Wood: The Latest Architecture and News
Across the globe, tall wood structures have begun transforming the world of skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, ushering in an important shift to an architectural practice that has traditionally been dominated by steel and concrete. Typically defined as wood-constructed buildings over 14 stories or 50 meters high, the past six years have seen over 44 tall wood buildings built or underway around the world. Notable examples include Michael Green Architecture and DLR Group’s T3 and Team V Architectuur’s upcoming 73 meter residential tower HAUT.
A vault is a constructive technique that is achieved by compressing the materials forming it together. While this technique has existed since the time of the ancient Romans, certain types of vaulted ceilings, such as the Catalan or Valencian timbral vault, only reached popularity in some areas of the world at the start of the 19th century thanks to their lost cost and ready availability. With the ability to span over 30 meters and add substantial height to structures, vaulted ceilings became a go-to for the construction of industrial spaces such as workshops, factories, and warehouses.
Due to its specific characteristics, the architecture of the sauna is interesting because it gives us lessons related to efficiency and the beauty of simplicity. These are generally very basic structures with a clear function, created to contain different levels of heat and humidity. Thanks to this steam bath, people can release toxins and improve their blood circulation. In addition, they are widely used in cold climates, in close proximity to nature and utilizing the presence of water.
To function, these normally airtight spaces contain a series of internal benches with different dimensions and a heat source that must reach temperatures between 80 and 90°C, including, if necessary, a chimney to expel the smoke. Wood is the material par excellence for saunas, using in most cases native species that maintain their rustic appearance and natural texture. Next, we review 9 saunas designed by architects, including some of their construction details.
Yes, we know. We have been talking a lot about carbon. Not only here, but everywhere people seem to be discussing the greenhouse effect, carbon dioxide, fossil fuels, carbon sequestration, and several other seemingly esoteric terms that have increasingly permeated our daily lives. But why is carbon so important and why do we, as architects, architecture students, or architecture enthusiasts, have to care about something that seems so intangible?
Structural timber is in the midst of a renaissance; an ironic trend given that timber is arguably the most ancient of building materials. But new innovations in structural timber design have inspired a range of boundary-pushing plans for the age-old material, including everything from bridges to skyscrapers. Even more crucially, these designs are on the path to realization, acceding to building codes that many (mistakenly) view as restrictive to the point of impossibility.
The timber structures of today aren't just breaking records - they're doing it without breaking the rules.
Wood is, without a doubt, one of the most versatile building materials there is. Treated lumber, boards, composites, or rustic hardwood, have structural and visual qualities that attract architects and clients searching for a wide range of possible applications and designs. Logs are one of the oldest ways of using this material since they require very little treatment and processing after the tree is cut and are the most natural form of lumber.
Rustic lumber is often used in vacation homes, but not only for this purpose. Below, we have gathered Brazilian houses that use rustic wood elements either in their structure or walls and finishings.
The rising popularity of mass timber products in Canada and the United States has led to a rediscovery of fundamentals among architects. Not least Indigenous architects, for whom engineered wood offers a pathway to recover and advance the building traditions of their ancestors. Because timber is both a natural, renewable resource and a source of forestry jobs, it aligns with Indigenous values of stewardship and community long obscured by the 20th century’s dominant construction practices.
Timber’s Prefab Advantage: How Offsite Prefabrication and Wood Construction can Boost Quality and Construction Speed
Prefabrication is not a new concept for architects, but its usage is evidently on the rise. With today’s limited spatial capacity and need for cost efficiency, the industrial strategy of architectural production has shifted towards an all-around-efficient approach, in some cases assembling projects in a matter of days or weeks .
Prefabricated wood components, used in both wooden frames and mass timber constructions, have helped solve many design and engineering challenges. In addition to material and time efficiency, reduced waste, and cost control , prefabricated wood elements offer the advantages of high performing and energy efficient passive designs .
The Unhão complex, constructed in Salvador, Brazil in the 17th century, consisted of a sugar mill with a big house, chapel, and slave quarters. At the time, Salvador was one of the largest and most important Brazilian cities, and its port was the site of a large portion of the Portuguese colony's sugar exports, an economy fueled primarily by slave labor. The ensemble drew the attention of Italian-Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi at her first visit in 1958, during which she spent some years working and teaching in the city. Following Bo Bardi's decisive contributions, the buildings were restored and became the new home of the Museum of Popular Art and the Popular University. But within the whole complex, the element that draws the most attention for its plasticity, functionality, and symbolism is the helical wooden staircase.
Le Corbusier's fascination with the automobile is evident in the architect's various photographic records of him posing proudly next to a car in front of his architectural work. According to the Franco-Swiss architect, in addition to enabling more efficient and economical construction, the industrialization of architecture could form the basis of improved aesthetic results in the same way the modern car chassis supports the creative and modern design of the automobile body. Yet, while vehicles have experienced impressive changes since the 1930s, it can be said that architecture has been slower to adopt the advances of other industries.
But that has been changing little by little. Driven by concerns around sustainability, the use of non-renewable fossil resources, and efficiency, coupled with accelerating demand to build new buildings and more accessible infrastructure, the construction industry has been incorporating numerous new technologies, including those adopted from other industries. In addition, renewable materials such as wood have been identified as an ideal construction material—especially when incorporating innovative mass timber products such as CLT and glulam, design methods and processes like BIM and DfMA, tools for visualization such as VDC, and tools for manufacturing such as CNC. We know, these are a lot of acronyms, but we will try to clarify them throughout this article.
Metaphorically, building bridges equates to creating new opportunities, connections, and paths. The first bridges likely formed naturally with logs falling across rivers and natural depressions, though humans have also been building rudimentary structures to overcome obstacles since prehistory. Today, technological advances have made it possible to erect bridges that are both impressive and sculptural, playing a key role in transportation and connectivity. Usually needing to overcome large spans, with few points of support, bridges can be quite difficult to structure. But when is the bridge more than a connection between two points, instead resembling a building with a complex program? How can these 'bridge houses' be structured?
Tall timber buildings are on the rise. Design teams around the world are taking advantage of ever-evolving mass timber technologies, resulting in taller and taller structures. Building off our recent article exploring the future of high-rise buildings, we’re taking a deeper dive into new emerging timber technologies and the advantages of building taller with wood. This tutorial explores how to make tall timber structures a reality.