Track 2: DESIGN - PLANNING THE CONSERVATION OF HISTORIC PLACES / Volet 2 : Conception - Planifier la conservation de lieux historiques

Replacement Infill Panels for Historic Timber-Frame Buildings in the UK: Interstitial Hygrothermal Monitoring using a Dual Climate Chamber

Friday, October 13
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

This presentation will focus on the interstitial hygrothermal monitoring, under laboratory conditions, of replacement infill panels for historic timber-framed buildings in the UK. A dual climate chamber has been used to simulate the internal and external environment on each side of the panel. This experiment has been made possible by the APT Martin Weaver Scholarship 2015.

Balancing the conservation of energy and the conservation of historic building fabric requires a detailed understanding of the hygrothermal performance of the building envelope both pre- and post-retrofit. Research to date has focused on the retrofit of solid masonry wall construction (Scott and Rye, 2014, Didem Aktas et al., 2015, Gandhi et al., 2012), whilst little has been written on timber-framed buildings. Today around 67,827 pre-1850 timber-framed buildings survive in the UK, with some dating back to the 12th century. These generally consist of timber structural frames with a panel infill. Typical traditional infill materials include wattle and daub, lath and plaster, and brick. Where complete renewal of this material is required due to extensive damage, decay, repair of surrounding timbers or the removal of inappropriate modern materials, there exists the opportunity to retrofit an alternative panel with a higher thermal resistance (Ogley, 2010). However, failure to fully understand the hygrothermal implications of the introduction modern infill materials could result in increased moisture content, interstitial condensation, differential movement, greater risk of frost damage and the creation of ideal conditions for fungal decay and insect infestation. Digital simulations with WUFI Pro5 of replacement infill details proposed by UK conservation bodies have not identified any detail that pose a major threat to the surrounding timber-framed construction (Whitman et al., 2015). However, these simulations only represent the moisture movement between idealized, homogenous, continuous layers of the infill materials and do not simulate the junction with the timber frame, nor the reality of heterogeneous and non-continuous layers present in actual constructions. At the same time, interstitial monitoring in case study buildings is problematic due to the necessary invasive, destructive testing and the loss of historic fabric. Last year in San Antonio the author presented the design and simulation of a physical test cell that will enable the monitoring of the interstitial hygrothermal conditions within proposed replacement infill panels. The development of this is ongoing. In the meantime, physical test panels are being monitored under controlled conditions between two climatic chambers. The real measured data is then compared with WUFI simulations to better identify potentially inappropriate solutions and help define best practice to ensure the ongoing use and conservation of historic timber-frame buildings in the UK.

Learning Objectives:

Christopher James. Whitman, B.Arch(Hons), Dip.Arch, Architect

Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University

Chris was the Martin Weaver Scholar of 2015. He is a British architect with 18 years in both practice and academia. Currently he is undertaking a PhD at the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff. His PhD research looks at the Low energy Retrofitting of Historic Timber-Framed Buildings in the UK.
Concurrently he is Deputy Course Leader of the school’s MSc in Sustainable Building Conservation. Prior to starting his PhD, Chris worked in Chile where his research included the hygrothermal performance of traditional adobe architecture, energy retrofitting, and the environmental comfort in the indigenous architecture of the Mapuche. On completion of his studies, Chris hopes to continue his research into the energy performance of heritage and vernacular architecture.


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Replacement Infill Panels for Historic Timber-Frame Buildings in the UK: Interstitial Hygrothermal Monitoring using a Dual Climate Chamber

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