Timber Cladding in Scotland

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Timber Cladding in Scotland

HOMEGROWN EUROPEAN LARCH

CASE STUDY
SCOTTISH SEABIRD CENTRE, NORTH BERWICK
SIMPSON & BROWN ARCHITECTS

photo
Keith Hunter
In the short time since it opened, the new Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick has proved to be one of Scotland's most successful visitor attractions. The building is connected by video links to islands in the Firth of Forth, bringing live action of Fidra's puffins and the Bass Rock's huge gannet colony onto screens in the Centre. Given its environmentally-sensitive purpose, it was entirely appropriate that the design concept should set out produce a 'green' building, using natural materials where possible, and local ones where obtainable.

Perched on a rocky promontary (the former site of the 1930's Harbour Pavilon), the building's unusual shape is formed from three materials: stone, timber and a swooping asymmetrical copper roof. The architects gave careful consideration to the environmental impact of each of the materials used and the north and west elevations, formed from a battered, drystone rainscreen, rise steeply from sea level in echo of the coastline's rugged form. The east elevation, by contrast, sits in the shadow of the roof's deep eaves and is a carefully-articulated curving wall of vertically-arranged timber cladding.

photo
Keith Hunter

The vertical cladding is formed from ex 25 x 100mm square-edged European larch (heartwood only) boards centre-fixed to timber battens and counter-battens with 30mm stainless steel ring-shanked nails.The timber was specified to meet BS1186 - 3: 1990.

A moisture content of 13-19% was required in the timber at the time of fixing, and a high-performance breather membrane was used. No coatings were applied to the timber cladding, the architects preferring it to weather to silver-grey. From the outset, the architects' accepted the potential for the natural timbers used to warp and twist slightly, and have detailed the building accordingly.