn’t that effective.

funded by CITB and led by Construction Wales Innovation Centre, can

But let them play with the tech that will be part of that future, and

be used not only by young people considering a career in construction,

they come back wanting to know more. We are really excited about

but also apprentices and workers already employed in the industry.

this new strategy and the opportunities it offers. The increased

Virtual reality helps to give learners a thorough overview of all

use of digital technologies is changing how we work, and gives real

aspects of a project and also helps to foster a culture of collaboration,

opportunities to work smarter, efficiently and more sustainably. The

understanding and appreciation of other roles and the impact they

new programmes also offer those currently working in the industry

have on each other. These programmes are especially important as

the opportunity to expand and develop their skills and knowledge.”

the industry looks to drive productivity and growth, and create a

The Construction Virtual Reality Training (CONVERT) will also

workforce that is innovative, dynamic and globally competitive.

offer learners the opportunity to experience different immersive More at  www.cs-ic.org

learning environments including working at height, the use of drones

Let sleeping dogs lie with Norbord’s super-quiet flooring Norbord’s CaberFloor P5 – the UK’s most specified chipboard flooring product, has been upgraded to produce a high performance floor with reduced impact and airborne noise transmission. Called CaberAcoustic, the new product comprises 18mm or 22mm CaberFloor P5 chipboard with a 10mm acoustic felt layer permanently bonded to the underside. Designed as a floating floor laid over an existing deck in either new-build or refurbishment applications, CaberAcoustic is installed with the tongue-and-groove joints glued with CaberFix D3 adhesive and all perimeters of the panel sealed with acoustic flanking strips. When fitted to an existing floor in a conversion or refurbishment application, CaberAcoustic is overlaid onto the existing deck and a Hush Sound Absorber layer fitted between the joists with Hush Resilient Bars screw-fixed to the underside of the joists at 600mm centres. The addition of two layers of 15mm Soundbloc plasterboard to the underside of the resilient bar and all perimeters sealed with an acoustic sealant prior to skimming, ensures that the floor structure complies to UK Building Regulations Approved Document E for separating floor constructions in refurbishment and conversions. In new-build applications, CaberAcoustic is laid in a similar manner (T&G joints glued and the perimeter sealed) over a 18mm or 22mm chipboard deck but a Hush-MF system should be applied to the underside of the joists to create a void of at least 150mm from the underside of the joists to the back of the plasterboard lining. A double plasterboard layer comprising a 19mm plasterboard plank and 12.5mm Soundbloc completes the system. Both ceiling structures also provide one hour’s fire protection. Norbord CaberAcoustic boards are 2,400mm long x 600mm wide and are available in 28mm and 32mm thicknesses with standard TG4 edge profiles. They come in packs of 40 (28mm) or 36 (32mm) sheets. For further information, call 01786 812 921 or visit www.norbord.co.uk

Timber Construction Magazine

Summer 2020



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A Space for Inspiration

Glasgow-based architectural practice O’DonnellBrown has designed and built a prototype for an outdoor Community Classroom that is an adaptable and demountable learning environment for schools and community groups.


he entirely self-initiated project has been developed

Jennifer O’Donnell, Director, O’Donnell Brown, said: “Using our

in parallel with the practice’s ongoing community

self-initiated projects to pursue societal issues is important to us and we

and educational projects, as a resource to explore

believe that the Community Classroom can help raise expectations for

connections between people, places and learning and

what an outdoor learning environment can be.”

has used a functional, rhythmic geometry and design. The classroom is

The Community Classroom has hosted a number of community-

intended to promote and support creative and independent learning

based workshops and events, including a craft workshop programmed

in a healthy, versatile and fun environment. It has been designed in

by Nan McKay Hall, a local community hall. O’DonnellBrown is working

line with the Curriculum for Excellence and the National Improvement

proactively to encourage future take-up of the system by a diverse range

Framework, to facilitate inclusive learning and mental wellbeing.

of users, increasing its reach throughout schools and communities, to

The design approach was driven by an aspiration to produce an

improve provision for sectors integral to our collective well-being.

accessible, simple and demountable kit of parts which at its core was

Tommy McDade, from Barnardo’s Works, added: “We were

architecturally engaging yet distilled to its purest functional form.

