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Office refit uses SterlingOSB Zero made the office edgier

SterlingOSB Zero’s edgy urban aesthetic ticked all the boxes for an architect’s office refit

In association with
The visualisations place the SterlingOSB Zero interventions in the context of Axis Mason’s own office.
The visualisations place the SterlingOSB Zero interventions in the context of Axis Mason’s own office. Credit: Axis mason

When architecture and interior design firm Axis Mason decided to overhaul the interior of its new office at Saint Helier in Jersey, it didn’t know the 450m2 project would become a statement of intent for the firm’s design philosophy and a showcase for clients.

‘We have a very broad client base, ranging from wealthy corporate businesses to individuals who enjoy good design but don’t necessarily have the money to spend on expensive product,’ says Siobhann Macleod, an associate and interior designer at Axis Mason, who led the Somerville House project. ‘The interiors had to demonstrate a diversity of humble materials, with moments of beauty and extravagance.’

SterlingOSB Zero was identified early on as an ideal material for the job due to its strong identity and ‘edgy’ urban aesthetic. Where particle board is often seen as a rough, sacrificial material, used for temporary structures, the intention here was to create robust permanent features with crisp lines and quality details.

Applications for the product include a standalone pod built entirely in SterlingOSB Zero and incorporating a server room and disabled toilet, a full height ‘inhabited wall’ with integrated seating and a reception desk, and other flooring, cladding and joinery.

The office’s first floor location and restricted access meant joinery would mostly have to be carried out on site, and Norbord’s product exhibited ideal handling and behavioural characteristics. 

  • Inside the ‘inhabited wall’ looking out to the office with the standalone pod in the background.
    Inside the ‘inhabited wall’ looking out to the office with the standalone pod in the background. Credit: Axis mason
  • The new wall complements the office’s minimalist industrial aesthetic.
    The new wall complements the office’s minimalist industrial aesthetic. Credit: Axis mason

The joinery contractor, Mitchell Building Contractors, developed one-to-one mock ups of common details, such as horizontal connections and exposed corner joints, and Axis Mason selected the most aesthetically pleasing and practical for machining on site.

‘We were looking for crisp, clean cut junctions, mitred or butt jointed,’ says Macleod. ‘We let the material dictate how it needed to be detailed, rather than try to force it into a situation where it was not going to perform well.’

The surface of the inhabited wall had to be divided into a series of wide horizontal bands, due to its scale. Simple butt joints between the boards would not have provided adequate stability, so the horizontal edges were instead routed to create grooved rebates at the junctions. 

Another detail was developed to create ventilation grills in the inhabited wall by routing slots into the boards as an alternative to metal grills.

The Building Regulations requirement to prevent the surface spread of flame raised a point of contention. Macleod wasn’t keen on the colour of SterlingOSB Zero products impregnated with fire retardants, but surface fireproofing treatments were also problematic. ‘We had lots of advice from paint, stain and fire retardant manufacturers and most products react poorly with the adhesive that bonds particles in the boards together – it can cause peeling and flaking in some boards,’ she says.

After various physical tests a suitable product was found, but its toxicity required the site to be cleared of people, and operatives to wear protective suits and masks.
This was mitigated by SterlingOSB Zero’s sustainable credentials: wood is high in sequestered carbon and using a material that is often seen as temporary in permanent applications highlighted a more environmentally beneficial use for it.

SterlingOSB Zero became the dominant material in the refurb that was ‘used in the most interesting and unusual way’ that continues to spark lively conversations with prospective clients and other visitors. 

This feature was produced in association with Norbord Europe



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