advanced timber structures

xylo- /ˈzʌɪləʊ/; zīˈlō; wood


tek- /tɛk/; technical; technique

Xylotek specialises in the design and delivery of advanced timber structures. Founded by Charley Brentnall, Oscar Emanuel and Martin Self, we offer bespoke specialist consultancy, production and erection services at all project stages from conception to built realisation.

Based in the UK and working internationally, we provide unique depth of knowledge of timber construction combined with technical and design expertise. Working with architects, engineers and directly with clients, we connect digital design and fabrication techniques with capability in practical delivery, driven by a passionate understanding of the complexities of wood.

We speak the languages of architecture, engineering and fabrication –

uniquely connecting disciplines to realise exceptional projects in wood

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We are consultants and contractors –

developing and

delivering design

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Services - Overview

We tailor our services to match your specific project’s needs:

On large projects we complement wider consultant and contractor teams by providing focused specialist input.
On smaller projects, or structures where timber is the prime component we manage and deliver the whole project from idea to artefact.
Our unique offering is to bring expertise in timber design, fabrication and construction to ALL stages of a project.

Pre-tender Consultancy

Pre-tender Consultancy We help manage risk in the early project stages by carrying out preliminary design and costing work, to ensure viability in financial, time and material terms. Our pre-tender design advisory services include 3D modelling and visualisation, engineering, cost-planning, project programming, fabrication process-defining, material consultancy, tender specifications, reports and advice. We seek to contribute creatively to projects and can support architectural competition entries.

Advanced Geometry

Advanced Geometry Xylotek is fluent in the latest digital 3D-modelling techniques and is experienced in developing bespoke software for geometric form-finding and managing complex production data for fabrication – including the particular geometric information needed for multi-axis CNC wood machining. We enable digital integration, including BIM, throughout design and fabrication.

Timber Engineering

Timber Engineering With in-house knowledge of timber structural engineering, including Eurocode 5 and BS5268, we offer specialist engineering services within projects, typically providing element sizing, connection details and their supporting analyses and calculations. Within large projects we can work to support the project’s consultant engineers by providing specialist timber expertise.


Prototyping We are makers who believe that a material system is best understood by testing it physically. We test prototype design ideas at full-scale and offer prototyping services to support design development of a project, whether at the project conception stage or in detailed design. This physical testing can include load-testing to prove structural performance and feeds into engineering calculations, costs analyses and production plans.


Fabrication Procurement With knowledge of the various wood fabrication techniques – from traditional carpentry, through multi-axis CNC to full 6-axis robotics – and with great connections to networks of fabricator suppliers we can specify, define and procure the timber elements required for any project. We understand the subtleties of sourcing timber and the workflow of processing from tree to construction site.


Installation With experience of the erection of unusual and large-scale timber structures and buildings, we can mobilise and direct a specialist installation team either as part of a fuller design-and-supply contract, to carry out the installation only – for example on behalf of a supplier in continental Europe.
For UK installations we are well experienced with the CDM regulations; and we always operate with safety and quality as our prime concerns.

Project Management

Project management With over 50 years’ combined experience in delivering complex projects in wood, we offer Project Management services to oversee the coordination, scheduling and financial control of timber structure main- and sub-contracts. We enjoy collaboration and are flexible in how we contribute to a wider team.

Conservation Consultancy

Conservation Consultancy Xylotek offers conservation services on historic structures that require sympathetic specialist renovation. Drawing experience of renovation projects including Windsor Castle and the Antarctic huts of Scott and Skackleton, we understand a wide range of traditional timber construction techniques and the contemporary methods of repair, consolidation and replacement. We work internationally meeting the needs and requirements of listed buildings and heritage organisations.


Contact us

Xylotek Ltd
Barton Manor Works
Barton Manor


+44(0)117 3021535


Work for us

We are recruiting. More details here.

Photo thanks:
Valerie Bennett www.valeriebennett.com (project images for Woodchip Barn and Timber Seasoning Shelter)
Gord Macdonald M&L (Kinsol Trestle abseiler image)
Ellie Walpole www.fishpolephotography.co.uk (Charley Brentnall portrait)
Henrietta Williams henriettawilliams.com (project images for Venn Farm and Glenloch Road)

The Den, Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester // 2019 //Travelling pop-up theatre with structure of glue laminated larch, developed to allow public participation in its construction // Architect: Howarth Tompkins // Engineer: Expedition // Glulam production: Buckland Timber // Xylotek Role: Project delivery (detail design, production, installation)


Urban Room, University of Reading // Architecture student project for Reading University, re-erected as a temporary classroom at Badgemore Primary School // Architect: Invisible Studio + University of Reading architecture students // Engineer: Corbett & Tasker // Our roles: detailing, projecting management and erection.


