Striking, sustainable and inspirational were the watchwords for Tate + Co, the architect tasked with creating a new home for York St John’s creative and computer science students. Inside, the Creative Centre provides a warm and collaborative space for students, while the outside reflects its location near York’s historic centre, using carefully designed timber cladding on a mass scale. Unsurprisingly, the building has gone on to win several awards, including RIBA Yorkshire Building of the Year Award 2023.
Achieving the desired ‘supertexture’ finish
“From Tate + Co’s first enquiry, it was obvious that the project was going to be special,” says David Ross, our Architectural Liaison Technician for this project. David worked closely with Tate + Co in the early design stages to determine how our timber could help them achieve their ambitious aesthetic and functional aims for the Creative Centre.
“Tate + Co made the most of our timber expertise to gain a thorough understanding of the materials they were working with. This undoubtedly contributed to the success of the project as it helped them create innovative forms and push the boundaries of what’s possible with timber cladding,” explains David.
With the external cladding, there are fins, scalloped edges and giant sawtooth patterns. The result is a building that provides the onlooker with multiple areas of interest, as the carefully planned cladding breaks up its facade – as well as denoting the different facilities housed inside. The same timber species was used internally and externally for consistency, in different configurations and panel systems.
Working in collaboration with BCL Timber Projects
Tate + Co appointed BCL Timber Projects to design, manufacture and install the external timber cladding and internal acoustic timber walls and ceilings using their secret-fixing panel systems, specifying our SILA Select® Siberian Larch after their consultations with David Ross.
This product is FSC-certified and has an enhanced coating lifetime thanks to the Russwood Microtex® finish chosen by BCL. This gives the boards a fibrous surface finish to improve coating adhesion.
David Ross continued to work closely with the architect to ensure the selected product was the right fit. He says, “The scale of the project meant we could produce secret fix profiles in bespoke sizes. Only supplying the best grades of the selected timber meant we could provide the high-end aesthetic required to achieve Tate + Co’s creative design.”
As with all major commercial works, the construction programme was tight, with possible penalties for subcontractors who caused delays due to supply chain or manufacturing issues. Brian Barrett, owner of BCL, explains that his team felt confident in engaging Russwood to supply the large volumes of timber they required: “Russwood’s responsive service and commitment to quality helped us deliver a timber panel system with varying design and performance features on time and to spec for the end client, to a quality level they were delighted with.”
Providing practical support during construction
BCL design and manufacture their panel systems to suit each project at their factory in Hurst, Berkshire. This approach benefits the client as it results in little to no onsite waste, faster installation and reduced risk of delays or complications. Given the scale of the Creative Centre building, we staggered the delivery of orders to the BCL premises, ensuring they always had enough timber to work with but avoiding huge volumes being onsite at any one time.
Fireproofing the cladding
The cladding for the York St John’s Creative Campus had to meet a stringent fire classification, so it was treated with Burnblock Fire Retardant, a leading solution to increase timber’s fire retardedness. Unlike many other products on the market, this fire retardant consists of 100% natural ingredients and is biodegradable and pH-neutral.
Specifier Tip: Russwood’s timber cladding can be treated with Burnblock® to achieve fire classification up to Euroclass B- s1,d0.
Constructed with a combination of cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glue-laminated timber (glulam) from Glulam Solutions, the building enjoys a low embodied and operational carbon footprint. With a footprint of over 3000m², the Creative Centre showcases how timber can successfully be used on a mass scale. Thanks to its construction materials and methods and the environmentally conscious design, the building achieved an Excellent rating by sustainability performance framework BREEAM.