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The environmental benefits of building with green oak

Words from Helen Needham – a Chartered Architect and The Architectural Department Manager at Oakwrights

 

As society endeavours to be increasingly environmentally conscious, we understand that choosing a material to build your new home or structure can seem like a daunting task. Here at Oakwrights, we build our frames using green oak and this is why:

 

Oak as a natural resource
The use of green oak in construction dates back many centuries and has become a popular material for sustainable construction. Timber is one of the most environmentally friendly materials currently available, being a natural carbon sink, i.e. lowering CO2 levels by the amount removed from the atmosphere. It’s truly renewable if sourced from a well-managed and sustainable forest.

Oak has low levels of embodied energy, i.e. to manufacture and transport it. We ensure our frames are millimetre perfect before any woodland is cut, allowing us to select the right-sized pieces for our designs and ensure no wastage. We use the ‘heartwood’ of the tree to ensure a great quality product that’ll last for many years. Once planed, green oak processes are natural, with no treatment needed and low maintenance, allowing the material to ‘grow old gracefully’ with an elegant silver patina externally.

 

Oak as an engineering structure
Green oak is quick and efficient to build and the use of dried oak pegs helps to stiffen the structure together, while still allowing the green oak to move to its natural position. It’s an ‘honest’ material in the fact that the oak you see is doing a strong and structural job. In addition, too many hard surfaces and materials within a build can create echoey structures, yet oak is a good sound absorber.

As oak-framing specialists, we understand how to design and span an oak frame efficiently and proportion it beautifully to bring your dream home to life. We are fascinated by the durability of the material, and work using both tried and tested techniques, yet also pushing the boundaries in engineering terms when we can.

Oak and architectural space
Externally, oak can be beautifully blended to the local architectural vernacular site context. It’s versatile and can lend itself to both traditional and contemporary design. Oak looks warm and textural and this can be enhanced even further using clever and dramatic lighting. Oak genuinely creates sincere natural character within a clean living and working environment.

The sense of space we can create using an oak frame, and indeed oak cladding, and details as part of the material palette for a new build is greatly evident in our designs. We have created some truly stunning and unique residential and commercial interiors using double height voids, vaulted ceilings and galleried landings, alongside even more intimate spaces.

 

Oak and the detail
Oak detailing can complement your bespoke design, for example echoing curves in a room within the frame or introducing stainless-steel detailing to complement a piece of furniture. Our talented frame designers carefully develop oak frame designs that consider the minutest of details. Even the beautiful carpenter’s marks that are scribed, chiselled, and gouged with ease into the green timbers using roman numerals appear as artists’ signatures on every piece of oak. This traditional technology still works in the 21st century, yet as time has passed, junctions have become more refined and efficient.

We endeavour to create striking designs, and beautiful environments for you to enjoy.

 

Our Architectural team are available for further advice on sustainability measures, including information on our award-winning encapsulation system, WrightWall Natural. We can also build to the rigorous Passivhaus standard, ensuring an exceptionally comfortable and economical house, minimising energy use.