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BBC investigates future forests

posted on May 26, 2017

The Future of Forestry was this week’s theme on the BBC Radio 4 flagship environmental programme Costing the Earth.

BBC Costing The Earth

BBC Costing The Earth

The main question posed was whether Britain could revive its forestry and provide for more of its own needs.

BBC reporter Tom Heap came to interview Sylva’s CEO Gabriel Hemery at the Sylva Wood Centre. He also spoke with one of our resident furniture makers Jan Waterston, our current craftsperson-in-residence in partnership with Rycotewood Furniture Centre. The programme also featured Stuart Goodall from Confor, and Matt Larsen-Daw from the Woodland Trust.

The programme is available on the BBC iPlayer.


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Hot-bench spaces available at the Sylva Wood Centre

posted on December 8, 2016
Hot bench user at the Sylva Wood Centre

Hot bench user at the Sylva Wood Centre

As part of the continuing development at the Sylva Wood Centre we have opened a new facility to allow wood-based craftpersons to rent bench space by the week.

Called Start-Up, this flexible ‘hot-benching’ system is aimed at people of all ages who would like to try their hand at setting up a wood business without the burden of taking on a long-term lease.

Hot-benchers have access to a shared machinery workshop which means they don’t have to spend large amounts of capital to get started. Machinery includes a state-of-art Martin panel saw, plus planer, thicknesser, and bandsaw.

 

Sylva Machinery Workshop

Machinery Workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre

Users will join a vibrant and friendly community of wood craftspeople and benefit from companionship, informal advice, inspiration over shared cake and coffee, and opportunities to take part in our growing programme of public exhibitions.

There are currently five benches available to rent by the week.  If you want to find out more and to discuss terms and booking, please email paul@sylva.org.uk or call 01865 408018.


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UK could double its hardwood timber production and reduce reliance on imports

posted on September 22, 2016

The UK currently consumes more than 0.5M cubic metres of hardwood timber every year but less than 10% of this is grown in the UK. Yet sustainable home-grown timber production could be doubled by 2050, reducing timber imports by 50,000 cubic metres. This would underpin investment in innovation both in the utilisation of our woodlands and their management. These are the dramatic findings of the Grown in Britain WoodStock report published this month.

opportunities for uk hardwood

Some opportunities for UK hardwood

Summary:

  1. An increase of 20% in hardwood timber production is achievable in the short-term, reaching 100% increase by 2050.
  2. For the next 40 years 400,000 cubic meters could be brought to market sustainably, without reducing the overall growing stock in our woodlands.
  3. If timber specifications are altered, to reduce the specification of oak in favour of other species, and with improvements to infrastructure, then there is significant scope to increase production eight fold over the long term.
  4. Timber imports could be reduced by approximately 50,000 cubic metres per year.
  5. A gap in the supply chain was identified, similar to consolidation yards run by timber exporters in other countries, supplying licensed timber direct to wholesalers. Grown in Britain WoodStock could fulfill a role in providing this licensed timber at a competitive price.
  6. An online timber buying platform could help organise stocks and help with marketing, possibly linking right back to woodland owners who have access to their own processing facilities.
  7. The research project consortium was led by Grown in Britain and included Sylva Foundation alongside BRE, English Woods Timber, Forestry Commission, Sustainable Construction Solutions, and Wilmott Dixon. Partial funding was provided by Innovate UK.

 

Read more about the WoodStock project and Grown in Britain

Download the full report

Download the full report

 

 

 

Category: WOOD
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Welcome to new craftsperson-in-residence

posted on August 24, 2016

We are delighted to welcome a new Rycotewood craftsperson-in-residence to the Sylva Wood Centre. Jan Waterston graduated in July from the Rycotewood Furniture Centre at Oxford City College.

Jan Waterston designer maker

Jan Waterston, designer maker, working at the Sylva Wood Centre studio supported by Rycotewood Furniture Oxford.

Jan has a passion for exploring creative concepts and turning them into tangible objects that are not only visually stimulating but that are functional in use.

Velo RS by Jan Waterston

Velo RS by Jan Waterston

Talking of his arrival at the Sylva Wood Centre Jan Waterston commented:

“I’m really pleased to move into the studio at Sylva. It’s great to be surrounded by such a diverse and inspiring group of crafts people, in such a beautiful setting.”

Make sure you visit Jan Waterston’s website to see more of his beautiful craft.

Read more about Sylva’s relationship with Rycotewood Furniture Centre

Category: EDUCATION, WOOD
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Danish students scoop top prize in timber design competition

posted on July 21, 2016

A design for a cutting-edge timber structure, inspired by nature, scooped the honours and the £3,000 top prize in TRADA’s National Student Design Competition, which this year was hosted by Sylva Foundation at the Sylva Wood Centre.

This year’s competition – dubbed Arboreal – challenged student designers to explore the science of timber as a modern construction material for a design for an exciting Sylva Wood Centre run by tree and forestry charity, Sylva Foundation.

