User and public safety lead designs
All of Handspring Design’s youth shelter designs include structures which have clear sight lines ensuring that passers-by can see who is inside the shelter and users can also see passers-by. The Tunnel Hoop is good example of how Perspex walls can be used to create translucent walls. The design of the youth shelters are typically open-plan which provides a temporary weather protection, rather than fully water-proofing which can create enclosed spaces which reduce public safety.
Youth Shelters created by unique timber steam-bending
Handspring Design specialise in using a special timber steam bending technique commonly used for creating interior furniture. They specialise in adapting this process to create large scale outdoor youth shelters. Steam-bending uses steam to soften the timber which gives them minutes to bend it into the desired shape which allows them to create their signature organic forms.
Handspring Design use Oak and Douglas Fir [or European Larch] because they can be UK sourced from sustainable sawmills. FSC timber Oak is used sparingly but improves with durability over time. All the curvy structures are made from oak, with flooring and seating typically being constructed from fresh sawn as they steam and glue these into shape.
When possible, Douglas Fir is used for larger projects, which grows well in the UK and is light, strong, relatively durable and easy to work.Both of these timbers turn silver with long term exposure to UV.
High-quality construction – fixings
Quality fixings can minimise long-term maintenance costs for public realm managers. Handspring Design design shelters which detail as many timber to timber joints as possible. This means they depend less on fixings which can become surfaces for water to sit in. Where needed, they use stainless steel for oak and galvanised steel for Douglas Fir as these are exceptionally resistance to rust.
An important contributing factor to the youth shelter’s longevity is dependent on how the wooden structure is fixed to the ground. It’s generally best practice to keep the timber away from the ground by at least 200mm. This is the rain water ‘splash zone’. Handspring use galvanised steel flitch plates or box section ‘shoes’ to make the connection between timber and foundations, with drainage holes to let unwanted water escape. This minimises the risk of rotting.
Long-term durability against outdoor weathering
The youth shelters are designed to withstand years of harsh outdoor weathering. They avoid designing shelters with lots of flat, horizontal surfaces, which encourage rain water to sit in the fixings and on the surfaces, encouraging the wood to rot. Their designs include carefully thought out details which include slopes, angles and gaps ensuring that the rain water runs off and does not pool on the shelter.
About Handspring Design – Sustainability and Ethics
Based in Sheffield, their sustainable carpentry workshop is located in Ecclesall Woods and has been in business for over 20 years. This is where all of the outdoor youth shelters are made and are later flat packed and transported across the country to the construction site.
Creativity, sustainability and ethics run through the heart of everything they do. They scarcely use non-renewables, try to reuse materials wherever possible, use local labour, skills and suppliers and have bought all their employees bicycles to encourage greener transport.
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