Friday, 7 January 2011

Swiss cell

is an innovative construction material which combines the light weight of honeycombs with the stability of cellulose, ennobled through the „Diamond Effect". 
Cellulose fibres, soaked in a special resin are compressed under high temperature and high pressure to form a new homogenous honeycomb material that possesses exceptional characteristics. 

is extremely lightweight, very stable, very fast and easy to process. It insulates exceptionally well and lasts over generations. And it is - at the same time - absolutely inexpensive. With SwissCell, a universally applicable construction material opens new possibilities in construction and building. 

A lot of what we still today construct out of wooden boards or chipboards, steel construction or other "old materials" to insulate, to frame, to support or to enclose will be replaced by more intelligent and versatile solutions.Innovative high-tech solutions like SwissCell.

The SwissCell Diamond Effect
Through pressure and heat, new characteristics are created.

A pressure of 30 bars and 160 degrees Celsius turn an almost worthless raw material like cellulose into a precious homogeneous material with completely new characteristics: the filigree SwissCell honeycomb. The special resin which is contained in the cellulose hardens abruptly under heat and pressure to become extremely stiff, robust and lightweight honeycombs.

As honeycomb composite it is producible at 1'500 mm width and in any length. It doesn't need seems and, being an absolutely homogeneous material that can be excellently processed, it convinces experts from all over the world.

SwissCell sandwich panels can have the most diversified surfaces - from granite to glass (SwissCell Transparent), from synthetics with directed lighting up to special noise protection boards.

Thursday, 16 December 2010


What are SIPS?
SIPS is an acronym for Structural Insulated Panel System. Joining high performance rigid polyurethane foam insulation to oriented strand board, (OSB), produces these engineered building components. For some applications SIPS can be faced with cement particle board [CPB]. The result is a building product that is predictable, resource efficient and cost effective. SIPS are used as floors, walls and roofs on all types of buildings.

Why are SIPS so much better?
SIPS out perform other building methods in virtually every category because the insulation is a component of a system, rather than an addition. SIPS are a structural composite like an 'I'-beam. The two faces act like the flanges and the rigid core is similar to the web. In short, the three components work together, rather than against one another. This composite assembly yields stiffness, strength and predictable responses. Not only do test results show panels are stronger, but real life natural disasters have proven it time and again.

Are SIPS new?
SIPS have been used and improved in the USA, Japan and Canada since the 1950's, and are not a new untried method of building homes. Our partners SBS have been manufacturing SIPS for several years and adapting and improving the technology to meet the needs of the stringent UK market..

Why are SIPS not more popular?
Simply a lack of awareness and the conservative nature of the UK building industry has held back the introduction of SIPS. However, higher insulation standards driven by the Building Regulations and the importance of sustainable building methods has made people look to SIPS as the most economical method of meeting new requirements. U-values as low as 0.10 W/m2K can be achieved in walls and roofs using SIPS which means the system can easily meet the values expected to be set in the new Building Regulations in 2005 and beyond.

Why are SIPS environmentally friendly?
      • SIPs buildings are more energy efficient, stronger, more quiet and draft free than older technology systems, like timber framing. Less air movement or leakage translates into less drafts, fewer penetrations for noise, lower energy bills and a significantly more comfortable and controllable indoor environment. The result is lower energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
      • Factory made with minimal site wastage and less landfill use
      • OSB is made from sustainable harvested spruce, thinning and managed plantations.
      • Up to 35% less raw timber use in SIPS buildings.
How much are they?
All things considered, SIPS generally cost about the same as conventional building materials but result in a building with better performance and utilisation of space. A building with SIPS for the roof allows the roof space to be fully used.

How do SIPs react to fire?
SIPS have passed every Standard fire test that is required. A key element of fire safety is protection of the SIPS and any other underlying structure with thermal barriers like gypsum wallboard.

How do SIPS save so much labour?
SIPS are manufactured efficiently and to high quality and accuracy in SBS's factory. They are transported direct to site in much larger dimensional sizes than other building materials. The building is weather proof, faster and other subcontractors can get a head start on the work that needs to be done.

What are the options for external finishes?
Almost total choice from bricks, natural stone, brick tiles, polymer and cement renders, timber cladding and metal cladding.