Sylva Foundation Chief Executive Gabriel Hemery said:

“We are very grateful indeed to TRADA, sponsors and judges for making this competition such a huge success. It was exciting to the competition entrants that the brief was a real one. Now we would like to move forward and consider how we could build a structure like this at the Sylva Wood Centre. We would welcome any expressions of interest.”

The winning design – dubbed The Leaf – was created by students Laila Alawneh and Yliana Cristova from Aalborg University in Denmark. The judges were unanimous in their choice of the winner, which blended the performance characteristics of timber with a highly decorative aesthetic.

Laila and Yliana beat off strong competition from students from the University of Coventry, Wolverhampton University, University of Strathclyde and Edinburgh University, although the judges were so impressed by the standard of entries this year they awarded not one but two ‘Highly Commended’ prizes. University of Coventry’s Piotr A Bieluga and Adam Cross, from Wolverhampton University, both picked up Highly Commended awards, while students from Edinburgh University won Best Use of British Timber for their entry, entitled Group 9.

The design brief included creating a new two-storey timber structure to serve as a multi use building, housing offices, seminar space, exhibition space and a field laboratory. In the new design students had to reflect the ethos and vision of the charity. At the same time, they needed to incorporate cutting-edge materials and technologies throughout to act as inspiration to visitors and users and create a sustainable building both with the materials they propose and long term usage of the new building.

Charlie Law, from Sustainable Construction Solutions Ltd, was one of the judges:

“The winning entry was one of the most striking entries, using CLT (or Glulam) to produce a church-like structure that really caught the judges’ eye.”

“The detail the students had gone into to find the best orientation for the natural lighting of the exhibition space, and modelling of various forms to ensure it would work structurally, was admirable. A very well worked entry, and a unanimous winner from the judges.”

Commenting on their winning entry, Laila and Yliana said:

“The most challenging part [of the brief] was to provide a cutting-edge timber structure that was not only high in performance but also decorative. We wanted to take the design to a height where it would challenge the plasticity of timber with a creative design solution that shows the beauty of natural forms.”

“We clearly understood that this structure was required to stand out as a showcase of how flexible it is to use timber in construction, one that would break the traditional conception most people have of buildings made of timber.”

More information on our National Student Design Competition, please click here.

 

Category: Announcements, WOOD
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Rycotewood Craftsperson-in-Residence appointed to Sylva Wood Centre

posted on May 10, 2016

We are delighted to welcome our latest tenant to the Sylva Wood Centre, particularly as it heralds a new level of collaboration with a local further education college.

Rycotewood craftsperson-in-residence Pete Burns

Rycotewood craftsperson-in-residence Pete Burns, moving into the new unit at the Sylva Wood Centre

Rycotewood Furniture Centre, part of City of Oxford College, has appointed a Craftsperson-in-Residence. Pete Burns, who also runs his own small business Pete Burns Furniture, will be based at the Sylva Wood Centre. He will be facilitating collaboration between Sylva Foundation and the college, and will supervise students while working among the community at the Wood Centre.

Drew Smith, Learning Manager, Rycotewood Furniture Centre said:

“Rycotewood is very excited to be building a rewarding relationship with the Sylva Foundation. The initiation of the Rycotewood Craftsperson-in Residence role, and the opportunity to exhibit our students’ work at this year’s Artweeks, confirms the start of an ongoing collaboration.”

Read more on Rycotewood Furniture Centre Tumblr blog

Rycotewood and Pete Burns will be exhibiting at the Sylva Wood Centre during ArtWeeks 2016, alongside other artists and craftspeople. Why not come along between 14-22 May, including both weekends. Read more

 


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ArtWeeks at the Sylva Wood Centre

posted on May 1, 2016
Oxfordshire ArtWeeks

Sylva Wood Centre at Oxfordshire ArtWeeks 2016

It’s just two weeks to go until we open the doors of the Sylva Wood Centre for Oxfordshire ArtWeeks.

Following the inaugural opening of the Wood Centre last year, for 2016 we will be showcasing even more tree and wood-focussed arts and craft to fascinate and delight members of the public.

We are open every day from 14-22 May from 11am-5pm, except Weds 18th when we are closed to allow school visits. Entry is free.

Address (for SatNavs navigate 100m west of result):

Sylva Wood Centre, Little Wittenham Road, Long Wittenham
OX14 4QT

All businesses we host at the Wood Centre will be exhibiting — including outdoor furniture, fine furniture, upholstery, woodworking masterclasses and more — plus we have some great invited artists including photography and art. We will also have the Tree Charter Wandering Tree onsite, where you can pose for a photo. During weekends we will have tasty food and drink for sale. You can see the full list of artists and find out more in our ArtWeeks online gallery here.

We will also be launching two exciting schemes to allow everyone to support local tree planting by getting actively involved in a Community Cropshare Orchard, and a Future Forest.

Finally, we have a few tickets remaining to our inaugural WoodWords­­™ literary event on the evening of Saturday 14th. Book now to avoid disappointment.

We look forward to welcoming you.

