Canolfan Tyfu

A single storey multi-use building for educational and social uses built for the Growing the Future educational project that uses the innovative Ty Unnos - 'a house in one night' - system.

About this project

Located in the National Botanic Garden's Conserving Our Future Zone the wooden building was created by the garden's Growing the Future project. The building comprises two large indoor classrooms with walk in storage, a large foyer and two wet rooms as well as raised outdoor plant beds where students can come and learn practical gardening techniques. Directly opposite the building is a stunning hay meadow which has hundreds of flowering orchids during the spring and summer. It is one of the first examples of the innovative Ty Unnos offsite construction system, which was developed by Coed Cymru and partners to accommodate the characteristics of fast growing, low density homegrown Sitka spruce. 'Ty Unnos' means ‘a house in one night’ and owes its origins to the Welsh tradition of erecting a house overnight on vacant land and claiming it as a home. The name was chosen to convey a fast and adaptable building system making use of local material and local labour.

Construction method

Box beams were factory assembled into portal frames and fitted with metal feet and waterproof membrane, then transported to site and craned into position, enabling fast and weather-proof construction onsite.
The hollow section beams and panels maximise insulation and minimise thermal bridging - fully insulated with Warmcel 500. Cladding in larch, with natural and scorched finishes.

The timber story

Sitka spruce is the most readily available softwood resource in Wales, but until recently has been most widely used for pallets, fencing and carcassing. By engineering standard sizes into strong, stable components - a hollow box section beam and a small
section ladder beam – the Ty Unnos components have been able to demonstrate higher value uses for Welsh spruce, proving adaptable in both domestic and non-domestic buildings.

  • Structure (box beams, ladder beams and floor joists): home-grown C16 Sitka spruce

  • Cladding: Welsh larch

Further information

Home Grown Timber in UK Construction, Vol.1*

Ty Unnos


BREEAM pre-assessment

Find out more about the sister project on the same site here.

ImagesHughes Architects

*Case study kindly provided by Woodknowledge Wales.

Key contacts


The National Botanic Garden of Wales


Hughes Architects


Elements Europe Ltd

Structural Engineer

Mann Williams

Offsite manufacturer

Kenton Jones Ltd

On site build

G Adams Construction

Timber Supplier

Pontrilas Timber (Homegrown C16 Sitka spruce); Broadoak Timber (Welsh larch cladding)

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