Mat Barnes, associate at Studio 54 Architects, gives us three of his specification favourites

Western red cedar
For the new house on Elfort Rd, an ‘urban cabin’ on a constrained brownfield site between existing terraced housing, we used a limited palette of materials, chosen for their suitability, robustness and beauty. Western Red Cedar was used for joinery items, windows and doors, and for wall cladding (both internal and external) and fencing. Cedar is an extremely versatile, hard wearing softwood with a fine grain and naturally rich colours, that resists shrinkage, warping and twisting. We coated the external joinery with Osmo UV protection oil so that the rich warm tones would not fade.


Insulated concrete formwork
We have been exploring use of insulated concrete formwork (ICF) for our infill housing schemes for Peabody. Planning restrictions dictated a brick finish so we coupled an ICF system with carefully procured brick slips. The advantages are numerous: it provides a singular structural system which can deal with corner openings and cantilevers; it avoids expensive structural thermal connections with a thermal line on both sides of the structural core; on site, it gets watertight faster and its inherent air-tightness cuts the need to tape material joints.


Internal Douglas fir plywood cladding  
We specified fire rated plywood on a commercial project linked to industrial workshops in Turnham Green. Plywood resonates with the history of timber manufacture and retains an industrial aesthetic. Douglas fir plywood wall panels have a highly functional robust surface for fixing/hanging, and their warm colour contrasts with internal fair faced concrete and plasterboard surfaces. The panels are supplied treated with fire retardant to a UK rating Class 3, enabling us to meet functional and aesthetic requirements and the fire safety regulations.