Solar Canopy, Earth Centre, Doncaster // Irregular long-span space-frame of regularised larch poles with steel nodes // Architect: Feilden Clegg; Engineer: Atelier One // Our roles: Charley Brentnall - Managing Director and Contracts Manager (at Carpenter Oak & Woodland)


Venn Farm // Architect: Feilden Fowles // Our roles: Oscar Emanuel - Project Manager (at EmanuelHendry)


Siza + de Moura Serpentine Pavilion // Robotically-fabricated reciprocal grid roof of 427 unique LVL elements // Architect: Álvaro Siza + Eduardo Souta de Moura with Cecil Balmond/Arup AGU // Our roles: Martin Self - Project Engineer & Geometry Definition (at Arup AGU)


Woodchip Barn, Hooke Park // Barn supported by 25m-span truss of robotically fabricated beech tree-fork elements, student designed and built // Architect: AA Design + Make (students: Zachary Mollica, Swetha Vegesana, Sahil Shah, Vivian Yang, Mohaimeen Islam), Site manager: Jack Draper // Our roles: Martin Self - Programme Director; Charley Brentnall - Construction Consultant // Photo: Valerie Bennett


Kinsol Trestle, Vancouver Island // Major structural renovation of 188m trestle rail bridge to form part of the Trans Canada Trail // Contractor: Macdonald & Lawrence // Our roles: Charley Brentnall - Consultant (condition survey and repair strategy for the Howe truss).


St Agnes Island Hall // Heavy structural larch frame forming extension to community hall in the Scilly Isles. Architects and contract administrators: PBWC; Contractor: Dawnus; Design-build Architect: Grainge // Our role: Oscar Emanuel - Project Manager (at Emanuel Hendry)


Big Shed, Hooke Park // 500sqm assembly workshop of locally-sourced larch trusses and cedar cladding, student designed // Architect: AA Design & Make (Nozomi Nakabayashi); Diploma Unit 19 (Elena Gaider, Eyal Shaviv, Olivia Putihrai, Samuel Nelson, Sanem Alper) with Mitchell Taylor Workshop/Invisible Studio // Engineer: Atelier One // Our roles: Charley Brentnall - Principal Contractor; Oscar Emanuel - Site Manager; Martin Self - D+M Programme Director // Photo - Valerie Bennett


Sawmill Shelter, Hooke Park // Canopy supported by tensile net of western red cedar laths, student designed and built // Architect: AA Design + Make (students: En-Kai Kuo, Evgenia Spyridonos, Eleni McKirahan, Rolando Madrigal) // Engineer: Arup // Our roles: Martin Self - tutor, Programme Co-director; Charley Brentnall - construction advisor)


Glenloch Road, London // Oak-framed garden room for a North London townhouse // Architect: Studio Carver; Engineer: Price & Myers // Our roles: Oscar Emanuel - Project Manager (at Emanuel Hendry)


Timber Seasoning Shelter, Hooke Park // Steam-bent beech lamellas creating a freeform canopy roof; student designed and built // Architect: AA Design + Make (students: Meghan Dorrian, Kawit Ko-Udomvit, Omri Menashe, Glen Stellmacher) // Our roles: Martin Self - D+M Programme Director; Charley Brentnall - Construction Consultant + Make Tutor


Lake Bunyonyi Lecture Theatre, Uganda // Reciprocal framed dining room and lecture theatre of eucalyptus trees felled cut and erected by students // Team: Executive architect: Feilden Clegg Bradley. Job Architect: Feilden Fowles, Alex Thomas. Engineers: Buro Happold // Our roles: Charley Brentnall - fabrication and connection design, supervision of site construction (with Henry Russell).


Architectural Association Summer Pavilion 'Swoosh' // Student designed and built LVL pavilion for Bedford Square, London // Architect: AA Intermediate Unit 2 // Our roles: Martin - Unit Master (with Charles Walker) // Photo: Valerie Bennett


Scott's Hut // Conservation of the historic huts of the Ross Sea region, Antarctica // Client: Antarctic Heritage Trust // Our roles: Charley Brentnall - timber conservator (3 seasons) and lead carpenter (1 season)


Pompidou Metz - concept design stage // Timber free-form roof inspired by woven chinese hat // Architect: Shigeru Ban // Engineer: Arup // Our roles: Geometric form-finding and structural design at competition stage (at Arup AGU)