 

 

 

 


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Students visit Wood Centre

posted on October 5, 2015

Last week we were pleased to welcome staff and 19 students undertaking their second year studies for the Foundation Degree (FdA) at Rycotewood Furniture Centre, Oxford City College.

Sylva Foundation CEO Gabriel Hemery explained the vision of the Sylva Wood Centre, which aims to foster enterprise and to support innovation in wood.

Many of the tenants were on hand to talk about their careers and how they started their own journey in working with wood.


Photos: Rycotewood Furniture Centre, Oxford City College

Category: EDUCATION, WOOD
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Philip Koomen appointed as special advisor

posted on
Philip Koomen, Sylva Foundation

Philip Koomen, Furniture and Wood Special Advisor, Sylva Foundation

Designer-maker Dr Philip Koomen has been appointed as the Sylva Foundation’s Furniture and Wood Special Advisor.

Talking about his voluntary appointment Philip Koomen commented:

“I have been involved in the work of the Sylva Foundation since advising the charity in its ground-breaking OneOak project (2009-12). Since then I have been pleased to help the foundation shape the vision and direction of its Wood programme, which came to life in 2015 with the opening of the Sylva Wood Centre. The charity’s work is in line with my own professional practice and vital if we are to foster a new generation of designer-makers using home-grown and other sustainable timbers. I am therefore really delighted to take up the role of Furniture and Wood Special Advisor.”

At the age of 22, Philip set up his first professional workshop at his parents’ home in Henley-on-Thames in 1975, having studied Furniture Design & Technology at Buckinghamshire College. He moved to his current workshop at Wheelers Barn in Checkendon, South Oxfordshire in 1984.

Philip’s vocational path was inspired by the teachings of the Baha’i Faith. He is committed to a sustainable approach to furniture design that celebrates wood and contributes to a greater understanding of our environmental responsibilities. Furthermore, he is dedicated to providing training for aspiring designer-makers; many past members have since set up their own workshops in Britain, Canada, Ireland, Sweden, Germany and Australia.

Philip and his team have produced the equivalent of over 120 years of furniture for private and institutional clients, including the stage furniture for the Hay Festival, the choir stalls for Dorchester Abbey and various overseas clients, including the international investment bank Fidelity. He has recently been commissioned by Oxford University to design and make a range of furniture for the new Blavatnik School of Government.

Philip earned a PhD in Sustainable Furniture Design from Brunel University. His doctoral research included the creation of a local cycle, sourcing and processing non-commercial timber from local estates. The resulting furniture was showcased in the touring exhibition Out of the Woods: a Sustainable Approach to Furniture Design that began at the River Rowing Museum, Henley in 2004, and “affirmed his status as one of the finest craftsmen in wood in Britain today.” BBC Homes & Antiques, 2004.

He has been awarded several fellowships, including a life fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts. In 2004 he was amongst a select group of designers invited to Buckingham Palace to celebrate the contribution of the design industry to the nation in recognition of “excellence in design”. In 2014 he was awarded a prestigious Arts Council grant to research his creative practice. The outcomes formed part of his “retrospective” exhibition, Forest to Furniture: Ideas in the Making, at the River Rowing Museum, shown this year. He also initiated and co-organised a successful symposium and public event, Ideas in the Making, on the nature of creativity at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History for over 1500 visitors.

Philip regularly exhibits, lectures and judges at design forums and academic institutions including Singapore,Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico, France, Belgium, Dubai, USA and UK.

Philip Koomen’s website: www.philipkoomen.co.uk


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Innovate UK Funding to boost UK hardwood supply chains

posted on June 25, 2015

We are pleased to be part of a Grown in Britain consortium, led by English Woodlands Timber, that has been awarded funding by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, to explore how hardwood supply chains in the UK could be improved.

Specifically aimed at construction supply chains, project partners include the Building Research Establishment, the Forestry Commission, forest and wood charity the Sylva Foundation, building contractor Willmott Dixon, and a large timber importer and merchant, as well as subcontract input from specialist consultants Sustainable Construction Solutions and Resource Efficiency Services.

Dougal Driver, Grown in Britain Chief Executive commented:

“There are more than 30 million tonnes of timber in unmanaged woodlands throughout the UK, which the project will begin the process of unlocking. With the UK relying on high levels of imported timber the GiB project is vital to breaking down barriers within the supply chain for home-grown hardwood, making it much more accessible and readily available.”

The key aim of the project is to improve the flow of hardwood timber from UK woodlands, so that the experience of the end customer is improved. The project will have five main work streams:

  • Market research to establish the timber species and section sizes being purchased by the UK construction industry, and also to identify what timber is available in UK woodlands to match this;
  • Timber stock funding options that will look to increase roundwood and sawn timber stocks without imposing additional risks on the supply chain;
  • Timber supply hub that will be able to locate available timber in independent saw mills around the UK;
  • Material efficiencies, looking at how sawn wood yields could be improved;
  • Industry engagement, to unite and galvanise the full support of the UK timber industry.

The project is due to start in October 2015, and will run for 12 months.


Read more about Grown in Britain

Read more about Innovate UK

 

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