Sylva Wood Center

Renovated grain store provides enhanced creative space for woodworking businesses

About this project

Located in south Oxfordshire, the Sylva Wood Centre is home to the Sylva Foundation, an environmental charity which aims to support the role of woodlands in British society.

The Foundation’s main focus at the Sylva Wood Centre is to encourage the use of home-grown wood by supporting skills, enterprise and innovation.

With links to Oxford City College, the centre provides space and facilities for creative and start-up businesses. To provide additional capacity for skills training and woodworking businesses, the Sylva Foundation decided to renovate an old grain store on its site.

A careful transformation

Over a period of several months, the old grain store was completely transformed. After being stripped back to its steel frame, the building was fully insulated before being encased with timber cladding and fitted with new timber windows and doors.

The grain store is now an inspirational new home for the MicroFactory, a space for designers, makers and small businesses to create together.

Use of timber

Three sides of the building were clad with British larch feather-edge cladding, selected because it is locally grown, naturally durable and affordable.

The most prominent elevation was clad with more than 100 m2 of Vastern Timber’s Brimstone cladding manufactured from three British species; ash, poplar and sycamore.

Brimstone is made from thermally modified timber that has been grown in Britain. The thermal modification process is chemical free and by applying intense heat, the timber becomes more durable, stable and consistent.

The timber-framed doors and windows were made from Brimstone ash by George Barnsdale Joinery. To provide the best protection from the elements, the Brimstone ash was primed and painted using advanced technologies.

A learning opportunity

The first thermally modified British ash and sycamore were installed on this site in 2015 and since then Brimstone has been rigorously tested by Vastern Timber both in the lab and on site.

For the grain store, the team used three different types of Brimstone cladding and three alternative fixing systems to provide the opportunity to learn from the project. The boards were kept the same width, but the profiles were varied. To vary the design from the original Sylva Centre, the cladding for the grain store was installed vertically.

Both the cladding and the joinery will be monitored over time and the additional knowledge gained will be collated and passed on to architects and specifiers for future projects.

Environmental product declaration

Vastern Timber has produced an environmental product declaration for its Brimstone cladding. Details of the process can be viewed here and the full EPD can be viewed here.

Key contacts


Sylva Foundation 


Vastern Timber



Vastern Timber

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