Norbord helps schoolchildren build their own house

Most school ‘make-and-do’ projects are conceived on a modest scale and often end up on display in the main foyer.

But at Burlington Danes Academy in White City, north London, there is a more ambitious project. They are building a house.

The SchoolHouse project is billed as a “practical, vocational project enabling pupils to build a sustainable, highly insulated timber house”.

Designed by Roderick James Architects, the house provides a focus for a variety of studies, ranging from science through art & design to business studies and, of course, construction.

The project is also a good lesson in fund-raising. And while the project is designed to be largely self-financing, several suppliers including Norbord have agreed to supply materials and services free of charge.

Norbord’s contribution is around £1,000 worth of its SterlingOSB oriented strand board. Made at the firm’s Inverness factory from home-grown wood fibre, SterlingOSB is renowned for its strength, durability and low environmental impact.

The OSB supplied to Burlington Danes is 9mm sheathing, used to line the timber frame panels which make up the building structure. SterlingOSB is the UK’s leading brand of OSB and forms a component part of most timber frame systems.

It is one of the most environmentally-sustainable building products available in the UK, as well as one of the most versatile.

The Inverness factory which produces SterlingOSB gets most of its wood from local forests in the form of thinnings – a by-product of sustainable forest management.

And the heat required by the factory’s thermal-oil presses is generated by an on-site biomass plant fuelled by process residues.

As well as providing a focus for various studies, the SchoolHouse project provides the students – many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds – with the opportunity to achieve something substantial, says architect Roderick James:

“It is very important for young people to understand that projects which they would consider to be huge are actually achievable.

“We want young people to get the self esteem, the self confidence and the sheer excitement of having done something for themselves.”

For further information on Norbord, please call 01786 812 921 or visit