There are so many things to love about wood construction. Wood is a renewable resource; it sequesters carbon; It's looks so darn good. Even in a simple, utilitarian agricultural warehouse building like this one on Holme Lacy campus of Herefordshire and Ludlow College, not far from the straw bale café shown earlier on TreeHugger.
Like the café, it's designed by Hewitt Studios, who tell us that it was a fast, efficient and cost-competitive flat pack made from Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT)
Time and budget were both tight on this project - the workshop was delivered for a rate of just £1,500/m2 including specialist M&E equipment (e.g. vehicle exhaust extraction) and within a 6 month timeframe (of which approx. 5 days was spent erecting the timber frame). As a result, the frame was designed to be as efficient as possible, using a standard CLT panel in square-cut sections, with simple (but elegant) connection details. The portal frame is formed from 200mm thick CLT columns and beams. The same material, in the same thickness, is then used for the wall and roof panels. This means that the whole building could effectively be cut from a single board type in one operation - true ‘flat-pack’ fabrication.
The choice of cladding materials has sought to make the most of the College’s natural resources. The western red cedar cladding was forested from the college’s 150 acres of woodland. This was cut to size on-site, by College contractors, just a few hundred yards from the building. Elsewhere, variegated panels of FSC-certified marine plywood help to soften the building at low-level, whilst extensive use of polycarbonate glazing at high-level allows light deep into the pale timber interior.
The architect notes that a lot of things are easier to do in wood; services can be fixed anywhere without the need for welded brackets and accessories, and no additional finishes are needed. It's easier to work in, too; it's quieter.
Really, it's not much of a building, a box of a warehouse and workshop. It's one of those "B" buildings that don't normally get the ink or pixels or much attention. They usually don't even get architects. But letting Hewitt have a go at it, making it out of CLT portal frames and panels turns it into something more: a model of how to build those B buildings with care, with sustainability in mind, and with style. They deserve it and so do we.