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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.

The Sylva Foundation aims to help Britain’s trees and woodlands thrive. The renovation of an old grain store provides a vast new space for their work, creating a new facility for woodworking enterprise, innovation and skills training. Vastern Timber donated cladding and joinery material in return for the opportunity to set up a long-term test and display facility for their Brimstone range of thermally modified British timber.

Vastern Timber supplied over 100m2 of Brimstone to the project, split between the ash, poplar and sycamore varieties, and each was installed using a different fixing system by Sylva Centre tenant Rodas Irving. “The team at Sylva have for many years been great supporters of the Brimstone project,” said Vastern Timber Managing Director Tom Barnes. “In fact the Sylva Centre can lay claim to having the very first batch of thermally modified British hardwood after their original building was clad in thermally modified British ash and sycamore. We all saw this project as a great opportunity.”

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. The first thermally modified British ash and sycamore were installed at the Sylva Centre in 2015. Since then, Brimstone has been 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 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 an Environmental Product Declaration and an in-depth lifecycle analysis to establish the full carbon impact of the three Brimstone species. In 2019 they installed a weathering station at the yard in Wootton Bassett to gather information about the natural weathering processes of the timber on different elevations.

Both the cladding and the joinery will be monitored over time and the lessons learned will contribute to the growing body of knowledge and advice that can be offered to architects and specifiers for projects of the future.

The Brimstone cladding was supplied in three versions. All were installed vertically to offer variation to the original thermally modified timber cladding that was installed horizontally. While it was important that the main elevation looked attractive and consistent, It was also important to include a range of Brimstone types, cladding profiles and fixing systems to maximise the opportunity to learn from the project.

The renovation of the Grain Store increases capacity, providing more space for woodworking businesses and for skills training to be delivered at the centre. The Grain Store hosts the MicroFactory for “designers, makers and proto-typers and new or small creative businesses that want to work in a rural setting but with a city buzz.” The Grain Store is now almost unrecognisable from its former state with many visitors convinced it is a newbuild.

For the complete feature read the Summer Issue of Timber Construction

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