delighted to be part of The Community Classroom – one of our project

Standard structural timber section sizes provide a skeletal frame,

workers and a small team of young people volunteered to help build

forming the basis for plywood modules to be placed and reconfigured

the classroom. The experience helped the young people understand

to suit a diverse variety of activities and inhabitants. The kit comes

more about the value of teamwork and effective communications,

complete with an easy-to-follow manual and

while also gaining insight into working in this

modules may provide seating, shelving, worktops

sector. This has helped them to further develop

or even presentation surfaces, all while engaging

their job prospects and career ambitions.”

and empowering its hosts in the creative

O’DonnellBrown is a multi-award winning

process of constructing and defining their own

architectural practice with a keen interest in what


it takes to make a positive contribution to our

Driven by a shared commitment to

built environment. With work across the UK –

community engagement and learner-led activity,

currently concentrated in London and Glasgow

O’DonnellBrown worked closely with the national

– O’DonnellBrown is committed to bringing about

children’s charity Barnardo’s Works to identify

confident change in the places they know and love.

young people to build the prototype with. Other

Completed projects include The Greenhouse, the

sponsors and stakeholders, including the RIAS

studio’s unique workspace in Pollokshields and a

and Saint-Gobain, have also been integral to

new annexe building and outdoor learning space

the project, sharing the architects’ vision and

at Seven Mills Primary School in Tower Hamlets,

aspirations. Support has been provided in the form


of materials, such as the timber for the structural More at  www.odonnellbrown.com

framework, and structural engineering input.

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Summer 2020



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11.386 HOURS OF RESEARCH | 580 PAGES | 18 NEW PRODUCTS 16 ENGINEERS INVOLVED | 7 PATENTS | 1 CATALOGUE “PLATES AND CONNECTORS FOR TIMBER”. - a revolutionary catalogue now with refreshed graphics and renewed content. A true concentrate of technology and innovation to assist you when planning and creating what until yesterday it was not even possible to imagine. From the smallest structures to the most majestic multi storey buildings, you will certainly find the most suitable solution. Discover how to build beyond bounds of possibility.


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Summer 2020



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Triumphal Arcs A new unique curved modular timber unit offers a range of customisable options and displays the best of offsite methods and sustainable low energy construction.


ustainable, offsite construction company, Green

opportunity to embrace sustainable energy to power their buildings.

Unit announced a partnership earlier this year with

Our low profile panels provide a uniquely elegant sustainable power

Verditek, a clean technology company that develops,

option for customers when integrated into the ARC roof.”

manufactures and sells certified lightweight solar

A similar 109sqm modular ARC II building has been installed at the

panels. Under the new partnership Green Unit will seek to

site of the Roman Vindolanda fort in Northumberland. The opening

incorporate Verditek’s next generation solar panels onto the roofs

of the Robin Birley Archaeology Centre coincides with the Vindolanda

of their modular, timber-based buildings.

Trust’s 50th year anniversary.

By introducing a solar roof, ARC buildings can generate their own

“We’re delighted with our new Archaeology Centre from Green

power, enabling them to be sited in more remote locations where

Unit,” said Dr Andrey Birley, CEO and Director of Excavations for the

infrastructure and grid connections are limited. They will have battery

Vindolanda Trust. “As a World Heritage Site, sustainability is incredibly

storage and a bio-generator so that the building will continue to be

important to the Vindolanda Trust, and we felt that there was a great

powered even in cloudy conditions. The ARC’s high-end insulation and

fit with The ARC’s ethos. The minimal impact of an offsite build was

airtightness mean that it does not require much power to heat or cool the

very attractive too, especially in terms of the relative lack of disruption

space in winter and summer months respectively. Verditek’s lightweight

to day-to-day operations at our Vindolanda site which is normally open

solar panels are less than 3mm thick and, being flexible, are able to wrap

364 days a year.”

around the ARC’s curved roof. Since they use conventional silicon PV

The standard offering of the pre-assembled ARC building includes:

technology they harvest the same amount of power from sunlight that a

lighting, heating, plumbing, electrics, ventilation, floor and wall finishes,

conventional rigid panel does, and now integrate into the ARC roof.

tiling, kitchen and bathroom, foundations with delivery and building

“Partnering with Verditek is a very exciting step for Green Unit ,”

regulation costs. Manufactured at two Oxfordshire production sites, the

says Jonathan Finnerty, Managing Director of Green Unit. “Partnering

ARC building has a unique curved design, which mimics organic forms

with Verditek is a very exciting step for Green Unit and we’re looking

found in nature. With its commitment to use sustainable materials it has

forward to offering our clients a fully integrated, off-grid modular

a very low embodied carbon and has a high energy operational efficiency

building. Our companies share an ethos around sustainability and

due to its high levels of insulation and airtightness

design and strive to offer a building solution to clients that meets the highest form and functional standards.”

