I was looking through some 1930’s back-copies of Timber Trade Journal yesterday, amazed to see the enormous efforts made to promote western red cedar by the British Columbia Trade Commissioner in London who had offices at 1–3 Regent Street. A series of
one-page advertisements illustrated a collection of inspirational buildings made from western red cedar with Douglas fir framing, designed and built in England.
The records coincide with the construction of the Cedar House in Chobham, designed by Lutyens and made by Colt Houses in the 1930’s. The building has recently been restored by its current owner and photographed by Canada Wood UK. It illustrates how well established cedar is in the UK, how it has inspired design through the ages, that it is sustainable (i.e. it hasn’t run-out since, and we are now using second-rotation material), and how its durability is evident and proven.
The Western Red Cedar Export Association and Canada Wood UK have worked together to develop Canadian exports of western red cedar. A design-led marketing initiative successfully translated into mainstream demand in the UK. The principal use for cedar has been as exterior cladding, and opportunities remain to extend its scope of application, such as for interior fitting.
A crucial element of marketing has been to advise specifiers about the potential for colour change, and of ways to prepare for and manage that change. It is vital that customers are made properly aware of the fact that cedar will turn silver grey, chocolate brown or even black on exposure to rain, sun and air-borne particulates, and informed about the role that coatings and maintenance regimes can play in managing transition. Most of all, it is important that buyers have realistic expectations so as to avoid any disappointment with their product. Too many brochures show freshly installed wood, and not the attractive colours that will prevail subsequently in most circumstances.
We have been informed of occasions where planning permission has been denied to builders intending to install western red cedar exterior cladding left uncoated. The application of some coating on freshly cut cedar maybe advisable and desirable in many instances, but the fact that planners are resorting to a degree of enforcement implies some level of disenchantment.
Experience shows that effective marketing must be supported by complementary education and technical support.
The Financial Times’ style magazine titled ‘How to Spend It’ (2 July 2011) published an article introduced with the words “Designers are turning to wood to create bespoke and artful kitchens that replace the white-box formula with striking timber textures.” The trend appears to be inclusive of most temperate hardwood species, with special mention given to walnut, maple, cherry, pippy-oak, painted beech, ripple-sycamore, and olive-ash.
The UK government is poised to introduce a scheme intended to reduce emissions from fossil fuels by providing long-term financial support for renewable heat installations. The Renewable Heat Incentive involves making tariff payments to owners of private, public and domestic properties that generate heat from renewable sources such as biomass and solar. Continue reading