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Timber structures Wood Awards winner

The generous volume of the main hall, inspired by the dining halls and chapels of Cambridge colleges, is large enough to accommodate a wide range of activities and acoustic performances, from chamber music to film screenings. Timber is used to create a unique sense of place, with oak, ash and spruce establishing layers of soft, warm tones appropriate for a dignified community gathering space. Each layer of timber is designed to modulate the scale of the hall, and the tones of the material are progressively lightened as they rise to upper levels. The choice of timber was also vital to achieve the quality of acoustics within the space. The lower parts of the north and south walls are lined with carved solid oak ‘linenfold’ panels, providing a surface of varying depths to scatter sound waves and so enhance the quality of sound. Within them are sets of bespoke concealed acoustic doors.

The use of oak, ash and spruce creates a warm and welcoming environment. Photo: Alan Williams

The courtyard is a children’s play space and a sheltered cloister runs along its edges. The three nursery classrooms open directly on to the courtyard so that children can play freely outside in privacy and safety. The three classrooms have lofty inclined ceilings, expressed externally by three pitched turret roofs clad with cedar shingles. All of the public spaces are adaptable; the walled garden next to the main hall can be part of a wedding celebration, but can also be used for quiet reading for nursery pupils. The main hall, 10m high, acts as the focal point to the new village centre and its main entrance is set back to create a communal gathering space, with stone benches inset into the walls for locals to sit and chat. The external walls are buffcoloured brick to match the requirements of the masterplan, but profiled with projecting bands of header and stretcher courses to create depth and shadow.

The use of timber in the main hall

The building has been designed as an exemplar of sustainability and timber has been used throughout, both inside and outside, to achieve this. The use of timber in the main hall has also been key to creating a warm and welcoming environment with a high-quality acoustic performance.

Above the panels a series of slender spruce glulam portal frame columns emerge, which rise in front of a backdrop of ashveneered wall panels and, higher up, a glazed clerestory. The glulam frames stand proud of the glazed clerestory to create a zone where acoustic banners have been installed; they can be raised or lowered to provide different acoustic qualities to suit different performances. The glulam frames are spaced at irregular intervals, within a range of 600mm, 900mm and 1200m, to break up sound reflection and create a warm, smooth sound. The west wall has an open mezzanine, clad with timber, and the brick wall above is profiled with projecting brick courses, creating a surface of depth and shadow that helps to soften the acoustic. The east wall is fully glazed at low level with sliding glazed doors that open on to a garden. The upper level is of profiled brickwork to match the west wall. The ceiling is a lattice of solid ash joists on battens that conceals air extract routes for the hall’s passive ventilation strategy. Above this is a series of deep timber trusses that act as an acoustic attenuation zone, controlling noise break-in and break-out. During the day, natural light floods through the clerestory and glazed openings, while at night, lit from within, the hall acts as a lantern to the new village. >>

The large multi-purpose room in the community centre opens on to a walled garden. Photo: Alan Williams

Timber 2019 Industry Yearbook

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Profile for BM TRADA

Timber 2019 Industry Yearbook  

The annual publication of the Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA) includes topical and technical features on all aspects of...

Timber 2019 Industry Yearbook  

The annual publication of the Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA) includes topical and technical features on all aspects of...

Profile for trada