The ARC also has an attractive external cladding which is made from locally-grown timber. ARC buildings are available in two building

To date, all of Green Unit’s low carbon ARC buildings have had

widths (the ARC I and ARC II) which are fixed and are optimally designed

natural, green roofs which support bio-diversity and perform small-scale

as road-transportable sections. The modular design means that all ARC

carbon sinking, as well as acting as a water buffer against rainwater and

buildings can be built to any length with internal layouts that can be

flooding. Green Unit will continue to offer green roofs to clients as well

configured to individual client requirements and are ideal for offices,

as the solar roofs.

retail and visitor centres, cafés, education as well as accommodation

“Verditek’s purpose is to make sustainable energy generation

and residential developments.

possible anywhere in the world, said Dr Geoff Nesbitt CEO of Verditek. More at  www.greenunit.co.uk

“We’re thrilled to be working with Green Unit and offer their clients the

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Summer 2020



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Moving Modular Mainstream

Sevenoaks Modular (SO Modular) has been growing rapidly since formation in June 2018 on the back of a growing demand for timber and modular construction in the UK. We spoke to director Charlotte Hale to find out more.


ased in Neath, SO Modular are Wales’s largest specialist

how we will regenerate the site itself.” As the interest surrounding offsite

timber frame manufacturer

manufacture has boomed over the last

and have been quickly making

2-3 years, with much-needed public sector

a mark in the housing market. They made

support through Homes England and wider UK

national headlines in 2019 when they

government commitments, the development

announced a £6.5 million investment in

of timber-based modular solutions has

regenerating a large part of Neath’s iconic

become widely seen as a key solution to the

Metal Box industrial site. The hope is that

UK’s housing problems

they can go from producing 1,000 homes

“Adding in the modular element to the

annually to more than 3,000 using timber as

process improves the speed and efficiency

the ‘first material of choice’.

and also the quality of the final product,” says

“For us, choosing timber was based on

Charlotte. “Our manufacturing techniques

a number of factors including quality and

allow us to consistently produce to very precise

efficiency, as well as sustainability,” says

quality standards in a controlled and supervised

Charlotte. “We saw the direction of travel

environment – and of course modular

of the rest of the industry, anticipated an

construction can cut time on-site by 50%.

increased demand and we launched SO

“Although components and materials

Modular based on that. As awareness of

can be more expensive than traditional ones,

climate change has increased, so has a

cost comparisons have revealed that the

willingness to use more timber.

overall cost is the same, if not cheaper than

“The investment in the Metal Box factory

traditional building techniques, because of

consumption. While Scotland has long had a

– now known as JCG – allows us to create a

the increased speed of development. Modular

connection to timber frame housing, in England

bespoke environment to make our timber

housing also incorporates greater quality and

and Wales housebuilders and the overall

structures on a large scale under one roof. This

precision stemming from the factory-installed

perceptions of timber homes has been lower.

is about making a significant investment that

components and material.”

will benefit the local economy, keeping pace

“Housebuilders are now much more

Customer expectations and market

receptive to using timber,” adds Charlotte.

with demand and pushing an environmentally-

requirements mean the focus is increasingly

“Governments have been rolling out

friendly agenda, both in terms of the style of

turning to sustainable construction, greener

supporting strategies as well, driven by a

construction we champion and in terms of

and more environmentally-aware methods of

desire for sustainability in the industry.

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Summer 2020



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In Wales we are seeing a growing number of specifications for modern methods of construction (MMC) in tenders that we have not seen before. For example, to include the windows in the frame in the factory.

We have also invested in research into developing innovative bathroom and kitchen pods and cross laminated timber (CLT).

“We have extended our product offering to incorporate windows, doors and external cladding into our prefabricated timber frame

drivers for this sector. Building with timber

implications for the construction sector are

panels, with a view to offering fully modular

is so much better for the environment and

still to be fully understood – both on-site and

volumetric buildings in the future. We have

there is now a big drive to use Welsh timber

in the factory environment. So what is in store

also invested in research into developing

on projects, which would make the whole

for SO Modular over the next 18 months in

innovative bathroom and kitchen pods and

process even more environmentally friendly

what will be a challenging post-Coronavirus

cross laminated timber (CLT).”

and better for the Welsh economy.

construction sector?

