Page last updated at 08:03 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 09:03 UK

A 'one-night' house for America

Ty Unnos
The Ty Unnos, which is now being tested, will be shipped to the US shortly

An affordable housing project inspired by an old Welsh tradition is being prepared for shipping to a prestigious festival in the United States.

The Ty Unnos scheme - literally "house in one night" - hopes to provide wood-frame starter homes.

Its backers, the woodland charity Coed Cymru, have been invited to show a design at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC.

The festival has chosen Wales as the country it will feature in 2009.

Historically, a tŷ unnos was a Welsh tradition based on the belief that if you could erect a property with four walls, and have smoke coming from a chimney between sunset and sunrise, you could take ownership of that land.

Tŷ Hyll, The Ugly House
Tŷ Unnos translates as "house in one night".
The Welsh tradition is based on a belief that if you could erect a property between sunset and sunrise, with four walls and smoke coming from a fire through the chimney, you took freehold of the land.
Legend has it you could stand on each corner and claim ownership of the land as far as you could throw an axe in each direction
The Snowdonia Society's offices are believed to be a tŷ unnos, called Tŷ Hyll, The Ugly House.
The story goes that the Ugly House was built in one night by two outlawed brothers in the 15th Century - although it is more likely to be a 19th Century cottage for the tourist trail.
Source: The Snowdonia Society

While historians doubt it was ever a legally accepted practice, there are said to be numerous examples of houses built that way, including what is now the home to the Snowdonia Society near Betws-y-Coed, Conwy.

It is claimed that Tŷ Hyll, The Ugly House, was thrown up in one night by two outlawed brothers in the 15th century.

But the Welsh name for Coed Cymru's project is where the similarities with the "one-night" house end.

David Jenkins, Coed Cymru director, said their project used cutting edge technology to provide a low-cost wooden home that refuses to compromise on quality.

"It's just about as state-of-the art as you could get," insisted the director.

"The School of Architecture at Cardiff University have come up with the design from our original components for the building that will be going out to the States.

"Now, we are building it."

The project utilises Welsh spruce beams to form frames and stud walls, which is then manufactured by Oswestry company Elements Europe.

Coed Cymru, which is based at Newtown, Powys, hopes that in the future, its houses will provide an affordable and environmentally sustainable way of producing starter homes for Wales.

Once the latest design is put together to ensure it all fits, it will be taken apart, packed and shipped to Washington DC for the festival at the end of June.

"This is a unique opportunity to showcase Ty Unnos because the Smithsonian Folklife Festival features only one country each year, which means that Wales' turn will not come around again in our lifetime," added Mr Jenkins.

"We are very proud to be taking part in the festival, which will raise the profile of Ty Unnos and of Wales."

The annual folklife festival in Washington DC attracts around 1m visitors, and will host an area the size of four football pitches showcasing Welsh culture and innovation.

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