Drost + van Veen's education centre at Oostvaarderplassen shows why wood is good as a key structural element

Cross-laminated timber panels have been used to create a 7m cantilever for the imposing Oostvaarders building, an education centre for the Oostvaarderplassen, a nature reserve in Almere, in the Netherlands.

Designed by architecture practice Drost + van Veen, the 215m2 centre is situated over a dyke and timber was chosen for the main structural elements because of its lightweight and environmental characteristics.

The use of Finnforest Merk's Leno panels, which are prefabricated, helped to minimise disruption and kept construction time to a minimum.

“Because this is a building for visitors to the reserve to learn about the nature around them, we decided to implement a natural material which would fit with the environment,” explained Evelien van Veen. “The Leno panels enabled the construction of the long cantilever section whilst ensuring no additional loading was required for the site.”

The timber has been left untreated on the interior of the building, with the warm aesthetic of the wood providing the decorative finish.