Structures, finishes and frameworks: all the ways to use wood in a structure

Structures, finishes and frameworks: all the ways to use wood in a structure

One of the first elements used by man to build shelters, wood is a versatile material that, along with technological advances, remains a protagonist in the construction industry, being used in different ways and at different times of construction. ‘an artwork.

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In human history, wood was first used in combination with animal skins and rocks to build shelters to protect people from weather and predators. Knowledge of these techniques dates back to the beginnings of humanity and has improved over time and with the advancement of technology, always linked to a specific geographical area. Just as the use of wood depends on both the climate and the species available locally, technological advances have also developed locally.

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Casa de Madeira / Ultra Architects. Image © Przemyslaw Turlej

In colder climate locations, the use of wood as the primary structure has historically been more common, due to its thermal inertia which helps keep heat inside. There are also ancient wood cutting and joining practices practiced in places like Japan that reinforce the structure with ancestral knowledge. The use of wood as the main structure of the construction industry, however, lost priority as the practices of steel and reinforced concrete advanced after the industrial revolution.

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Casa Phase Dance / Takeshi Hirobe Architects. Photo © Koichi Torimura

Currently, wood has applications at all stages of construction, being used in structural support, secondary structures and permanent construction elements. This diversity of use is also reflected in the shape of the raw material: wood can be found natural (round), cut and straightened into structural pieces, molded for specific purposes, such as framing, and even into planks for finishing. floors, walls and furniture.

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House and Studio Khiankhai / Sher Maker. Image © Rungkit Charoenwat

Temporary structures

Many stages of construction use wood as temporary or secondary structures, which serve as a support for the development of a service, such as the templates in the marking of the first points of the structure, the shoring of a structure, or as formwork. for pillars, beams or slabs. In these cases, the pieces of wood are usually cut into standardized sizes, such as battens and planks, and nailed. There are also cases of long-term temporary structures, such as fences and guardrails that provide construction security.

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© Fernando Stankuns on VisualHunt

Permanent structure

Wood is used as the main structure, both in its natural form, with massive trunks, and in the form of frames and self-supporting wooden panels. Although they are less used nowadays, wooden structures have seen great technological advances in recent years, with new materials such as glued laminates which have succeeded in structuring increasingly tall buildings, representing a possibility interesting constructive system for the future. In addition to being applied as a general structure, wood can also be used as a permanent structure that complements the building, such as a wooden staircase, or even the roof structure.

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Building of Brock Commons. . Image © KK Law. Courtesy of Naturalwood

building elements

With the accumulation of techniques for manipulating this material, wood is widely used for specific construction elements, such as window frames, shade elements or furniture. Whether windows, doors or gates, interior or exterior, it is in the frames that the use of wood is most visible, being a material divided and molded to produce door frames and leaves of different patterns.

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Casa NU / Chris Luce. Image © Ana Paula Alvarez

Finishing

Wood as a finish can be used to cover interior or exterior walls, or as a floor, in the form of solid pieces or integrated into laminates. It can also be applied as a coating in environments in the form of patches. To act as a finish, the wood must be properly treated both against weathering, if left outside the building, and against possible pests such as termites.

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Hotel Kumu Kanazawa / Yusuke Seki. Image © Takumi Ota

Present in almost all phases and parts of a work, wood is one of the most versatile materials in civil construction. In addition, it is also one of the most accessible materials, whether for its cost or for handling techniques, which are learned quickly. With the impact that materials such as cement and steel have on the environment, new technologies involving wood have been the big bet of civil construction in recent years. Thanks to advances in its production processes, wood has the potential to resume its role as a more sustainable alternative to building materials.

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DCPL Southwest Library / Perkins and Will. Image © James Steinkamp Photography