Thursday 2nd November, 2017
By Jasper Emanuel, Director, EmanuelHendry
Timber frame buildings have diverse applications and have been a feature of housebuilding in this country for many centuries. In fact, back in the 1st Century AD the Romans were using techniques that we would recognise as timber frame construction. Even the joints that they used are very similar to those that are employed by carpenters today, including the well-known mortice and tenon joint.
At EmanuelHendry we have many years' experience in green oak timber frame building. The heavy structural post and beam framing that we design and construct has been used successfully for a wide range of buildings, including houses, offices, conservatories, halls, barns and studios.
'Green oak' does not refer to the colour of the wood; it describes its age. Green oak is the freshly sawn and unseasoned wood that has always been widely used in timber frame construction. It will typically have a moisture content of 30% to 80%. Green oak is easier to cut and shape and has a warm and characterful appearance. Oak can take several years to dry completely and is expensive to store. So the price of properly seasoned oak can be much higher - without necessarily offering a better result than green oak in terms of its appearance or structural properties.
What are the advantages of timber frame buildings?
One of the great advantages of heavy timber frame buildings is that they are designed to be completely self-supporting. There is therefore no need for interior walls that are load-bearing. This enables the creation of wonderful uninterrupted, open spaces within the building.
All of the green oak timber frame buildings that EmanuelHendry creates are bespoke and built to our clients- specific requirements. This means that they have a look and character that is all their own - a unique personality.
With this type of construction, the timber frame is usually visible within the interior of the building. This gives the building a beautiful hand-crafted appearance which people love.
Heavy timber frames can be designed to look fantastic, while also having great structural strength and being able to meet all the modern demands for weather-resistance and insulation.
A key practical advantage of heavy timber frames is that they are cut and shaped off-site and then transported to the building plot and 'raised' on site, giving greater control over the construction process.
What should you look for in your construction carpenter?
At EmanuelHendry we are specialists in heavy structural timber buildings. We will listen carefully to your brief and create a clear vision for the finished building and explain how this will meet your requirements.
Having worked on many different styles of building, we are able to utilise a range of different timber frame techniques and select the one that is most appropriate for your project. Our skilled carpenters have developed a deep knowledge of the materials that they work with and can ensure that the timber selected is matched precisely to the needs of your project.
Our knowledge of modern design methods is combined with traditional carpentry skills and the highest level of craftsmanship to create a finished result that marries a robust, elegant exterior appearance with a stunning interior space.
And having worked in some of the most challenging locations you can imagine, we have the experience and practical know-how required to deliver your project on schedule and on budget.
Timber frame building in action
Let's take a look at two examples of our work in this area, one a residential building and the other a commercial venue.
Yabbles Platt is a highly distinctive house that has a brand new arch-braced oak frame integrated with a masonry ground floor. EmanuelHendry constructed the timber frame using a mixture of green and dry oak. The property has a reverse layout so that the living areas are on the upper floor. Timber frame construction has allowed us to create a dramatic open plan living space, with impressive vaulted ceilings. The exposed oak beams have curved detailing on them which adds to the visual beauty of the interior. Using a heavy timber frame building has made it possible to incorporate floor to ceiling glazed panels, which flood the interior with natural light and allow the residents to enjoy the pretty views. The result is a perfect blend of traditional craftmanship with modern building materials. You can see photos of the finished building here.
With Cripps Wedding Barn we needed to create a perfect space in which to host wedding receptions. This new build oak framed structure also had to harmonise perfectly with the surrounding stone buildings. The stylish vaulted ceiling has created a great sense of space and a venue that looks really impressive when it is dressed for a wedding function. Entire walls and parts of the roof have been fitted with glazed panels, creating a bright and engaging atmosphere inside, with woven wood panelling completing the effect, as you can see here.
An exciting future for timber frame construction
People's love for the beauty of wood such as oak is as powerful as ever - and of course it is a renewable resource.
Combined with this, our desire for open plan living will continue to fuel the demand for timber frame buildings and the unique internal spaces that they can create. For many people, the look of a handcrafted vaulted oak ceiling will always feature in their mental picture of the ideal dream home.
Recent years have also seen the growth of 'timber engineering'. This often involves using timber in conjunction with other materials such as steel to create even more dramatic structures and internal spaces. Advances in computer software and 3D modelling are allowing architects to dream up complex and imaginative new uses for traditional materials such as oak.
There are even some architects and engineers who believe that many of the skyscrapers of the future will be constructed using timber frames. 30-storey wooden tower blocks are currently being proposed for Paris, Stockholm, Vancouver and Vienna. These will use a new form of cross laminated timber that can support much heavier weights than are possible with conventional wood.
Whatever the future holds, timber frame buildings will continue to play a vital role in the construction of beautiful spaces for us to live and work.