Timber Cladding in Scotland
HOMEGROWN EUROPEAN LARCH AND DOUGLAS FIR
THE FIELD OF DREAMS, FINDHORN FOUNDATION
Founded in the early 1960's, the Findhorn Foundation near Forres describes itself as an international spiritual community. It has a current size of up to 150 members with several hundred individuals or families living in or associated with the Foundation and its related activities and businesses. The initial living accommodation was necessarily temporary in nature but an increasing amount of new permanent housing and community buildings are being built. This work has gained momentum over the past decade culminating in the current development of 50 houses, mostly timber-clad, on the aptly named 'Field of Dreams'. The Foundation now contains perhaps the largest collection of timber-clad bespoke housing in Scotland, and possibly even in the UK. It is also one of the longest-running large-scale demonstrations of ecological building practice in the UK, and stands comparison with the Centre for Alternative Technology in mid Wales.
Originally informed by the German 'Building Biology' or 'Baubiologie' movement, the early building work at the Foundation was technically innovative and often experimental and it continues to be inspired by a strong environmental ethos today. But although the timber-clad buildings at the Foundation are sometimes seen as being unconventional, the 'Field of Dreams' is now notable for the ordinary, suburban character of much of the development. While 'suburban' is often a pejorative description, it is not intended as a criticism in this case - it is only when timber cladding becomes ordinary, conventional and unexceptional that it will be able to deliver the full range of benefits that it is uniquely capable of.
Several designers and builders are actively involved in the development of new houses at the 'Field of Dreams'. All of the houses use local materials and suppliers wherever possible and actively seek to avoid materials or building practices that have an adverse environmental impact. Locally sourced timber is an indispensable part of the technological mix in this building approach and, with the range of different species used (mostly home-grown European larch and Douglas fir) and variety of cladding techniques employed, the overall development forms a valuable demonstration project. The house illustrated is designed by Northwoods Construction of Ullapool.