Who can design SIPS?
Professionals are increasingly aware of SIPS and there should be no problem designing a building from scratch to use SIPS or modifying an existing design. SIP Buildf and its technical partner SBS will be happy to provide advice to professionals and self builders.

Is planning a problem with SIPS?
SIPS is an accepted building technology and will not cause problems with planning approval. In the same way a well detailed and engineered SIPS design will not raise difficulties with building control. SIP Build is always available to give advice.

Are SIPS houses covered by warranty schemes?
All the companies offering warranty schemes accept SIPS construction. A well-designed and constructed SIPS house should have a life expectancy equal to present types of construction. Most lenders are able to offer mortgages on SIPS houses.

What foundation should be used?
Any construction can be used but the tolerance to level must be =/- 5mm to ensure the most efficient erection of the SIPS panels.

What is the best heating system for a SIPS house?
Any conventional heating system can be used but should be down-sized because SIPS houses are so energy efficient. Controls are important as heating demand can be low or negligible and overheating can occur.

Ikea and Tesco to build Homes

ikea-village-2012-olympic-siteThe latest in the saga of retail giants turning house developer is that Inter IKEA has bought a 13 acre site on Sugar House Lane, in what will become the site of the London Olympics — right next to the Olympic Stadium to be precise — to build a mixed use development of retail and office space and 1500 residential housing units. Contentious as they may be; new players are entering the housing market, is it good or bad news?
News of the IKEA plan follows the recent approval of a Tesco housing scheme in Bromley-by-Bow, consisting of 450 residential units, a primary school, shops and a hotel, which is Tesco’s fifth development after those in Dartford, Kent, Streatham and Woolwich.
The Tesco story went national for obvious reasons, while IKEA’s previous developments were completed with much less fuss. Yes, that’s right; this isn’t IKEA’s first foray into property development in the UK. The company has built a development of prefabricated houses in Gateshead, which, despite all the jokes about flat-packed housing are fully occupied, and “honestly modern” according to the Telegraph. The firm had a proposal to build a 19 story apartment block across from Hillingdon station refused.
The system used to build the Gateshead houses was called BokLok, similar to the kit-houses being made and sold by UK firms.
Plans have not been released for the Sugar House Lane development, all we have is statements from Inter IKEA saying that they won’t look like the BokLok housing, and a statement from Peter Andrews, the chief executive of the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (LTGDC). Andrews said that he expects the units to display “the ethics of IKEA”.
“From what I’ve seen, they’re going to be different to the high-rise-dominated plans that were up before,” he said.
Andrews also said that he fully expects the development to become “a Covent Garden in the East End”. A retail, housing and leisure hub abutting the Olympic Park, this IKEA village will be one of the things making the new East End a place in which people will be proud to live, as well as a tourist destination to die for.
The question of whether this is good or bad depends on your viewpoint. From the viewpoint of outward facing business in the east end this is a good thing, because UK developers and investors are often prejudicial to the industrial east end, whereas those from outside are coming in with an open mind. Inter IKEA are currently joined by Australian developers Westfield and Lend Lease.
From a first-time buyer’s perspective this could also be good, because it is expected the 35% of the 1500 units will be affordable housing, and affordable by IKEA’s standards may be more affordable than that of Barratts.
For the residential property industry, agents, surveyors, architects, and for the wider economy, companies with substantial capital entering the market can only be perceived as a good thing.
On the whole though, time will reveal whether retail big-shots have a place in the creation of residential housing in the UK or not. One thing is certain; most developers care about the bottom line more than whether housing is affordable to core society, and it is unlikely that Tesco, IKEA, Inter IKEA or any big retail chain will have different priorities.

