Coppiced sweet chestnut in UK construction – challenges and opportunities for design development of hardwood building products

George Fereday, Nick Meech, Guy Nevill, Douglas Driver, Harri Lewis

This study comprised two focus groups exploring technical challenges and opportunities for small diameter sweet chestnut hardwood in construction. Five structural building products were designed and fabricated informed by the findings from the focus groups. Simple mobile sawmill and manual cleaving processes were used to align with regional skills and wood processing infrastructure. The building products developed were designed to provide a regenerative alternative to imported softwood timber that dominates the UK construction sector. Radially-sawn beams were found to provide high yield from small diameter roundwood and cleaving of short lengths of coppice was an effective way of producing building products from the highest proportion of short-rotation, coppiced sweet chestnut trees.

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