Scotland Build: Exploring the Versatility of Timber at our Materials Library Stand

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We are exhibiting at this year’s Scotland Build – Scotland’s largest construction show which is dedicated entirely to opportunities in building, construction, architecture and design across Scotland. At our Stand – C66 – you can find out more about our Materials Library, as well as picking up case studies of award-winning Timber Projects. In this blog, we look at some of this year’s winners and speak to the clients and users of the buildings to get an overview of the versatility of Timber.

The RIAS Annual Timber Awards – sponsored by Wood for Good and Forestry Commission Scotland – is aimed at encouraging innovative and creative use of timber in new buildings in Scotland. Over the years it has become clear to A&DS that timber, and its versatility and sustainability credentials, has been adopted by both clients and architects across Scotland.

The projects nominated range in scale and location, but at the heart is a client or a user who had chosen to support a timber project. We spoke to a number of clients, building users and architects of shortlisted projects about their experience of working with timber.

Connecting to the Setting

One of the shortlisted projects was the Falls of Shin Visitor Centre by CH architecture. Valerie Houston, Contract Manager at Kyle of Sutherland Development trust, said that “timber was the key materials used in this woodland setting. The rural forest location was the inspiration and was integral to the use of timber in the design by our fantastic architect Catriona Hill from CH Architecture.”

Using timber on the Falls of Shin project was also about engaging with one of the key stakeholders – the Forestry Commission – who owns the land surrounding the site. Throughout the process, timber was used to create a number of solutions that responded to the natural environment.

Timber Interiors

Another shortlisted project was the Hawkhead Centre in Paisley, designed by Page\Park Architects. As an activity and support facility for Scottish War Blinded timber played a particular role in the interior. To deliver the visual contrast strategy dark walnut was used for handrails, while door frames and furniture were made from lighter timbers such as maple veneers.

William Alexander Montgomerie, is a member of Scottish War Blinded, attends the centre once a week. It gets me out. If I’m down, one day amongst friends and staff at the Centre can make a difference to how I feel. We support each other here; the building and the environment encourage that behaviour between the members.”

When client Helen Webster met with Mary Arnold-Forster to create The Black Shed on the Isle of Skye, they referenced the traditional nineteenth-century houses that were lined internally in vertical tongue and groove boarding.  “What we liked about this tradition was that it made the rooms feel warmer and more tactile than painted plasterboard. […] However, we were keen to extend the tradition rather than to slavishly replicate it. Therefore, the final design employed 200mm wide Douglas Fir boards that ran horizontally, except for the doors where the boards ran vertically. The timber has a beautiful warm glow when sunlight, light from the stove or artificial light hits it. The effect of the light continuously changes the feeling of the space.”

Timber Technology

The winning project in the 2018 RIAS Timber Awards was the Bath Street Collective, Portobello, Edinburgh.  John Kinsley, of John Kinsley Architects (JKA), wanted the project to be as sustainable as possible.

“I had followed with interest the breakthrough use of Cross-laminated Timber (CLT) in projects down south and thought the material would lend itself to a residential project of tenement scale. As a client group, we wanted to be as sustainable as possible and we were interested in using a timber structure in lieu of a concrete and steel frame. Using CLT saved around 8-10 weeks in the programme. We were also able to avoid using considerable areas of plasterboard linings, making CLT cost competitive.”

Timber Resources

You can read more about all the projects featured in the Timber Awards Exhibition on where you can also learn more about the properties of different timber types and methods of construction. Sign up for the A&DS newsletters to be kept up to date with events and CPD around timber.


If you are planning to visit Scotland Build on 20-21 March at the SECC come and visit up at Stand C66 where you can see our new Digital Gallery as well as sample the benefits of our materials library.

Image: The Black Shed, Skye by Mary Arnold-Forster Architects. Photo (detail) by David Barbour


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