Wier Quay – a view to a thrill

Wier Quay is a beautiful house built on the banks of the River Tamar, near Tavistock in South West England and features a range of timber products from leading French supplier PIVETEAUBOIS.

The new timber-based home was designed for clients Mike and Susan Philips, both of whom knew the area well, being keen boating enthusiasts. The plot originally contained a concrete bungalow that had served the couple well as a weekend getaway, providing them with the perfect spot to sail and steam on the river. Having now retired, they desired a more comfortable and attractive house where they could stay for longer and enjoy the countryside and all the river offered.

To create the successful home a collaborative design phase went into great detail with the client to choose the appropriate materials to realise the concept. Wooden House, a specialist timber framing company from the South West of England, John Pardey an award-winning architectural practice and PIVETEAUBOIS, worked together closely, with the aim of all involved to create a wonderful home but also a healthier environment for their client.

“We see our work as humanistic – modern, but tempered by a love of place, traditions and materials – we aim for timelessness in our buildings,” says John Pardey. “On all projects – regardless of scale or budget – we firstly understand the vision and objectives of the client and then work very hard to explore options to find a solution that exceeds expectations yet remains practical, achievable and lasting. We always endeavour to use natural materials to make buildings that work and wear well and provide a richness and resonance that endures.”

A range of timber systems and products were considered from traditional oak framing to Canadian Tamarack Larch, as well as a wide range of techniques from traditional mortice and tenon through to CNC-machining and modern stainless steel connectors. The materials that were eventually chosen were Pine cross laminated timber (CLT) floor, walls and roof contained within a visible Douglas Fir glulam frame – all supplied by PIVETEAUBOIS. The CLT panels and glulam frame were CNC-manufactured in a precision factory environment at the company’s main production site in Sainte-Florence, France, with a small amount of on-site carpentry required to finish the joints, fit metal connectors, and profile some of the timbers before being raised into position.

“This was a super project to be involved with,” says Elisabeth Piveteau-Boley, export sales manager UK & Ireland. “The team worked together so well to achieve the design brief and the vision of the client.  A unique aspect of the house was the use of visible Pine CLT for the walls. This is something that is rarely seen in the UK and gives the house a very distinctive feel. It is a great showcase for this timber species. Alongside our sapwood free Douglas fir glulam and Pine CLT, we also supplied grey pressure-treated Douglas Fir cladding, so it really benefited the client that the architect and timber installer could source all the timber components required for the project from a single supplier.  It makes everything so much easier and efficient when you are dealing with one single company.”

The whole house was positioned a short distance from the banks of the River Tamar on a large steel frame that lifted the property above possible flood waters. The main problem encountered was that the narrow lane that led down to the site from the main road meant that the articulated lorries delivering the frame to site would not be able to access it easily. The solution saw the use of a local unoccupied factory where the frame was unloaded and stored and where any final necessary carpentry could be completed. The CLT floor was installed first, before the walls and frames were erected in three sections. The roof was then lifted by crane and dropped into position. Despite minor setbacks the entire frame was erected and complete in just nine days.

“A combination of location, brilliant design and choice of materials made this job a joy to work on,” says Will Bateman, design director at Wooden House. “Despite the initial set-back regarding access we were easily able manage the problem and quickly turned it to our advantage, something we pride ourselves on. Our partners and team worked so hard to realise the Phillips’s dream and it’s wonderful to see it completed and we know they are going to have many happy times at Weir Quay.”

“Sustainable construction is very important to us,” adds Elisabeth. “Not only do projects like this show how flexible timber can be as a building material and meet the huge requirements of low-carbon, energy efficient construction, but it is perfect in creating a natural, organic setting that provides that sense of wellbeing and calmness that we have all be searching for in recent months.”

For the complete feature read the Summer 2021 Issue of Timber Construction

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