Herefordshire and Ludlow College

This is a sustainable newbuild workshop sporting an innovative and highly-efficient 'flat-pack' timber structure. The project is situated on the Holme Lacy campus of Herefordshire and Ludlow College and is designed to complement the nearby Straw Bale Cafe, Fast-Track Classrooms and LRC refurbishment. It is used primarily for the maintenance of tractors and other agricultural machinery.

Unusually for an industrial building, the workshop sports a ‘flat-pack’ timber structure, which takes advantage of cross laminated timber (CLT)'s omni-directional loading capability to cut all beams, columns, walls, and roof from a single 200mm thick board. This pre-fabricated, sustainable and attractive self-finished material allowed for a rapid onsite build (important as the College had a limited window of construction opportunity) with reduced foundation sizes, the flexibility for services to be fixed anywhere and the creation of a high-quality internal environment (with excellent acoustic properties).

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 CLT structure was chosen for a number of reasons:
• It allows for a rapid on-site build (important as the College has a limited window of construction opportunity).
• It is effectively self-finished (with Class 0 clearcoat), requiring no additional lining or applied finishes.
• It gives the flexibility for services to be fixed anywhere, without the coordination issues normally associated with steelwork (welding of additional brackets, etc.)
• It is carbon-sequestering, with only certified timber from sustainably managed forests being used (along with formaldehyde-free adhesives). The timbers are also reusable, recyclable and easily disposable (as biomass fuel)
• It creates a better environment than a steel-framed workshop; the surface quality is warmer / softer and the acoustics are superior, with improved reverberation times.
• It is cost-comparable with a conventional steel frame, once savings on site preliminaries, secondary framing, linings and finishes are considered.

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 six month timeframe (of which approx. 5 days was spent erecting the timber frame).

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.

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