Energy efficiency, improved productivity

Against this background, for both the UK

“The way we operate will be different

and an overarching aim of sustainable, circular

and Welsh governments, at least part of the

with social distancing at work and more virtual

consumption is at the heart of a modern

solution to build more homes is to encourage

meetings and we will be making virtual tours

construction sector. How is SO Modular playing

builders to embrace more modern and

of the factory available soon as well,” says

a key role in manufacturing this new generation

efficient methods of housebuilding. A further

Charlotte. “But more broadly, we believe

of low carbon homes that is essential to the

boost came in February 2020, when the

demand for modular construction will continue

2050 carbon reduction targets?

Welsh government said it was allocating £45

to increase. We want to be at the heart of that,

million to increase the number of affordable,

so we are investing in creating an education

sustainably-built houses in Wales.

centre and training facility at our headquarters,

“This is a driver for us across all aspects of the business,” says Charlotte. “We source all materials locally where possible and we have

“We commend the Welsh government for

to train a new generation about modular

commenced works on our first scheme using

what they have done to encourage the use

timber construction. We also anticipate

completely Welsh timber. In our new factory,

of timber and their sustainability plans and

demand from overseas for these skills.

we also have a biomass boiler with carbon

goals. Its ‘Well-being of Future Generations

filters and we recycle a very high percentage

(Wales) Act 2015’ sets out a vision to increase

we think people will want to accelerate

of all our materials.

environmental, social, cultural and economic

many projects to make up for lost time.

well-being in the country.

We’ve listened to our customers and there

“The entire site will be self-sufficient in terms of the energy it will generate and

“There is still a housing shortage and

“In April 2019 the Welsh Government

is evidently an increased demand for offsite

require – it will be a fantastic case study for the

declared a climate emergency and published

manufacturing, so we’ve introduced a more

benefits of the circular economy. Our aim is to

a 10-point plan on how to tackle this. Part

modular approach to our product offerings.

sustainably redefine the buildings we construct

of this plan looks at how carbon emissions

and restore our new facility to its former glory

from the housing sector can be reduced. The

will see us take on new premises and create

but in an innovative and eco-friendly way –

Welsh government’s aim is that all new homes

many new jobs in the heart of Neath. We already

we want it to be a landmark of Neath again,

and public buildings built in Wales should be

have a very healthy order book but our core

which the community can be proud of whilst

zero carbon from 2050. Part of the plan is to

client base is always expanding and we aim to

benefiting the local supply chain and keeping

increase forestation in the country with the

provide the best possible quality modular and

jobs and money in the region.

aim of creating timber for construction.”

sustainable solutions across the UK.”

“I think concerns and subsequent action around climate change have become huge

Timber Construction Magazine

“We also have big investment plans that

As UK society continues to recover from the effects of Coronavirus, the long term Summer 2020


More at  www.somodular.co.uk


 @Timber_Media


Exploring the Potential of Modular Construction

Rory Doak, UK Business Development Manager for Stora Enso Building Solutions, specialises in mass timber and modular construction and sees its potential growing across an ever-growing range of sectors.


hat is the reach of modular construction and can

This manual has led to the realisation of several influential, landmark

it provide high quality, cost effective buildings

modular buildings that have been built using Stora Enso cross laminated

for communities that are outside the standard

timber (CLT) and laminated veneered lumber (LVL). Puukuokka by

procurement routes? Modular construction is

leading Helsinki based architect, OOPEAA, is an eight-storey social

increasingly viewed as a solution to some of society’s more pressing

housing development in Finland consisting of seventy apartments. The

problems. From its ability to help mitigate the climate emergency

project, which was nominated for the prestigious Mies van der Rohe

and resolve pressing housing demands, to meeting the challenge of

Award in 2017, took only six months to build and at the time of its

creating temporary hospital facilities for the Covid-19 pandemic –

completion in 2015 was Finland’s tallest timber building. In London and

modular construction seems to be emerging into the mainstream by

still on-site, Nu-Living’s Watt’s Grove is the UK’s largest CLT modular

answering the current demands of society and industry.

building. The six and seven-storey residential development will provide

In 2018, the UK Government published its Construction Sector Deal which looks at reducing waste and the need to tackle inefficiencies and project delays. This further increases the relevance of modular construction which offers potential waste reductions of 50% and programme reductions of 30%, as well as employing lean construction principles resulting

Modular construction has the flexibility to create great architecture. It is highly versatile, can be adapted and relocated and its potential continues to expand to address the issues of our times.

from controlled factory conditions. As one of the world’s largest producers of mass timber products Stora Enso has been involved in some of the largest mass timber modular projects globally.

