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Wood Architecture & Design

Horyu-ji Buddhist wooden Temple Nara Japan

Originally built between the 7th century and 8th century AD, the Buddhist temple complex of Hōryū-Ji  near Nara, Japan, is generally considered to comprise the oldest wooden buildings in the world; photo: Jim Thoburn

Wood is probably the first construction material used by human beings.
Especially in those areas in which stone is a rare resource, timber architecture has been developed for centuries in the most diverse and ingenious forms and techniques.

Timber is a lightweight, robust, elastic, cheap, and ubiquitous material to build with.
From ancient Greece (perhaps not all know that the forms of the classic Greek temples were actually a sort of “petrified” version of a preceding wooden architecture) to traditional Chinese temples, from Venetian monumental timber vaults to American balloon framing, wood has been the preferred construction material of civilizations in the whole planet since the dawn of mankind.

Palazzo Ragione Padua timber vault

The great hull-shaped wooden vault of the Palazzo della Ragione in Padua, designed by architect Giovanni degli Eremitani in 1306; photo courtesy of Expo Veneto

Leigh Court cruck framed barn

The Leigh Court ten-bay cruck-framed barn in Leigh, England, built ca. 1325; photo courtesy of English Heritage

Saint Catherine's Church Honfleur

Built in the 15th century using traditional ship-building techniques, the Saint Catherine’s Church in Honfleur, France, is one of the most remarkable examples of wooden religious buildings; photo: Cristiano Oliveira

Balloon frame house Nebraska 1877

Balloon frame house under construction, Omaha Reservation, Nebraska, 1877. Photo by William Henry Jackson; The National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Yet, in the early 20th century most modern architects were eager to use more “evolved” materials, such as reinforced concrete, and steel, with few exceptions such as in Japanese and Finnish architecture.

In the last years, the quest for sustainable building solutions and the growing consensus toward bio-architecture have helped a revamp of wooden buildings and furniture, though in contemporary forms, as well as the development of innovative and advanced wood harvesting, manufacturing, and design techniques.

We present here a collection of the most interesting and inspirational examples of timber architecture – of any size, from tiny to gigantic – as well as of product and furniture design we are featuring on Inexhibit.

Cover image: the Pavilion of China at EXPO Milan 2015; photo: Inexhibit



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our articles about Wood Architecture & Design

A+ Architecture | Lucien Cornil Student Residence. 8-storey CLT building

A+ Architecture | Lucien Cornil Student Residence. 8-storey CLT building

Designed by French design agency A+Architecture, the Lucien Cornil student residence is an eight-storey timber building located in Marseille
case-studies
Beautour | Biodiversity center and museum

Beautour | Biodiversity center and museum

The Museum & Biodiversity Centre in Beautour is an institution focused on biodiversity located in the Pays de la Loire designed by Guinée * Potin architects
case-studies
Bologna | The Seed – temporary pavilion

Bologna | The Seed – temporary pavilion

The seed is the project by Ciclostile architects for an open-air temporary pavilion made in timber, in many aspects exemplary of such type of structures
case-studies
Centre Pompidou Metz

Centre Pompidou Metz

Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, the Centre Pompidou Metz is an art center, branch of the Centre Pompidou Paris in Lorraine, north-eastern France
mymuseum
Design – the magic world of Joseph Walsh

Design – the magic world of Joseph Walsh

Despite his relatively young age, Joseph Walsh is one of the most influential figures of contemporary design and a recognized master of wood furniture art
case-studies
Istanbul | Tri-Fold installation by Alper Derinboğaz

Istanbul | Tri-Fold installation by Alper Derinboğaz

The Tri-Fold installation designed by Turkish architect Alper Derinboğaz for the Volkswagen Arena Istanbul is a fascinating parametric form made in plywood
case-studies
London |  Serpentine Summer House 2016 by Barkow Leibinger

London | Serpentine Summer House 2016 by Barkow Leibinger

Barkow Leibinger designed their Summer House in Kensington Gardens, London, for Serpentine Galleries as a round-shaped open structure made of plywood loops
case-studies
London | Asif Khan’s Serpentine Summer House 2016

London | Asif Khan’s Serpentine Summer House 2016

For his design for the Serpentine Summer House 2016 program, British architect Asif Khan conceived a sun-responsive curvilinear "tea house" made in timber
case-studies
London | Plywood: Material of the Modern World at the Victoria & Albert Museum

London | Plywood: Material of the Modern World at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Light, strong and versatile: from July 15, V&A Museum presents the history of plywood in a new exhibition exploring a material that “made the modern world”
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Makoko Floating School II by Kunlé Adeyemi – NLÉ

Makoko Floating School II by Kunlé Adeyemi – NLÉ

The revised Makoko Floating School II by Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi, from NLÉ, winner of the Silver Lion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016
case-studies
Milan – EXPO 2015 | Pavilion of France

Milan – EXPO 2015 | Pavilion of France

The pavilion of France at EXPO 2015 by XTU architects and Studio Rispal resembles a covered market where present and future of food production are presented
case-studies
Milan Design Week 2017 | Inhabits: micro-architecture prototypes at Parco Sempione

