Tristan Wigfall, director at London practice alma-nac, reveals three specification favourites
Kerto LVL is a laminated veneer lumber made of 3mm layers of softwood that are bonded together and produced by Metsä Wood. We recently used Kerto timbers on a residential project where we wanted to expose the roof rafters. The spans were too large to use standard softwood rafters without inserting regular noggins. Kerto beams offer increased strength and are dimensionally stable. The material is relatively raw in appearance but the overall appearance was unified by applying a stained oil finish. We are interested in further exploring how the structural properties of timber can be expanded through such engineering.
Cork is becoming increasingly popular with architects for offering something that is a highly sustainable and thermally efficient natural material. Our first exploration with the material was perhaps in one of the most obvious of applications – as a pin board for an exhibition. The 7mm thick rolls of cork were easily applied to a sweeping curved substructure and offered a great warmth and texture as a material. More recently we are looking at utilising cork for a community café where it will be inserted within a timber frame to provide both insulation and a backdrop for art displays.
Our competition winning ‘Upside-down House’ design for a playhouse stemmed from a keen interest in exploring the use of colour within our projects. As we develop the detailed designs we are interested in using a material such as Valchromat which is a through-coloured wood fibre panel board. It comes in a broad range of colours and is naturally moisture resistant, suitable for external use when correctly finished. We are excited by the potential of machining the product to form a colourful shingled cladding with additional texture layered into the material that may imbue further details of the narrative of the project.