65 homes for shared ownership and affordable rents.

As a global company, logistics are crucial to the modular process in order

Versatility is perhaps one of the greatest benefits of modular

to achieve ‘just in time’ delivery of elements to sites which may be in a

construction: it has a reach and flexibility unmatched by more

different region or country to the production facility. Efficient logistics

traditional building methods. A recent, more bespoke, project by

will help to keep the cost of transportation down so that it will not make

modular specialists, Carbon Dynamic (Scotland), was delivered to the

or break the deal.

Isle of Rum off the west coast of Scotland. The island – which boasts

In 2016, Stora Enso released ‘Building Systems by Stora Enso’ – a

a population of 33 – was especially challenging logistically as it was

manual that explores modular building elements at component level which

Carbon Dynamic’s first project to be transported by water. The scheme

can be configured to meet the performance criteria for buildings globally.

provides staff housing for the seafood company Mowi, who are the

Timber Construction Magazine

Summer 2020



 @Timber_Media


largest supplier of Atlantic salmon in the world, and is comprised of a two-storey, six-bedroom apartment block with an annexe to house temporary staff, and a separate home for the site manager and their family. Carbon Dynamic assembled the twenty three modules, which are built from PEFCcertified CLT by Stora Enso, at their Invergordon factory, 150 miles from the site. Leveraging both road and maritime infrastructure, the modules were transported by truck from Invergordon to the port town of Mallaig on Scotland’s north west coast, where they were loaded onto a shipping barge more generally used for transporting sheep to the Isle of Rum. Delivery of the modules took five days over land and sea and installation was completed in just three days with the final commissioning for each the efficiencies of modular construction with the wellness benefits of

building lasting ten days.

wood, Architects Scott Brownrigg have developed a modular Social

Modular construction was the perfect fit for the Isle of Rum project given its isolated and remote geographical position, which makes it difficult

Contact Pod which will allow people who are shielded from Covid-19

to procure skilled labour and materials. Quality of construction is improved

to safely spend time with their loved ones. The Pod, which is due to be

by moving construction to a factory which can receive regular material

prototyped soon, will fit on the back of a truck and can be moved from

deliveries, and which supports a consistent growth of skilled employees

place to place. Internally, a full perspex wall divides the pod to allow full

through apprenticeship schemes.

visual contact and a panel of softer plastic within the perspex enables

Modular construction has the flexibility to create great architecture.

people to hold hands without skin contact.

It is highly versatile, can be adapted and relocated and its potential More at  www.storaenso.com

continues to expand to address the issues of our times. Combining

Use PIR insulation?


Natural Building Technologies

Timber Construction Magazine

Summer 2020

SOPREMA House, Freebournes Road, Witham, Essex CM8 3UN



 01844 338338  info@natural-building.co.uk  www.natural-building.co.uk

 @Timber_Media


The Shape of Timber Things to Come The Winners of the TRADA University Challenge 2020 were announced earlier this year and once again showed the potential talent that could be entering the timber design and build community soon.


he competition, which took place 17–19 February, saw

principles, all while meeting the client’s definitive requirements and

58 students from universities across the UK gather

working to the constraints of the site.

at Cardiff University and compete to design, cost and engineer the best low-carbon, energy and water

efficient timber community housing in less than 48 hours. A brief given by Wales & West Housing Association for a large rural

Each team consisted of student engineers, architects, architectural technologists, quantity surveyors and landscape architects, and received hands-on support from pioneering design professionals and industry members, including judges from Mikhail Riches, Cullinan

site at Adams Drive, Narbeth, laid out reallife constraints for the students to address and design to. The brief, which included a combination of homes for social rent, low-cost home ownership and open market, required low or zero carbon buildings with a Fabric First approach, sensitive place-making and a hub around which a community could be created.

Taking part in events like these teaches the sorts of skills that employers want to see, things that university can’t teach, and – you never know – you might end up landing a job there and then.

