When selecting materials for outdoor use, several key qualities are paramount. Outdoor materials must endure a range of weather conditions, including rain, snow, wind, and UV radiation from the sun. Durability is crucial, as it minimises maintenance needs and reduces both costs and environmental impact. Additionally, longevity is essential to decreasing the frequency of replacements, further conserving resources.

In today’s world, sustainability is more important than ever. The materials chosen for outdoor applications should therefore be responsibly sourced, recyclable, or have a low carbon footprint. This not only supports environmental conservation but also aligns with global efforts to combat climate change.

Historically, wood has often been overlooked for outdoor use due to its inherent limitations. Traditional wood is prone to decay, insect damage, weathering, and water absorption, which leads to swelling, warping, and cracking. These issues necessitate frequent maintenance and can result in the wood losing its structural integrity and aesthetic appeal over time.

Innovations in wood modification, such as the acetylation process used to create Accoya wood, have revolutionised its use in outdoor applications. By modifying the wood from surface to core, the acetylation process changes the cell structure, making Accoya highly resistant to decay and moisture, significantly extending its lifespan. This transforms fast-growing, sustainable softwoods into a durable material suitable for demanding outdoor applications.

By overcoming the historical limitations of traditional wood, innovative products like Accoya offer a viable and attractive option for outdoor use. Accoya combines the natural beauty of wood with enhanced performance characteristics, making it ideal for modern architectural and landscaping projects that demand both sustainability and durability.

An example of this is Gascoigne Park, located in Barking, London. This project aimed to create an inviting environment for young children that effortlessly blends functionality with aesthetic appeal.

Approximately 15 cubic metres of raw Accoya wood were used in the construction of Gascoigne Park. This FSC (C012330) certified material was sourced by Moveart, a supplier known for their innovative structures that integrate seamlessly with the natural environment.

Accoya is one of the few building materials to be Cradle to Cradle® Certified® Gold (Platinum for Material Health) in recognition of its circular economy benefits. Uncoated Accoya wood was chosen for Gascoigne Park due to its exceptionally high performance and barefoot-friendly nature, offering visitors a comfortable experience free from the risk of splinters. As a result, children can enjoy the play structure barefoot with no risk of splinters.

Landscape architect Turkington Martin focused on integrating Accoya wood into the landscape of Gascoigne Park. The architects recognised the unique long-lasting properties, highlighted by its impressive 50-year above ground warranty, and its minimal maintenance requirements. These high-performance benefits led to the specification of Accoya for various elements of the park’s design, contributing significantly to the project’s overall success.

Many softwoods require high levels of maintenance to preserve them, and sustainably sourced hardwoods are often challenging to find in good supply. Innovative processes and ways of naturally modifying timber, like Accoya’s acetylation process, enhance wood performance.

This project is particularly unique due to the inclusion of three object circles, which are the first moveable Moveart sculptures ever. They allow users to adapt common public spaces in their own individual way, reflecting the changing nature of each object.

Gascoigne Park stands as an innovative example of Accoya wood’s high performance and sustainability, ensuring it remains a timeless attraction for generations of children to enjoy for years to come.