What’s so special about timber frame buildings?
We think there are many things. I asked architect, Gordon Smith, to share why he thinks timber frame is a better way to build.
Keep reading and you’ll see his responses to my questions and some images of garden office buildings being built using a timber frame.
Q. When did you become fascinated with timber frame buildings?
Whilst studying architecture in Brighton, on a visit to Weald and Downland Museum. At the museum you can see early timber frame buildings dating back to the 13thC. Historically wood was all we had in Britain for making houses and boats and I thought, why use anything else?
Q. You still work in the original InsideOut garden office that you designed in 2001. Which bits are you still pleased with?
I’m still pleased with the flexibility. I can take our timber frame system and make any building with it. I also like the being able to get all the materials for a whole building on the back of one lorry. From a personal point of view our original garden office is the best I’ve ever worked in. Easy to heat, cool, dry, it has no faults as an office environment.
Q. Are there many differences between the 2001 version and the offices you designed in the following decade?
My more recent timber frame buildings have a higher specification, more insulation, top quality windows. There is continuing refinement of the detailed design as the years go by, to which our building team also contributed.
Q. Do you have a favourite InsideOut building? Where? Why?
Yes, the guest room/study and shower room that we built in Porlock. It’s a real Tardis built on a tiny, old garage base on the side of a very steep hill. It is very small with a surprising amount of flexible accommodation because of the bay window which overhangs into the garden.
Q. Which has the best view?
Porlock. You can see the sea in one direction and a pub with five real ales in the other.
Q. Have there been any/many eureka moments? What were they?
One of many eureka moments was using larch for the main structural beams in our timber frame buildings, as well as the cladding, because it consolidated our use of British grown wood.
Q. What’s the single most important difference about an desgining a really good garden office?
Robustness, fitness for purpose and attention to detail. (I realise that’s three differences but they are all vital.) You want to be able to slam your office doorwithout any part of the building shaking.
History – it’s rocket science
My office lease was coming to an end and Lynn was working in our spare bedroom. We started looking for a larger house but didn’t really want to move. We went to stay with a friend, who is a rocket scientist who suggested “why don’t you build an office in your garden?” We went to look at some garden offices already on the market and rapidly came to the conclusion that as an architect with a lifelong interest in timber frame buildings I could do much better myself. So InsideOut was born from a combination of architecture and astrophysics.
I believe that you get what you pay for. It’s important to learn and view before buying.
Working for *InsideOut has broadened my experience as a domestic architect. It has been a privilege to meet and serve a diverse and interesting range of people throughout the UK and provide interesting small structures to compliment their houses.
*Though InsideOut no longer build garden offices throughout the UK, our architect’s practice is still happy to design offices and bespoke garden buildings in Lancashire and Cumbria. See www.gordonsmitharchitect.co.uk