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Bourbon Lane (AJ Building Study 20.09.07)

Timber boarding is just an ‘empty’ green gesture

Cartwright Pickard and B+C Architectes’ Bourbon Lane scheme looks great in the photographs (Building Study, AJ 20.09.07), but the large expanse of larch boarding makes me wonder what it will look like in a few years time and how Octavia Housing will maintain it.
Timber boarding has been the essential cliché in schemes for many years now and, travelling around London, nearly every project shows that, in reality, an architect’s ideal of a sustainable material gradually weathering to a soft grey or whatever often becomes a mixture of brown, dirty grey and black; the latter often occurring where endgrain is beginning to deteriorate, and always where the urban air has shown its true content.
It is unfortunate that we are sacrificing durability of appearance and maintenance in the name of fake ‘sustainability’.
John Bryer, London NW5

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