Last year, Shou Sugi Ban® was specified for the transformation of an old, cold garage into a modern, light garden office. Nothing new there, except the architect had fresh ideas about how the timber would be cut and installed. The result was a success, with the building, Dark Matter, being shortlisted in the RIBA 2023 local awards.

Our congratulations go out to architect Ollie Andrew, founder of Hyperspace and the skilled joiners who worked with him on this unique project.

A fresh approach to Shou Sugi Ban® Installation

On the vast majority of timber clad buildings, boards are installed horizontally or vertically to create a desirable linear effect. Our Shou Sugi Ban® charred timbers are handcrafted on-site and cut to specified lengths to simplify installation and minimise waste. The finish offers timeless simplicity that can blend a building into its surroundings or work in harmony with other construction materials.

However, architect Ollie Andrew had a fresh approach with this project. Rather than boards, he specified small blocks of charred timber to create a finish that is more in keeping with traditional shingle wood tiles. Ollie referred to them as scales and the joiner had the task of offsetting each by 10mm, whilst angling at 15 degrees.

The result is a highly effective play of light and shade. The cladding combines smooth and textured Shou Sugi Ban® and along with the installation style, the finish offers a subtle geometric pattern. There is the sense that the building has been woven together and this adds to the visual interest and tactile quality.

Connection with Nature

The traditional yakisugi charring process alters the properties of timber, drawing out natural resins to weatherproof the cladding. It also makes the timber resilient to both rot and boring insects. However, in this project, the fact that small crevasses between the scales would provide a home for insects was deemed a positive way to foster biodiversity in the garden.

This was not the only intentional connection with nature in this architectural design. Two large light chimneys were installed in the roof to allow natural light to flood in. In addition, the main entrance is an angled, double-width, pivoting door. When opened, this provides a seamless connection between interior and exterior spaces.

Creative Use of Shou Sugi Ban®

Sustainable Building Materials

Both client and designer prioritised sustainability on this project, with the collective goal of minimising the carbon footprint. For a start, 95% of the existing garage structure was reused in the new build. This included steel, blocks and all of the original roof timbers. These circular principles mean greater care is needed when taking down the garage, yet it means minimal waste to landfill.

With the sustainability goal, the architect sought out local suppliers. Fortunately, both our Shou Sugi Ban® timber cladding and the interior ply boards were within a 10-mile radius of this Hertfordshire project. The contrast between the black, textured, exterior wood and the smooth, light interior wood is striking. What’s more the simplicity of the design showcases the quality of the craftsmanship.

To optimise heat retention, thick wood, wool and foil insulation fills the space between exterior and interior walls. In addition, both skylights and windows on this project are triple-glazed.

A Stunning Garden Office

What was an uninspiring suburban garage has been transformed into a dream workspace. The minimal finish offers a sense of space and calm that makes going to work a far more enjoyable experience! The simplicity also makes the space adaptable, so it can easily become an indoor/outdoor area for relaxing and socialising.

We love it and can see why RIBA highly commended this garden building, but what were the client’s thoughts?

“Sustainability is very important to me and it’s a great example of clever design, creativity and problem solving to reuse materials and source locally.”

Geometric Effects with Shou Sugi Ban®

The architect is not stopping there. He has already been in touch requestion mock ups of stacked charred battens in different designs. The geometric effects are amazing and from what we’ve seen of his design ideas, this fresh approach to dividing spaces and connecting inside and out is fantastic.

Hyperspace was only launched in 2020, but we see a bright future ahead. We look forward to seeing completed projects in the coming years.

Credits: Photographs by Simon Kennedy