Six talented students scooped first prize: Kyle Crossley from Leeds Beckett University, Ryan Jessop from the University of Hertfordshire, Aslinn Aijian Zha from Cardiff University, Kai Yusaf

Studio, Stride Treglown, Ramboll, BuroHappold, Entuitive, Gardiner &

Chelliah from the University of Bristol, Kat Cookes from the University

Theobald and PLAN:design.

of Gloucestershire and Aaron Shaw from Sheffield Hallam University

All six teammates contributed their win to an excellent team

overcame nine rival teams to win a cash prize and walk away winners.

dynamic in which the four disciplines harmonised towards a common

Judge Rob Wheaton of architects Stride Treglown commented that competitors were tested by interpreting ‘a really challenging technical

vision, resulting in a finished design which emphasised community, green space, and minimalist design.

brief in such a short space of time’. He stressed the difficulties of both

Ryan Jessop, one of two architects within the winning team,

finding innovative ways of using timber and incorporating Passivhaus

confessed: “This is the first design competition I’ve done, so to come

Timber Construction Magazine

Summer 2020



 @Timber_Media


first is just astonishing. If we didn’t have the quantity surveyor and the

witness first-hand the dedication and passion of everyone involved.

engineers giving their justifications, we would probably have done

The judges were amazed at how individuals from different universities

something a bit madder – but (based on their input) we designed

and disciplines came together to form cohesive design teams in such

something realistic, which is why we very quickly established a building

a short space of time. Congratulations must be given to the winners

thumbprint we could hand to the engineers. Once they made it work,

and runners-up – their hard work and vision resulted in thoughtful and

we then worked on the room layouts.”

environmentally friendly timber-based designs, which we so currently

The panel of judges were unanimous in their decision to award the team top prize. Several commented on the team’s brilliant model,

need. Thanks to our sponsors, supporters, and Cardiff hosts for helping make the TRADA University Challenge 2020 a huge success.”

which they used to demonstrate a great lighting strategy during their

The 2020 competition could not have taken place without the

10-minute presentation: the in-depth, landscape-first approach which

support of major sponsors STEICO and Arnold Laver, sponsor Stora

integrated allotments and swales and the team’s strong technical

Enso, and supporters PEFC UK, Passivhaus Trust, WTTA and Wood for

analysis that revealed an excellent understanding of the client’s brief.


Tabitha Binding, Manager of the University Engagement Programme at TRADA, said: “It is always an honour to organise the

More at  www.trada.co.uk/academic-competitions/

annual TRADA University Challenge. Each year I am delighted to


 WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO TAKE PART? Participating student Joe Allison explained how his team performed – despite the winter storms causing a few problems along the way. “The TRADA University Challenge 2020 was held at Cardiff

Apprentice and Dragons’ Den and more having a casual chat with

University in the buzzing city centre. Appropriately for 2020, the

a mate over a cuppa. Throughout the event, there was never any

year the world’s leaders seem to have woken up to the global

sense of pressure being put on us by the judges.

climate crisis, the brief for the event was to design a scheme for

Although my team didn’t win, we were complimented afterwards

a new, low carbon, low energy, social housing estate which was to

by one of the judges on our presentation skills, saying they were some

be situated in rural South Wales. Ironically, and unfortunately, the

of the best of the day. I have already worked in industry for over four

arrival of storm Dennis meant that due to foul weather several

years but I think that the event has taught me a lot, primarily about

judges and participating students could not travel to the event.

working within multi-disciplinary teams and also about not wasting

The event took place over three days with ten teams of six

time and effort on fine details in the early stages of a project. It’s

students taking part in the challenge. Each team comprised two

likely that the brief or constraints will change anyway. The latter is

engineers, two architects, one landscape architect and one quantity

something I am guilty of and the event has helped me to realise it.

surveyor. The focus of the event was to allow students to work within these multi-disciplinary teams – a challenge which was new to almost all the participants involved. Day one began in the evening with dinner in the university and introductions to teammates. Following this were a series of presentations given by the judges, who dropped a few hints and gave talks on the themes of low energy, low cost housing and timber design. Each judge’s presentation was from their perspective as an industry professional in their given discipline. The organiser of the event made it very clear from the outset that the judges were present not only to provide guidance and support as we put together our designs – but also as excellent networking opportunities. Following the introductory formalities, we were treated to a drinks reception by one of the major sponsors. By the end of the event, at least two students had been offered jobs by various judges! Day two and the morning of day three were spent working on our designs, helped by the judges and the Cardiff University

any similar event to all full and part-time students. If you are

huge amount to do in a short window of time but the judges and

enthusiastic about your subject area and take part with an open

sponsors were always around to help and reassure us, which turned

mind and a good work ethic, I promise you will come away a more

what could have been a stressful experience into an enjoyable one.

