Building with nature

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningpeer review


Wood has been an essential building material for almost all civilisations over the world. The variety of wooden species, climatic and biological difference, and cultural development and social prosperity have, among other things, formed truly unique tooling and craftsmanship tradition for each part the world (Zwerger, 2011).
Historic Nordic wood constructions are characterised by a combination of rational efficiency and material respect. In Denmark, the more refined use of wood in construction starts with the Vikings’ shipbuilding. Already in the Viking age, high-quality oak was in short supply (Andersen, 1997). Due to this scarcity of materials, the Vikings’ developed their shipbuilding expertise to a series of methods and tools that optimised the use of oak both in terms of material strength and minimising of waste. These routines were naturally carried on to their house constructions. Consequently, the forms the building were giving reflects the dimensions and shapes of the natural timber and utilises the different parts of each tree for various useful purposes.
Today, the modern building industry is dominated by steel and concrete. Wood buildings have become an action of assembling standard sizes and geometries into uniform construction. This reality can, however, be challenged using modern technologies (Bianconi and Filippucci, 2019). Inspired by traditional know-how and methods, the authors of this paper have created a series of research-by-design experiments that explores wood construction methods using digital tools for design and machining. These experiments include naturally shaped oak – just like the Vikings’ ships and buildings. The operations explore how wood properties and shapes can directly inform the construction and expression of architecture.
This paper unfolds fundamental historical principles for Nordic wood construction, starting with the Viking age. Subsequently, the paper introduces the authors own contemporary experiments and discusses how historic Nordic wood building traditions can help define and influence current and future Nordic wood industry and architecture.
While wood is nominated to be the sustainable solution to a current building industry with a heavy environmental impact, a shift to wood-based construction might not be unproblematic. Today’s forestry is already affecting biodiversity, and the processing of wood into building material is based on inflexible standards that do not pay much attention to the material itself. Waste and missed opportunities in terms of strength, material quality, and formal expressions are among the consequences.
In this paper, an outline of the potentials and problems of current practice is used to frame a series of research experiments. The research experiments seek to connect computation and contemporary fabrication methods with material knowledge that were a part of our building culture in the past.
Publikationsdatosep. 2020
StatusUdgivet - sep. 2020
BegivenhedNAF/NAAR Symposium 2020
12th Annual Symposium of Architectural Research
: Northernness
- University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Varighed: 22 okt. 202023 okt. 2020


KonferenceNAF/NAAR Symposium 2020
12th Annual Symposium of Architectural Research
LokationUniversity of Oulu

Kunstnerisk udviklingsvirksomhed (KUV)

  • Nej