Shou Sugi Ban® Featured on Grand Designs

Shou Sugi Ban® Featured on Grand Designs


Shou Sugi Ban®

Did you catch Grand Designs on Wednesday 22 September? We are delighted to share that Sayang House, a Malaysian inspired architectural design featured our Shou Sugi Ban® charred timbers.

In this close-knit family, the client Gretta was reliant on the architectural vision of her nephew, and the project management skills of her brother-in-law. Both showed considerable determination to create a unique and beautiful home with a strong connection to the surrounding landscape.

The style of the property was very unusual in its Fenland setting. The flat roof with large overhang, timber construction and interconnection between internal and external spaces is inspired by design that is seen across Malaysia.

South-East Asia had been home to Gretta and her husband for nearly two decades. Following his death, she had decided to relocate back to the UK, buying land from her sister so they could become neighbours.

The Case for Charred Timber

Professional architect, Carlos Gris, design an expansive single-storey property. The core structure was formed as a framework of precision-cut steel. SIP panels were slotted into the top layer, creating a strong roof. Large glazed panels formed the majority of the walls, providing open views into the surrounding garden and out across the flat fens.

The finishing touch was Shou Sugi Ban® charred timber cladding. When Gretta suggested using render in place of the timbers, the architect was determined to stick to his specification. Whilst mindful of the budget, the premium cladding was integral to the quality of the building.

Charred timbers were selected to forge a stronger connection with the Asian inspiration. The yakisugi process of controlled burning is a traditional Japanese technique. It was used as an effective and long-lasting way of protecting timber buildings. As the timber is heated, it releases resin, which is absorbed through the grain. This makes the charred timber cladding more resilient to rot, mould, insects, weathering and fire.

Unlike protective varnishes or paints that are used to preserve timber in Europe, charred timber does not peel away and require retreating. It is a low maintenance solution and the fact that it also looks spectacular is a bonus!

To help the architect convince the client, we sent a selection of Shou Sugi Ban® samples in different tones. The traditional crackled, black cedar does not suit all projects, so we have developed the technique to include a range of tried and tested timbers and finishes.

It did the trick; the quality of the timber speaks for itself and Gretta was won over. A bespoke twist on our Shēdo charred douglas fir was ordered. The warm tones and defined grain led presenter Kevin McCloud to describe the timber cladding as ‘a skin of burnished bronze in the fenland sun’.

Range of finishes

Precision Joinery Used to Install Charred Timber Cladding

The task of installing the Shou Sugi Ban® timbers was not left to the project manager. This required the skilled craftsmanship of local Ely carpenter and joiner, Phil King. Working in isolation through lockdown, Phil followed the precise installation instructions that had been provided by Carlos.

The results are stunning. With considerable attention to detail, the quality of charred timber cladding has been put in the spotlight. Thank you Kings Carpentry Ltd.

As well as being able to watch the Channel 4 programme on catch up, details of this architectural build are shared in the September edition of Grand Designs magazine. Take a look!

Manufacturers of Shou Sugi Ban® Charred Timber

The Shou Sugi Ban® range of charred timbers has been developed by Exterior Solutions Ltd. We char FSC timbers in our Buckinghamshire workshop, ensuring a quality finish on every piece. Our timbers have a timeless aesthetic and have been used on contemporary buildings and heritage renovations.

An overview of our product range is shared online and we are happy to provide samples to help finalise your decision. You can also view a portfolio of architecture featuring Shou Sugi Ban® cladding.