Charred Larch for Burnt House: a black and white decision
Architects Hayhurst & Co found a sylvan setting with many mature trees when asked to undertake a project in London’s Maida Vale. The basement flat linked to a steeply rising back garden in a conservation area of Victorian properties, but needed both additional space and privacy from the flats above.
Timber was an entirely appropriate choice given the setting and the building’s historical context. A single-storey sub-ground level extension provided a new kitchen and dining space.
A pergola-style canopy in black charred Larch continues through to the internal space, where the Larch receives a white oiled treatment, bringing in light and providing a variety of contrasts and reflective properties.
Larch was used also as an economical material and was made more durable by the charring process. The blackened timber also recedes into the landscape, blending the extension with the surrounding garden. Inside and outside were further blended by alternate black and white Larch doors.
The process of charring timber to enhance its reflective and textural qualities originated in the Far East, and often goes by the name Shou-Sugi-Ban. After charring, the timber is doused with water which raises the surface slightly, giving new reflective properties to the wood.
Charring Larch also makes the timber more durable, increasing service life. Charred-effect timbers now available on the market include Larch, Oak, Cedar, and modified woods such as Accoya and Kebony. The latter two products already provide markedly increased durability, added to by the charring. A natural UV filter is a by-product of the charring process; an oiled finish will prevent any rub-off of the char.
TimberWorks case studies are published by the Timber Trade Federation. The Federation’s Responsible Purchasing Policy, to which all its members must adhere, has been recognised widely for its rigour, and reinforces high standards of due diligence amongst its membership. Procuring wood products from a TTF member thus represents ‘Timber you can Trust’.
The Federation also drives continuous improvement, such as its research and action to improve testing of plywoods, and its actions to promote correct product definitions for treated timber products across the supply chain.