Aesthetics and qualities of American ash

May 07, 2018 admin

Copperwood is a minimal house in Indiana U.S. clad in thermally modified ash by studio HAUS

Its name, Copperwood, was inspired by the color of the woods and the landscape surrounding the house: a place far from bustle, chosen by a family of four to fulfill their dream of a plain house, without too many decorations.

Indianapolis-based studio Haus, entrusted with this project, chose thermally modified American ash for the exterior walls of the house: “Our clients asked if we had ever used thermally modified wood. The answer at the time was no, so we then researched the product and found the closest supplier to be Woodhaven. Ultimately, we liked the appearance of the thermally treated ash samples more than some of the others. Grain and color was the biggest factor – ash had a more visible grain – whereas, some of the other species had a less-pronounced grain,” said Christopher Short, Principal of HAUS Architecture. The owner of the house chose not to protect the wood through oils or lacquer and instead let the material naturally weather into a darker grey. HAUS added a rain screen system to the wall, and Woodhaven, who supplied the timber, offered a clip/furring system, allowing water to drain out of the wall cavity. Taking into account the Indiana climate, the architects expect the material to last over 20 years.

The exterior materials are continued through the interiors in the wall cladding of the bedrooms and the stairs.

“The external use of thermally modified American hardwoods is growing significantly year on year not just in Europe but around the world, including in the USA, as this project demonstrates – added David Venables, AHEC’s European Director (American Hardwood Export Council). Thermal modification (TMT) turns non-durable hardwoods such as ash and tulipwood into durable materials that don’t decay or deteriorate in outdoor use. Architects, therefore, have a sustainable timber option that ages well and provides increased stability in use, perfect for construction.

HAUS, wanted to design the spaces with an east-west primary orientation to obtain optimal lighting thanks to passive solar lighting, but this was impossible because of the angled pipeline. However, the pipeline became a major driver of the design concept, resulting in an offset series of bars forming bedroom wing, living wing, and garage wing – each perpendicular to the other forming a Z-layout.

It was no problem achieving abundant natural light to the primary living spaces and bedrooms, but the desire for more light led to a north-facing light-well garden on the entry side of the house, later defined by the covered bridge. [Valentina Dalla Costa]