The judicious use of timber in architecture can create beautiful textures and colours, but it’s important to be aware of the impact of weathering on external facades. The right type of maintenance can prolong the youthful look of fresh timber, but with minimal maintenance the timber will evolve through a number of different phases during its life cycle.
Woodform were engaged by Bates Smart to consult regarding the upkeep and maintenance on a project proposal that involved the extensive use of timber; an issue which had raised concerns for the client. A palette of robust natural materials was specified throughout, to create a low maintenance development that sits in harmony with the bushland context, now and into the future.
Project Brief and Consultation
The project included 23 dwellings with 70 apartments. The client stated their preference for a rich timber look, however this would weather over time without any maintenance.
To assist the client we sat down with the designers, reviewing the scope of the project, client concerns and their desired aesthetic for the long term. We explained that over time, each application and elevation was going to weather. Soffits and balcony screens were decided to be the best applications, because the sun would get to these areas the least.
To demonstrate what the applications would look like over time, we drew on our stock of pre-weathered samples and created a sample board for approval by the client and architects. (For times like this we keep a small range of timbers lying out in the sun. Some are up to three years old!) We also created a new board to illustrate what the freshly finished version would look like.
Project Decisions and Outcome
The client expressed their desire to use an Australian native timber, so that the buildings remained in tune with the natural surrounds and bushland appearance. From a practical point of view they also needed to adhere to all the relevant fire restrictions: Spotted Gum ticked both of these boxes.
During the planning stages we raised concerns about board movement in areas of elevation that had high exposure to the sun. To minimise the impact of exposure, the solution was to use a very narrow board of 68mm wide.
The final product was a 68x19 sized board, Sorrento profile from the Expression Cladding range in Spotted Gum, pre-oiled in Cutek clear and left to weather. This met all the essential criteria from the client brief: a long-term low maintenance development that sits in aesthetic harmony with the bushland surrounds.