Tesco plans to break into house-building sector

By Susie Mesure, Retail Correspondent
Monday, 22 January 2007
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Tesco, Britain's biggest supermarket chain, plans to break into the home building business by redeveloping urban sites.
The grocer says building homes helps to make new store developments commercially viable, particularly in poorer areas of the country. It plans to build a store and 960 homes in Woolwich, south-east London, as part of a £400m project.
Tesco is also preparing to build 600 homes in Tolworth, Kingston upon Thames. Both projects are subject to approval by local authorities.
But the supermarket giant could find itself under fire on two fronts tomorrow, if initial findings from the Competition Commission suggest the watchdog plans to hamper its plans.
The release of the watchdog's emerging thinking report will coincide with a Westminster showdown over the retailer's controversial project to build a superstore over a railway line in Buckinghamshire.
Dominic Grieve, the local Conservative MP, will attack Tesco for keeping local residents in the dark over its plans to proceed with a superstore in the heart of Gerrards Cross, a market town on the Chiltern Railway line.
In a half-hour adjournment debate in the House of Commons, Mr Grieve will call on the Government to put pressure on Tesco to lift the shroud of secrecy hanging over the project.
" constituents ... are concerned at the long delay and want to know whether the scheme will ever be completed," Mr Grieve said.
Tesco said it regrets the delay over Gerrards Cross, but feels the safety of the scheme has to be paramount. It said it has kept residents informed and will continue to do so.

They're cheap, Swedish, and poised to change the world. Graham Norwood checks out the latest line at Ikea - flatpack houses

Wednesday, 14 March 2007
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It had to happen. Ikea, the store that brought a world of mixed associations to the word '"flat-pack" and made the Allen key a vital part of life, is offering low-cost kit homes. Just as a generation of Britons know the Billy bookcase and Tovik chest of drawers, so a new name is entering our vocabulary: the BoKlok.
Ikea created the BoKlok with Swedish building firm Skanska and has sold 1,500 across Scandinavia. So far, there are three types of BoKlok houses - an 800sq ft three-bedroom version and two two-bed units of 635 and 520sq ft.
Now the BoKlok (pronounced "boo-klook") is heading for Britain. Planning permission has been given for 117 factory-built homes constructed in Sweden, shipped to the UK and craned into place near Gateshead International Stadium. The interiors of the timber-framed homes will be classic Ikea - modern, open plan, with wooden floors, fixed units, plus Ikea furniture packages.
"These homes are cleverly designed, highly energy-efficient and look fantastic, so I don't think there will be any shortage of buyers," says Gateshead councillor David Napier. More BoKloks are planned for Edinburgh, central Scotland, Yorkshire, Teesside, Greater London, Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire.
One big question remains unanswered however - how much will they cost? Ikea says the Gateshead BoKloks will be aimed at households earning £12,500 to £35,000 and will have shared-ownership status. That means a chunk ranging from 25 per cent to 75 per cent of the property will be bought by an individual, with the rest co-owned by a local housing association.
The theory goes that by building BoKloks in a factory, where work cannot be interrupted by weather and when production-line techniques ensure fewer faults, construction costs are cut by up to 40 per cent compared with conventional "on-site" methods.
In Scotland and northern England, land prices are relatively low. Therefore, build costs form a large share of a property's price. As a result, cheaper BoKlok-style building will directly lead to lower-priced homes. In southern England, land costs much more. Cheaper building will, therefore, make a proportionately smaller impact on overall price.
Ikea's new home is not the first sortie into so-called modular building techniques in Britain. The country's second-largest house builder Barratt Homes is working with Terrapin, a firm that specialises in pre-fabricated sheds and warehouses. They are building a factory in Northamptonshire that ultimately aims to build 10 modular homes a day.
"Our objective is to build weather-tight shells with high levels of energy efficiency, the minimum number of defects, less waste, more safety and speed in the construction process," says Barratt spokesman Harold Walker.
Again, these will be targeted mainly at housing associations that will manage shared ownership schemes, or at first-time buyers for whom price is the critical factor.
But modular construction is not by definition restricted to the lower end of the market. In 2003, famous-daughter Carol Thatcher was one of the first people in the UK to have a pre-fabricated penthouse, winched on to the top of her Chelsea home by another Scandinavian firm, First Penthouse. The "storey" was made in Sweden and shipped to London.
Whether aimed at the high or low market sectors, modular homes will hold their value. Research by British property consultancy Savills suggests that modular-made homes appreciate in line with mainstream homes.
Ikea, it seems, has another winner on its hands. And this time, it isn't down to the buyer to put it together.
More details on BoKlok housing from; First Penthouse on 020 7584 9894,; Barratt and Terrapin Advance Housing on 01327 701200,