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Cranleigh Health Centre

​​​​​​​A new Health Centre in the Surrey village of Cranleigh has been designed to create a building with a lightness and natural feel of ‘wellbeing and wellness’ rather than a place for curing the sick.  
 
The new building, which has been constructed using ​Stora Enso CLT, embraces the natural properties of CLT and much ​of the natural wood superstructure is exposed within the circulation and waiting areas, making the material integral to the look and feel of the building. ​

   

Photo by: Morgan Sindall & SR Architects

There were several reasons why Designers SR Architects and Main Contractor Morgan Sindall chose CLT for the superstructure including its speed and accuracy of construction, along with its ease of access for material deliveries to the site which is constrained by its central location on the edge of the village's main car park.
CLT's airtightness was a key consideration for the new building which has been designed to meet the current Health Technical Memorandum and Health Building Notes as well as exceeding Building Regulation Standards in terms of U values for the fabric.
With the BREEAM Design Stage submitted, the new building is targeting a score of 75.39 at Design and Post Construction stage and is expected to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’, which according to architect Sohrab Rustomjee is the combined result of strong design co-ordination and thinking, as well as the use of sustainable and exceptionally energy efficient products and materials such as CLT.
CLT's airtightness was a key consideration for the new building which has been designed to meet the current Health Technical Memorandum and Health Building Notes as well as exceeding Building Regulation Standards in terms of U values for the fabric.​
Specialist timber engineers, Eurban, worked closely with the design team throughout the design development stages to ensure careful co-ordination of all structural loading issues, service penetrations through the panels and all visual aesthetic considerations such as grain direction in the CLT where it would be left exposed in the communal areas. 
Eurban Director, Liam Dewar explains the benefits of engaging a timber specialist as early as possible, "The cost of a solid timber structure is largely determined during the early stages of design development. It is therefore much more cost effective, in terms of overall package cost, to appoint a specialist consultant contractor such as Eurban as part of the design team than not to. This is particularly the case where the package is to be let as a contractor-design item, since taking positive measures to mitigate post-tender design changes will benefit all."
 
Wood has a positive influence on human health
CLT's potential for enhancing the internal environment was also an important factor in the specification and design of the new Health Centre as Architect Sohrab Rustomjee explains, "Our desire was to create an uplifting environment and the exposure of the natural CLT superstructure in the communal areas has helped to soften the feeling internally and eliminate some of the negatives naturally associated with clinical environments which are often very austere."
This decision appears to have been vindicated as feedback from users of the Health Centre and patient groups has been very positive – the building has been described as having ‘’a sense of peace and calm’’ which ‘’feels like a working piece of art" and the project has been nominated by a member of the community for the People's Choice category in the Waverley Borough Council's Design Awards.
Although CLT is increasingly specified across the range of building types from schools and other public buildings to private and social housing, including multi-storey currently up to 20 storeys, the Health Centre at Cranleigh is the first larger UK medical building of 2 storeys or more to use CLT. Rustomjee believes that it will be one of the first of many healthcare buildings to benefit from this method of construction. He comments "CLT's use here has already benefited the community and it is our belief that over time it will be proven to have also provided a better and more successful healthcare environment."
Wood feels good
Strong anecdotal evidence emerging, particularly from the education sector, about the role CLT can play in creating a comfortable internal environment, that 'feels good' appears to support this. The material, which is increasingly being specified because of its inherent environmental and structural qualities is gaining recognition from end users for its beneficial effect on a building's interior, particularly when left exposed.
Wayne Probert, UK Sales Manager of CLT in Stora Enso Building and Living, comments on the potential wellbeing benefits of CLT, " CLT boards are bonded using formaldehyde-free and environmentally friendly adhesives which are suitable for internal exposure. It is very positive that the material is increasingly being recognised for its ability to create an internal environment which feels welcoming and calming, particularly in a healthcare environment."
A recent study carried out by proHolz Steiermark & holzcluster Steiermark (2011) in relation to schools, shows that one of the advantages of solid timber construction and exposed timber surfaces is the reduction of stress levels in students. The study concluded that this is the “First medical evidence that timber as a construction material has a positive influence on human health.”