Ty Unnos – a Welsh timber construction

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Ty Unnos – ‘the house of one night’ - is a partnership between Coed Cymru and DRU-w funded by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) to develop an integrated whole house system for low carbon affordable housing, aiming for commercial realisation. The Sitka spruce construction system was developed as a means to use a homegrown, sustainable, low-tech and low-value method of stabilising Welsh Spruce, which is abundant in Wales but unsuitable for structural use due to its tendency to twist when drying. The project aims to create an integrated whole house system which:

- is low cost
- adds value to a poor quality timber
- is highly sustainable
- results in high quality rural architecture

Sitka spruce accounts for approximately 70% of the Forestry Commission crop. Planted following clear felling over 50 years ago, the quick growing timber has limited use in construction,
employed predominantly in the manufacture of pallets, fencing and low grade carcassing timber.

The award winning system is achieved through the innovative re-engineering of a material with poor performance capabilities, low value, readily available and locally sourced into a high value low carbon whole building system. The system provides a simplified, standardised kit of components which can be prefabricated and easily assembled on site. The system is suitable for the self build, public and private housing markets. Utilising the standard timber sizes produced by local sawmills, Sitka spruce box beams are prefabricated off-site to form a structural portal frame as a complete assembly or in individual components and infill panels. These frames and panels have been designed to create a series modular rooms varying in sizes from 1.2m x 3m to 4.8m x 3m or from entrance lobby to small bedroom to kitchen to living room. This enables a variety of house types to be generated on different sites, in different layouts and different sizes, always with the potential to add on modules as the requirements of the house evolve over time.

Two pilot buildings have been completed to date, the Environmental Resource Classroom and a Low Energy House, both in Ebbw Vale. An exhibition pavilion constructed from Ty Unnos was exhibited at the Smithsonian Folk life Festival in Washington DC in 2008.

Awards:Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) Award for Architecture and Surveying 2009, Cardiff University Innovation Award 2009

Funding: Research funded by the Technology Strategy Board; feasibility study funded by Countryside Council for Wales and the Wales Forest Business Partnership; 3 year Phd Studentship funded by EPSRC.

Design Research Unit w
Bute Building
King Edward VII Ave
Tel: 02920 874430
Email: dru@cf.ac.uk
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