With sustainability and green issues becoming popular buzzwords in 2019, driven by an increasing awareness of the climate crisis, the school strikes led from the front by Greta Thunberg, the ground-breaking David Attenborough documentaries and the high-profile strikes by Extinction Rebellion, the pressure on housebuilders to be sustainable and green-focused has become greater than ever.
Here we zone in on Kebony, a global leader in the production of sustainable modified wood and a company which was chosen to complete some of the most ambitious and striking homes of 2019 – from a remote island hideaway in Norway to a transformed family home in the Surrey Hills.
Responding to the growing importance of sustainability and a pressing need for eco-conscious materials in construction, the work of Kebony – a Norwegian wood producer - across Europe aims to demonstrate how homes can be constructed with a clear commitment to sustainability, without compromising on unique and striking design.
Kings Lea House, Abinger, Dorking
A once traditional 20th century house deep in the Surrey Hills was transformed by Lees Munday Architects into a contemporary family home. With an extension to give the property a new lease of life, juxtaposed against the original building, the architects selected Kebony to achieve the owner’s vision for a sustainable and family-friendly home.
Natural materials and finishes, including stone and timber, were selected inside and out for their authenticity and the way they wear in instead of wearing out. Paramount for the owner was improving the energy efficiency of the house, which was achieved by draught-proofing, enhanced insulation and the installation of 21 flat black photovoltaic panels on the new kitchen roof.
House on an Island, Skåtøy, Norway
Positioned amongst rough terrain and rocky landscapes on the island of Skåtøy, Norway, is this holiday home built by two artists whose vision was to create an innovative and peaceful retreat.
Designed to be in-keeping with its natural Nordic surroundings, Kebony was selected to clad the exterior of the property, creating ‘a beautiful and sustainable home which blends delicately into the rugged landscape’.
Renowned architects Atelier Oslo created a ruin-like structure within the home, made up of an open-plan living space, kitchen, fireplace and a micro-mezzanine level, while the use of rich Kebony wood ‘unites the house with adjacent trees which populate the Scandinavian island’.
Coastal Home, Norway
In southern Norway, meanwhile, architect Thomas Nesheim’s ambitious new coastal home is the product of unique design and the use of innovative materials.
Aiming to blend seamlessly into the rugged landscape, the self-build home is characterised by the extensive use of charred Kebony cladding. The cladding allows the home to evolve throughout the day, changing colour in different lights and weather conditions, and reflecting the Norwegian sky at night.
What’s more, the home is designed to allow large amounts of natural light to spill into the home through the ‘expansive glass windows and doors’, whilst fostering the open-plan interior which fulfilled the architect’s brief.
Holiday cottage, Boeslum Strand, Denmark
Situated in Boeslum Strand, a seaside village in Denmark renowned for its beautiful white beaches and grassy plains, this ‘charming holiday cottage’ - carefully designed by local architect Elin Donskov - provides a 180° view of the water. Kebony was selected to clad the facade of the remote summer house, providing an environmentally-friendly build with a natural and understated appearance.
The use of Kebony cladding helped ‘achieve a silvery, natural external aesthetic with the added benefit of minimum maintenance’.
Swedish self-build, Stockholm
Lastly, hidden in the pine trees in the rural suburbs of Stockholm, architect Matthew Eastwood of Swedish firm, Tengbom, has tailor-made his very own architectural treasure for his family to enjoy.
The architect wanted a natural wood that resembled similar characteristics to the adjacent pine trees for the external cladding, which is why Kebony was selected.
The house aims to blend naturally into its surroundings without causing harm to the fragile environment, with the wood also being ‘incredibly resilient to wear and weathering’. The house boasts an impressive dining room with glass walls on both sides, whilst incorporating plenty of natural daylight throughout the house and allowing the neighboring forest to feature throughout the interior design.
What is Kebony?
Developed in Norway, Kebony’s technology aims to create an environmentally-friendly process which modifies sustainably sourced softwoods by heating the wood with furfuryl alcohol - an agricultural by-product.
By polymerising the wood’s cell wall, the softwoods permanently take on the attributes of tropical hardwood including high durability, hardness and dimensional stability.
Adrian Pye, international sales director at Kebony, said: “Looking back at 2019, we are all very proud that Kebony was selected by such a number of leading architects for some of the year’s most exciting residential projects. The wood’s versatility means that Kebony is used across a huge range of buildings and products across the world, and these outstanding projects demonstrate how more and more leading built environment professionals are recognising the importance of sustainability in the realms of construction.”
Expect to see many more green, sustainable homes in the coming decade as the climate crisis bites and countries and people around the world seek to build with the environment in mind.
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