Architect On A Scooter

Simon Miller Architects Office

Pre-fabricated buildings have moved on since the 1950’s and what we have now is a system of building using timber – known as cross-laminated construction – think thick plywood. It is a bit like the way you make a model of a building by cutting up pieces of cardboard to the right shape and gluing them together but with only a 5mm tolerance.

The material is grown sustainably, often Douglas Fir or Larch. You can actually send the drawings to the factory, the factory cuts the elements of the building in the form of these timber sheets and it comes to the site as a kit of parts, flat on a lorry, very similar to the Ikea approach. It is crained in and the various elements are put together.

As well as saving on building time and cost, the other good thing about this form of building is that it does not involve the wet trades, like concrete, bricks and mortar to build the walls because the material is all dry construction and bolted together. You can then clad the elements outside using stained timber and inside you can use plasterboard in the normal way or expose the material and just varnish it for a wood look.

Our own office building was constructed in this way, in just four and a half days. Not much other work got done in the street the week it was installed as no one could believe how fast the building was going up and they all had to keep stopping what they were doing to watch!

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