Milan Design Week 2017 | Inhabits: micro-architecture prototypes at Parco Sempione

Inhabits - Milan Design Village presents at Parco Sempione 5 prototypes of modular and sustainable micro-houses, emergency shelters, and urban pavilions
case-studies
Milan EXPO 2015 | Latvia pavilion preview

Milan EXPO 2015 | Latvia pavilion preview

The timber pavilion of Latvia at EXPO 2015 Milan by MADE arhitekti testifies the attention of the country to environmental...
case-studies
Milan EXPO 2015 | Pavilion of Spain

Milan EXPO 2015 | Pavilion of Spain

Designed by B720 Fermìn Vàzquez Arquitectos, the timber and steel pavilion of Spain at EXPO 2015 presents the Spanish territory, products and gastronomy
case-studies
Milan | Camera Chiara by Annabel Karim Kassar

Milan | Camera Chiara by Annabel Karim Kassar

Camera Chiara is an installation, designed by Annabel Karim Kassar in the framework of the “Energy for Creativity” inspired by the culture of Lebanon
case-studies
Milan | EXPO 2015 | Land of Hope – China pavilion

Milan | EXPO 2015 | Land of Hope – China pavilion

The China pavilion at EXPO 2015 Milan designed by Tsinghua University-Studio Link-Arc is an intriguing vision of a "Land of Hope" where city and nature meet
case-studies
Norwegian Wild Reindeer Pavilion – Viewpoint Snøhetta

Norwegian Wild Reindeer Pavilion – Viewpoint Snøhetta

The iron and timber Wild Reindeer observation pavilion designed by Snøhetta in central Norway is an example of how good architecture often relies on simplicity
case-studies
Parametric 3D modeling for the Pauhu pavilion

Parametric 3D modeling for the Pauhu pavilion

The Pauhu temporary pavilion was realized as a part of Tampere Architecture Week, Finland, with state-of-art digital design and wood fabrication processes
case-studies
Paris | The (fully recycled) Circular Pavilion by Encore Heureux

Paris | The (fully recycled) Circular Pavilion by Encore Heureux

The Pavillon Circulaire, a building entirely made of recycled materials, will be installed by the Pavillon de L'Arsenal in front of the City Hall of Paris
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Paris | “BAM” modular building system on view at Pavillon de l’Arsenal

Paris | “BAM” modular building system on view at Pavillon de l’Arsenal

Until late July 2015, the Pavillon de L'Arsenal, Paris' center for architecture, showcases a prototype of BAM System, a new construction system for self-sufficient modular buildings, developed by Biotopes Architecture & Design.
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Pavilion of the People’s Republic of China – Venice Architecture Biennale 2016

Pavilion of the People’s Republic of China – Venice Architecture Biennale 2016

"Daily Design, Daily Tao", in the pavilion of the People's Republic of China, is one of the best exhibitions at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale
case-studies
Poissy Galore – Insects Museum and Visitor Center  | AWP + HHF

Poissy Galore – Insects Museum and Visitor Center | AWP + HHF

Nominated for the Mies Van Der Rohe Award 2017, the Poissy Galore Insects Museum designed by AWP + HHF combines contemporary architecture and rural culture
case-studies
Shigeru Ban’s new Aspen Art Museum

Shigeru Ban’s new Aspen Art Museum

The Aspen Art Museum opened on Summer 2014 its new home, designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban
case-studies
Studio Mumbai creates bamboo MPavilion 2016 in Melbourne

Studio Mumbai creates bamboo MPavilion 2016 in Melbourne

Indian Studio Mumbai - Bijoy Jain designed a 12 meter-high temporary pavilion made in bamboo to be installed in 2016 in Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne
case-studies
T Space Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, NY | Steven Holl Architects

T Space Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, NY | Steven Holl Architects

T Space Rhinebeck is a cultural center and art gallery - located in Dutchess County, New York - which also includes three buildings designed by Steven Holl
mymuseum
The Museum Of Wood Culture

The Museum Of Wood Culture

The Museum Of Wood Culture ( 兵庫県 木の殿堂) is a museum designed by Tadao Ando in the Kansai region, Japan, focused on the cultural role of forests and wood
mymuseum
The Velvet State Pavilion in Roskilde

The Velvet State Pavilion in Roskilde

The Velvet State is a temporary pavilion made in plywood realized by Hjermind Jensen / SHJWORKS Architectural team for the Roskilde Festival in Denmark
case-studies
Umeå | Bildmuseet – the contemporary North

Umeå | Bildmuseet – the contemporary North

The Bildmuseet art center, by Henning Larsen Architects with its tall, wood-clad and fascinating appearance has become a landmark...
case-studies
Vo Trong Nghia – Bamboo Stalactite Pavilion | 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale

Vo Trong Nghia – Bamboo Stalactite Pavilion | 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale

At the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale, Vietnamese architect Vo Trong Nghia presents a beautiful temporary pavilion, named Bamboo Stalactite, entirely made in bamboo
case-studies

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