The buildings have all been occupied except one about which we are working with a furniture maker who may take the building for making wooden furniture.
The development has been built in pairs with a free-standing pair
of workshops at the front of the site and a group of four to the rear. There will be a final pair built with a gap between them and the first pair forming the access into a courtyard formed by the cluster of buildings.
The reason for building in pairs is mostly financial as the completion and sale of one pair is enough to part-fund the building of the follow-on pair. This is crucial as the client, Woodland Enterprises Ltd., are a not-for-profit trust working with very limited working capital. Most of the preliminary design and construction work was funded through regional and European grants.
It would have been good to have built all of the workshops at once but the stop-start nature of the project has worked to our advantage. While one pair of workshops are under construction, we have been given the opportunity to assess the work and to make improvements if required. For example, in the case of the first two workshops, which were built as pre-fabricated frames and cladding panels, the next four workshops were built of pre-fabricated frames but all of the cladding was done on site over cross-laminated timber panels that were manufactured in Austria and delivered to site ready for mounting on the frames. We found that this was a far quicker and tighter way of constructing the buildings. It may be that we will build the final pair of workshops
using glu-laminated cruck frames rather than the mechanically
laminated frame types that were used on the previous six workshops. This is a reflection of the rapid changes that have occurred within the timber industry over the time of carrying-out this project. Whereas it was impossible to find a UK glu-lam structure manufacturer able to make frames of this size and shape, there is one almost on the doorstep and several more within the Southeast of England.