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Forest Houses CLT Homes

A new development in London will see the transformation of a former builder’s yard into a small but sustainable housing scheme using cross laminated timber (CLT) and offsite manufacture.

Located at the edge of Wanstead Flats in London, Forest Houses – including a three-bedroom family home and two smaller two-bedroom homes – will also see the remodelling and extension of a former end-of-terrace shop that straddles the entrance to the site, to create another one-bedroom home. The project showcases what can be done on a small site to create desirable low carbon living.

To transform his family’s old premises, client Spencer Seaton, enlisted Dallas-Pierce-Quintero (DPQ) architects to create a clever design to maximise the available space. The plan was to build the ground floor of the three newbuild homes in white cement block and place open-plan CLT living areas/kitchens on top. In addition to this the floors, walls and roofs of the space were made from CLT with a huge picture window, encased in a steel frame, overlooking the heath.

“For us, every project focuses on the experience of the people using the buildings we create,” says Jonathan Dallas, from DPQ. “Tailoring these to their needs, and designing homes that enable people to get the most out of the spaces they live in. By embracing the often forgotten ‘spaces in-between’, we’re always seeking to develop innovative designs that make the most of each site’s potential and harness its unique features throughout the building, such as the striking views of the neighbouring grassland at Forest Houses. A commitment to sustainability – and in particular, a passion for materiality – informs our approach at every stage, as we celebrate the warm and tactile qualities of responsibly-sourced, natural materials to create a healthy home for the long-term.”

The timber elements were supplied by leading French timber supplier PIVETEAUBOIS and included 25m3 of non-visible Pine CLT for the floor panels, with 33m3 of visible Spruce for the walls and the roof. The CLT panels were CNC-manufactured in a precision factory environment at the company’s main production site in Sainte-Florence, France, with all timber sourced from responsibly managed PEFC-certified forests guaranteeing the material as legal and sustainable.

“This scheme was fantastic to see develop,” says Elisabeth Piveteau-Boley, director UK & Ireland. “The team worked together extremely well to bring together all the elements on a small development site. The first floor CLT ‘pods’ were delivered as panels before erection and the assembly was done very easily. The use of timber has created several stylish homes and shows what a dynamic and flexible material it is.”

The lightweight first floor is all clad in the same galvanised metal sheets to create a highly textured and unified external envelope that flows between the walls and the roofs. The interior structural elements are left undressed with the white, exposed blockwork complemented by the tactile and natural feel of the CLT structure, building a connection with the surrounding tree canopies.

To create a sense of cohesion across the scheme, the use of CLT was also mirrored in the refurbishment of the existing end-of-terrace shop, where it features in the roof of the new extension. All materials were responsibly sourced and chosen for their longevity, recycling capabilities and ability to provide a healthy, toxin-free home. Celebrating simplicity in materials and innovation in construction, this super-insulated project fuses traditional and offsite manufacture to create truly sustainable and energy efficient homes.

“It’s always great to work on such innovative design and for such an experienced client,” said Will Bateman, design director at specialist timber framing company, Wooden House. “The team as always, worked really hard and even though there were a few nervous moments, owing to high winds and Covid-19 restrictions, we still managed to complete the job in just five days.”

In the drive to popularise CLT for low-carbon construction, PIVETEAUBOIS will be launching its new HEXAKIT product at Carrefour du Bois (1-3 June 2022).

You can read the full feature in the Summer Timber Construction magazine

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