knowledgeable and rounded person. Taking part in events like

The event concluded on the afternoon of the third day with

I would recommend the TRADA University Challenge or

staff. Working on the designs was challenging as there was a

these teaches the sorts of skills that employers want to see, things

each team giving a ten-minute presentation to pitch their designs

that university can’t teach, and – you never know – you might end

followed by a five-minute grilling by the judges – think less

up landing a job there and then.

Timber Construction Magazine

Summer 2020



 @Timber_Media

“Plates and connectors for timber”, the new Rothoblaas catalogue: build the impossible Rothoblaas presents its latest catalogue to international markets. “Plates and Connectors for Timber” it is a collection of all the know-how that Rothoblaas has accumulated in over 29 years of activity, it contains remarkable innovations for timber designers and manufacturers. “Plates and Connectors for Timber” is a technical manual of more than 500 pages, which contains the complete range of plates and angle brackets from the Italian multinational. This new catalogue includes some of the company’s newest solutions which can be described as truly “revolutionary”.

Norbord’s SterlingOSB Zero range - zero-added formaldehyde (ZAF) for safer construction and healthier buildings


Norbord’s portfolio of OSB products is a development of the most popular brand in the building and interior design industries and comprises SterlingOSB Zero 3, SterlingOSB Zero Tongue and Groove, SterlingOSB Zero SiteCoat, SterlingOSB Zero Fire Solutions and SterlingOSB Zero StrongFix. They are variants of the precisionengineered OSB3 board; BBA approved and designed for humid conditions, it contains zero added formaldehyde and is unique in the market by being the only ZAF OSB manufactured in the UK.

“We are proud to introduce a series of new products we believe can change the way timber construction is built for the better”, says Michele Dal Ri, the Target Manager for carpentry products at Rothoblaas. “These products are revolutionary because there is nothing else similar available in the market today. I am thinking of the SLOT, SPIDER and PILLAR. The SLOT is a connector for structural CLT panels that creates very stiff joints transferring exceptional shear stresses between the panels. The SPIDER is the result of a collaboration with the University of Innsbruck, it is a metal connector for the construction of flat CLT floors. This product makes it possible to construct skyscrapers out of timber that will reach previously inconceivable heights. We have also developed a simplified version of the SPIDER called the PILLAR: it answers the need to build with smaller spacing between pillars and can be used in a multitude of applications” says Dal Ri. 11.386 HOURS OF RESEARCH | 580 PAGES | 18 NEW PRODUCTS 16 ENGINEERS INVOLVED | 7 PATENTS | 1 CATALOGUE

“PLATES AND CONNECTORS FOR TIMBER”. - a revolutionary catalogue now with refreshed graphics and renewed content. A true concentrate of technology and innovation to assist you when planning and creating what until yesterday it was not even possible to imagine. From the smallest structures to the most majestic multi storey buildings, you will certainly find the most suitable solution. Discover how to build beyond bounds of possibility.


Unlike traditional oriented strand board (OSB) containing urea-formaldehyde (UF) or melamineurea-formaldehyde (MUF) binders, the SterlingOSB Zero family from Norbord uses a methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (poly-urethane MDI) resin to bind the thousands of strands that make up each board. SterlingOSB Zero is even more environmentally-friendly to produce than its predecessors. The pMDI binder cures at a lower temperature than UF/MUF resins so less heat energy is consumed during manufacture. It is also safer to produce since pMDI resin uses water as a catalyst in the curing process; UF/MUF resins need the addition of ammonium nitrate – an explosive chemical – to harden.

The catalogue is a technical manual in which every product is introduced explaining possible applications, showing assembly instructions, and displaying its static values. “The static performance of connections are calculated by our engineers and the product’s characteristic values are ready to be used by the designer. Providing this information is something we place emphasis on. Usually, calculations are assumed to be exclusively just the designer’s responsibility, however, for years at Rothoblaas we have been committed to making it easier for professionals to work and we will never stop doing it,” concludes Dal Ri. The new catalogue is already available in several languages and is currently being released in markets all over the world.

