The future of timber technology and design
Welcoming its first cohort of students in September 2022, the Centre for Advanced Timber Technology (CATT) based at the New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering (NMITE), is designed to encourage active education in timber technologies.
Located on NMITE’s second campus at Skylon Park in Hereford, the building is an exemplar in timber technology and design, with biophilic design principles at its heart.
New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering (NMITE) is a new higher education institution which opened to students in 2021. Aiming to create industry-ready graduates, NMITE collaborates with industry partners and SMEs to impart knowledge and share practical skills.
NMITE’s developing campus will be used to enable the delivery of student centric learning, while building industry partnerships and supporting students in tackling real world challenges.
Meanwhile, CATT aims to become a leading national location in timber education working with the broader NMITE academic team to create a sustainable educational portfolio. NMITE’s second campus will be home to both the Centre for Advanced Timber Technology (CATT) and the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM).
The new building houses two 700sq m workshops, one for CATT and the other for CAM. The purpose built 2,500sq m building also houses five studios for classroom learning in addition to breakout spaces. The latter will be used for informal teaching as well as offering continuing professional development (CPDs) and events for the wider industry. With its hands-on model of teaching and learning, the university aims to deliver the next generation of work-ready engineers.
The building is a hybrid structure built using a combination of timber and steel. The studio space is constructed with a combination of cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels for the external walls and ceiling, internal and external glulam beams and timber insulated closed panels. Externally, the walls are clad in larch.
Meanwhile, the workshop space is constructed from steel frames with the southern external walls built using timber insulated panels which are clad in a combination of larch and metal panels.
NMITE wanted to showcase as many different ways of using timber as possible within the building and this is done using structural timber (glulam and CLT), external timber cladding (larch), internal acoustic panelling within one of the breakout spaces and exposed oriented strand board (OSB) lining to the back of the timber insulated panels within the CATT workshop.
The timber has been left in its natural state where possible with UV treatment to external elements. Larch was chosen for the timber cladding for the external façade, as it is one of the most naturally durable timber species.
The positioning of the building considers the local environment and is orientated to minimise heat gain whilst maximising natural light. The studio spaces face west and have solar shading provided by a series of timber battens that continue the language of the timber façade. The studios also benefit from northlights that bring in natural light into the spaces. In contrast, the workshops have slim slot windows to minimise solar gain from the south.
To encourage active, eco-friendly travel, the site includes shelters to accommodate 60 bicycles and a local cycle and pedestrian path into the centre of Hereford has been extended to service the CATT.
Designed using DfMA (Design for Manufacture and Assembly) principles, all the timber and steel panels, frames and beams were manufactured offsite before being delivered to site for assembly. Arriving on-site, the individual components slotted into place quickly and easily.
Moreover, the timber frame was designed to be bolted and screwed into place in a way that allows it to be dismantled and re-used in the future.
A key aim of the project was to support local businesses. Where possible, contractor Speller Metcalfe worked with local suppliers and manufacturers to reduce the carbon costs of transportation to site, and employed local tradespeople from Herefordshire to benefit the local economy.
NMITE wanted the building itself to be an educational toolkit. To this aim, architect Bond Bryan left as many services as possible exposed within the building so that students can clearly see the different elements of a building’s inner workings and how it is constructed.
Moreover, the buildings will be fitted with sensors to monitor thermal, acoustic and structural performance, with feedback loops to digital models to carry out performance evaluation. For example, Stora Enso, the supplier of the cross-laminated timber for the building is working with NMITE to install 48 sensors to collect data on moisture.
The data from the Living Lab will be collected, collated and shared with the wider industry over time to help inform further innovation in timber engineering.