Wooden house Norway Nature Sustainability

7 Fascinating Wood Houses Around the World

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The assumption that wood houses are not made to last is simply that: an assumption—and an incorrect one at that. The oldest wood building in the world is Japan’s Hōryū-ji pagoda, which has a cypress structure that is now more than 1,300 years old (it was first built in 607, then reconstructed following a fire in 670). In Norway, there is at least one wood house that researchers believe dates back to 1170 while another in Switzerland was built in 1176. And countless half-timbered houses based on a timber-rod structure are well over 400 years old. While wood-framed homes are common in America and Canada, there are plenty of reasons to consider using the material to a greater extent in new construction. 

Advantages of wood houses for the environment

Wood offers a whole range of advantages for climate-friendly architecture. Most notably, its net CO₂ output is significantly lower than that of many other building materials (especially when compared to concrete, which is responsible for around 10% of all manmade carbon dioxide). This advantage only grows if the wood comes from sustainable and, ideally, regional sources. 

Additionally, wood’s production does not require a high energy input, while trees absorb and store CO₂ from the atmosphere as they grow. The construction of a wood home is easier and faster than that of brick or concrete houses. Wood also has excellent insulating properties, which can be incorporated into a house’s design and improve the living environment both in summer and winter. 

Furthermore, wood is often pre-treated and processed, which makes construction possible regardless of the weather. Houses can be erected even under damp and cold conditions (something that is not true of houses that use poured concrete or mortar which take longer to set when it is cold or wet). And while the fear of fire may linger for some, most mass timber, which is often used in construction, is fireproof. 

The circular economy of wood

When a wood house reaches the end of its life, it has the advantage of being more easily recycled than steel or concrete. Wood houses can usually be broken down into their individual parts, which can then be reused or recycled more efficiently. Ideally, this produces minimal waste. The production of concrete, on the other hand, requires considerable amounts of water, gravel, cement, and sand—raw materials that can only be reused as fillers and rubble after demolition. Of course, the natural building material can also be aesthetically pleasing—just take a look at the following examples of particularly impressive wood houses.  

Saltviga by Kolman Boye Architects

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