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