Our team brings together a history of working hands-on with wood from the scale of fine-joinery furniture making to traditionally hand-hewn timber frames. We bring this embodied knowledge of wood's natural character to all our projects.
The use of wood in its natural solid forms - as opposed to the glue-based approaches of CLT and glulam - has life-cycle benefits of easier recycling or disposal. It opens a far greater choice of species types and thus characteristics of timbers - but demands greater understanding of the idiosyncratic behaviours of wood.
Despite the huge diversity of tree species and thus wood characteristics, the mainstream timber construction industry is dominated by choice from a very small number of conifer species (primarily spruce, larch and douglas fir) and the use of oak for traditional or high-performance structures. We know those species well, in addition to having worked with a great range of alternative species that we can introduce to projects with confidence.
Using wood in-the-round, rather than sawing it into rectangular sections, has the benefits of minimising processing energy and keeping the timber fibres (that give it its strength) intact. Typically, small-to-medium diameter stems are used, either in their naturally tapering state or else regularised to a consistent cylindrical section. Because of the geometry and irregularity of natural roundwood a different set of construction and connection strategies are involved.
Local wood sourcing
We advocate the use of locally sourced wood where possible, as a means of minimising the embodied carbon of transport and encouraging diversity in forestry. Economically, it is often difficult to complete with industrially mass-produced timber, but in particular situations it can be very rewarding to construct with material that has grown locally. Xylotek's team has worked extensively on projects that have involved surveying available standing timber and establishing the route from tree to building - through extraction, processing, grading and fabrication.
Xylotek team members have been involved in a series of academic research projects that have explored the direct use of varied inherent geometric form in timber, such as curved stems and forking elements. The premise of these projects, in particular those carried out at Hooke Park, was that the tree has itself optimised for particular structural configurations which can be directly exploited in a designed structure.