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Unique prototype dwelling designed for sustainable modular building uses SMARTPLY OSB3

26 Mar 2020
Case study

SMARTPLY OSB has been used to provide sustainable and structural support and flooring in a series of innovative building projects looking to address environmental concerns with a new solution for the modular building industry.

Garvan de Bruir, traditionally a furniture maker, has created a series of self-build structures that are now the workshops for his design studio DE BRUIR, in Kildare Town, Ireland.

“As a furniture maker, my core skills lie in working with timber,” he explains. “I wanted to see how far these skills would take me when applying it to housebuilding, rather than furniture making, and if I could offer any new or innovative step into timber building.

“With wood as the common material, it is easy to simply scale up techniques and construction methods from furniture and cabinet-making into building design.”

Using digital design and manufacturing methods, the objective was to design and build a modular building that could be replicated over and over again; a building that would offer warm, energy efficient living spaces, built from sustainably produced timber that is entirely locally sourced.

“Some years ago, I built a small single-story building to try out the technique,” Garvan explained. “After that proved successful, I moved on to building a larger 2-story version and created the first prototype prefabricated building.

These buildings only featured SMARTPLY OSB3 as the flooring, but the next self-build showroom had a much more comprehensive use of SMARTPLY OSB throughout. This gave me a much better appreciation of its properties.

“Currently, I’m working on a full-sized, two-bedroom dwelling which is all prefabricated in SMARTPLY OSB3.”

Local, Natural and Sustainable

“It was important to me that locally sourced materials were used for the project,” explained Garvan. “I’m based in Kildare, and I like that the MEDITE SMARTPLY factories are relatively close, and that they use timber from sustainably managed forests right here in Ireland. SMARTPLY OSB3 was the perfect solution to offer the structural support my designs needed, and it’s Irish timber, used in Ireland—what could make more sense?”

Optimising the design for offsite manufacturing is another way in which this project is truly optimised for sustainability. The element of control that offsite manufacturing offers, coupled with minimal disruption to construction site surroundings are two vital criteria that have made sustainability advocates become offsite advocates. Furthermore, when responsibly managed, timber is one of the few construction materials that can be 100% sustainable.

MEDITE SMARTPLY, owned by Coillte, the Irish forestry company which owns and sustainably manages over 7% of Irish forests, guarantees that all of its panels are sustainably produced from only the thinnings of fast-growing pine trees. The entire SMARTPLY OSB range is also manufactured with no added formaldehyde, for the peace of mind of both the craftsmen who work with the boards, and the eventual building occupants.

Design Innovation

The unique design of each building is inspired by a monocoque: a structural system where heavy loads are able to be supported through an object's external skin, similar to an egg shell. In Garvan’s design, the outer walls curve up and over to become the roof, as a single seamless arch.

The word monocoque is derived from a French term meaning ‘single’ and ‘shell’, and is traditionally used in the design of aircrafts.

Their benefits of a monocoque is that they are very lightweight, but extremely rigid and able to bear heavy loads - great design criteria for modular buildings, sections of which would have to be transported from factory to site and craned into place.

“The intention is to refine the design of these buildings into something suitable for large scale, offsite production. Each component is able to be reproduced, and the building put together like a simple jigsaw,” Garvan explains.

Not only a furniture-maker and self-builder, but also a skilled leather craftsman, Garvan de Bruir’s leather working skills also feature in the project, providing coverings and accents.

“All the leather used is responsibly sourced. It’s another natural material that underlines the message of living naturally, sustainably and in harmony with the surrounding environment, which this project tries to demonstrate.”

Garvan hopes to complete the house towards the spring of 2020.

Meanwhile the existing buildings are in daily use creating the collections for his studio DE BRUIR.

Keep up with his projects here:


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