Like all Norbord OSB products, SterlingOSB Zero is made from forest thinnings taken from sustainably managed forests. All of Norbord’s production sites in Europe are able to produce woodbased materials that are certified according to the guidelines of the FSC or PEFC.

Visit: www.rothoblaas.com

Visit: www.norbord.co.uk

Polar protection from high performance membranes

BM TRADA recognized as an approved ICW certification body

High-performance products from the A. Proctor Group, experts at solving condensation, airtightness and energy efficiency problems in buildings have been selected for use in the construction of a British Antarctic Survey building.

BM TRADA, part of the Element Group, has been formally recognized as an approved certification body by the Institute of Collaborative Working (ICW) for the accreditation of ISO 44001 (Collaborative Business Relationships).

The BAS Signy Cummins Hut is designed to provide a fully fabricated, fit for purpose hut, which can be easily erected to provide short-term accommodation for two British Antarctic Survey operatives to carry out incredibly valuable research in extreme polar conditions.

Headed up by Business Development Director, Andy Green, the business has undertaken an eight-month process to achieve validation from the ICW, which included examination, training and audits. ISO 44001 is the first international standard in the world to address collaborative business relationships, which have been shown to enhance competitiveness and performance, in areas such as cost management, resource efficiencies, risk management and innovation.

Main Contractor, Mike Robinson of Rothwell Robinson, Manchester explained. “Due to the extreme conditions, we wanted to ensure that only the highest performing products were used on the project. In light of the extreme temperatures involved, we approached the A. Proctor Group who carried out a full condensation risk analysis.”

Andy Green explains: “There has been a real increase in market demand for ISO 44001 in the last two years, with more businesses adopting collaborative business approaches, and demanding it from their supply chain – including a number of high profile projects in the rail and infrastructure sectors. As we set out in this ‘new normal’ that we find ourselves in, collaboration is more important than ever before, as we will all need to work together to survive and continue to thrive.

“Following the risk analysis, the recommendations adopted included Roofshield® for the roof and Procheck® 500 as a VCL for the walls.” “Another key factor was that the chosen components needed to be lightweight to be carried from the shore to their final location on the island.” Roofshield is an air and vapour permeable, highly water-resistant roofing underlay that has been made to the same high specification for over 20 years. The products reliable performance has been demonstrated in the toughest locations around the world. Its characteristics allow even very complex pitched roofs to breathe, without the need for air gaps or secondary venting.

“We’re extremely proud to have been formally recognized by ICW, demonstrating our expertise in this area and enhancing our strong portfolio of management systems certification. We hope that the next stage in this process will be to elevate BM TRADA to be a first choice certification body for ISO 44001.” David Hawkins, Chief Operating Officer at ICW adds: “Developing and publishing a standard is only part of the story when it comes to Collaborative Working. Its true value comes from effective implementation and - where certification is concerned - in the integrity of those undertaking certifying. We are delighted that BM Trada chose to join ICW’s executive network, but even more so that they elected to go further and sign up to the institute’s validation programme. We congratulate them on achieving this goal and are thrilled they will be part of a core group of certification bodies supporting both the intent and integrity of the standard to deliver true value to those organisations they serve.”

Many vapour and air permeable underlays use an airtight VP film layer to achieve their performance, whilst Roofshield’s patented SMS (Spunbond Meltblown Spunbond) structure allows high levels of airflow, in addition to the transport of moisture vapour, making the formation of condensation in the roof space virtually impossible. It has an extremely high degree of vapour permeability, as well as air permeability, so will still perform in conditions in which air tight alternatives will not. Visit: www.proctorgroup.com

Visit: www.bmtrada.com

Advertise your company’s Products & Services - online or magazine

Call Terry Hanlon on 01925 270093 or email terry.hanlon@timbermedia.co.uk

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Summer 2020



 @Timber_Media


Using wood products from responsibly managed forests is key to any green building project. Third-party forest certification standards, like the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI), are a proof-point that wood comes from responsibly managed forests that have been managed for multiple environmental, social and economic values — today and into the future. Architects and builders are turning to products certified to the SFI Standard to meet their green building needs. Learn more at sfiprogram.org/green-building.

Products certified to SFI are recognized by many leading green building rating programs around the world like the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).


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Timber Construction Magazine Issue 12 Summer 2020  

Timber Construction Magazine Issue 12 Summer 2020  


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