Kebony cladding for library hideaway

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Architects Vincenzo Marchese and Petter Nordahl have recently created an eye-catching library, clad in sustainable Kebony wood, by converting the second storey of a garage in Vestfold, Norway. The building has been given a new lease of life with a clean, contemporary design which enhances the existing architecture, and brings new character to the property as a whole.

The architects altered the original pitch of the roof to dramatically increase the amount of usable space, and with bookshelves a priority, the steep angles of the new roof allow for walls that are heightened with large bookshelves set into them. Windows of differing size break up the bookshelves with tranquil seating spaces surrounding, and the geometric shapes of these windows adds an interesting variation in light and form. The transformation of the building has been entirely achieved without any adaptations to the original size of the area, while the variation in roof height also acts to break up the massing of the second storey.

Simple, clean and untreated materials are used throughout, with the interior walls and shelving crafted from birch veneer, polished concrete worktops and the exterior cladding and roof made from Kebony and zinc. Over time, the exposed Kebony will take on a delicate silver-grey patina which will complement the tone of the zinc, while also providing contrast to the bright metal in order to highlight the variation in material. The simplicity of the design and materials used evokes a natural feel, creating a space that is calming and unadorned.

The architects from NOMA Arkitekter AS wanted to combine a natural aesthetic with sustainable credentials, using geothermal energy to provide the heating for the library, as well as environmentally friendly building materials. The shelves and interior cladding are made from sustainable softwood, while Kebony cladding provides the required external protection, as it has the same durable qualities as tropical hardwoods, without the associated environmental impact.

The patented Kebony technology uses an environmentally friendly process, which permanently enhances the properties of sustainable softwood with a bio-based liquid derived from agricultural crop waste. By polymerising the wood’s cell wall with furfuryl alcohol, the wood gains greatly improved durability and dimensional stability, giving it characteristics similar to those of tropical hardwood. In creating a wood with comparable properties to tropical hardwood that can be grown in a FSC certified, sustainably managed forest, the demand for tropical woods is reduced, allowing timber to once again be an important part of sustainable construction.

Vincenzo Marchese, architect and owner of NOMA Arkitekter, commented: “This has been a truly exciting albeit challenging project to work on, as a large change in purpose and design of the structure was required, while still keeping within the existing spatial restraints. It is the simple, clean lines of the design, as well as high quality of materials such as Kebony that have made the finished project so beautiful.”

Mette Valen, Sales Manager Norway at Kebony added: “The team at NOMA Arkitekter have a wealth of experience creating fantastically designed properties that enhance the building’s purpose. The team at Kebony is always excited to see what their next project will be, and look forward to working with the architects again soon”

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