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Modular system uses Welsh forestry products
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The pioneering Ty Unnos sustainable building system led by Coed Cymru has been described as “one of the big opportunities of our times”. The comment was made by Jane Davidson, director of INSPIRE (Institute for Sustainable Practice, Innovation and Resource Effectiveness), in the foreword to a new publication, which charts the successful evolution of the system
Modular system uses Welsh forestry products

‘Ty Unnos - a selection of works’ describes the history of the project and illustrates the variety and number of built projects completed by the members of the innovative partnership.

Translating to house in a night in English,the scheme is a collaboration between public and commercial sector partners, led by Coed Cymru. The building system won the TRADA 75th Anniversary Award 2010 and was the first winner of the European timber network’s InnovaWood Prize 2011. To date around 20 uniits have been built. The affordable units have been built by partner Elements Europe of Oswestry, and further projects are in the pipeline.

One such project is the Visitor Centre at The Works, Ebbw Vale (illustrated). A successful entry into the Future Works Housing Competition 2009, a competition which called for the industry to create the “Welsh Passive House” through the consideration of natural resources, climate and geography to determine the most appropriate delivery of a low energy and carbon house for Wales. Initially constructed as a visitor centre to the Future Works development of showcase homes, the building will be retrofitted as a two bedroom house. The house establishes the complex brief of combining the german Passivhaus performance specification with a desire to source labour and materials within Wales. The completed home will meet Code for sustainable Homes level 5 through a fabric first approach to environmental design.The house was realised as the conclusive study of a collaborative research project funded by the Technology strategy Board’s innovation Fund alongside partners from local businesses involved in the timber supply chain. It won the innovaWood european forest and timber network Prize for innovation and technology transfer in 2011.

Davidson views Ty Unnos as a way of meeting the need for affordable housing which is so critical for communities in Wales.“The low carbon option is the only viable future to pursue,” she says. “An innovative system which offers a practical solution to this challenge as well as offering jobs and training in the provision of affordable homes is not only promising, but the development of the Ty Unnos system, using a readily available resource from home grown Welsh timber, may be one of the big opportunities of our times.

This award-winning system has been attracting increasing interest because it is able to add value to the timber supply chain, offer job and training opportunities for the timber and construction industries in rural areas and provide energy-efficient, affordable homes using a renewable resource from Wales.

“After years in development, I believe Ty Unnos now deserves wider attention to increase both the affordability and range of the product and to demonstrate an exciting response from rural Wales to the key challenge of our times.”

The partnership’s aim is to develop the use of home grown timber in construction, especially the commonest softwood species grown in Wales, Sitka spruce. The new publication has been funded by the Supply Chain Efficiencies Scheme, part of the Rural Development Plan for Wales.

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