The Coed y Brenin current visitor centre was opened in 2006 and was soon full to capacity; 155,000 people visited last year and more are expected on the back of a recently expanded network of mountain bike trails and other attractions. To cater for its growing popularity, a new building is under construction, to house a bike shop with conference and meeting rooms above. This is being built with Brettstapel panels and is expected to be opened in August 2013.
What is a Brettstapel panel? It’s a set of timber lengths joined one on top of each other in a tongue and groove manner to create a chunky-thick rectangle. Compared to conventional timber framing it uses something like 15 times the amount of timber. Far from being considered wasteful this approach is lauded as a great way of locking up large quantities of carbon.
For a customer such as Coed y Brenin, with impeccable green credentials, this is an important factor. The speed of on-site construction is also an advantage meaning quicker completion and less disruption to the constant stream of visitors.
|A Brettstapel panel|
WilliamsHomes, a timber framing company in Bala, used kiln-dried lengths of Douglas Fir and Sitka Spruce to create the panels. Timbers are stacked like a deck of narrow cards and joined together by drilling through the deck and hammering in hardwood dowels. Danish oil and several coats of a flame retardant substance are applied before delivery to site as a finished product needing no further work to the facing surface. The grains of the different types of timber make a pleasing pattern with a pink tinge to the Douglas Fir.
On the day I visited the construction site the only panels I could see were floor panels – a bit like parquet but eight inches deep!
The Coed y Brenin project is part of an ERDF funded (European Regional Development Fund) initiative to create a hub of activities in central / southern Snowdonia including Antur Stiniog, the people behind the downhill biking above Blaenau Ffestiniog.