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An innovative timber construction system: Building affordable housing using homegrown Welsh softwood.

Thomas, Robert Huw 2013. An innovative timber construction system: Building affordable housing using homegrown Welsh softwood. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis tests an approach to delivering affordable housing for rural Wales, through the design and development of a system of homegrown, re-engineered timber components for self build. Recent studies and policy have demonstrated an acute shortage of affordable housing in rural Wales. Consequently, the Welsh Assembly Government has committed to deliver an additional 6,500 homes in the period 2007 - 11. However, there remains significant concern regarding the long term, sustainable delivery of affordable rural housing. This dissertation proposes a solution to this need, based on the readily available resource of homegrown softwood. Sitka Spruce has become the primary production crop of the Welsh woodlands. It is rarely used in the construction industry due to its propensity to distort and instead is utilised in low value industries, including low grade carcassing timber. It is proposed that through an innovative and radical approach, homegrown timber resources can offer a high quality, locally sourced and sustainable modern method of construction. In this study, a system of engineered homegrown timber components is designed, prototyped and tested as a self build construction solution for affordable housing in the diverse physical, social and economic context of rural Wales. Design led studies, including a ‘Pattern Book’ of house types, and realised prototypical constructions are used to inform and interrogate the proposed components and construction methodology. The primary objective of these investigations is to examine the applicability and appropriateness for self build construction. Finally, through the construction of a whole house prototype, a system of homegrown timber components and an approach to its assembly is proposed. Although limitations remain with this proposal, it has been possible to demonstrate that there is significant opportunity for an innovative, self build construction system using homegrown timber resources, to offer an efficient and sustainable solution for affordable housing in rural Wales.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Architecture
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
T Technology > TH Building construction
Uncontrolled Keywords: Housing; Timber; Construction; Softwood
Funders: EPSRC, Coed Cymru
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2022 01:15

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