Timber houses are rustic, elegant or intelligent. And frequently all three together. Rustic because solid wooden beams resting on one another create a log structure which radiates the feeling of security that humans have valued in homes down through the ages.
Elegant because increasing numbers of architects have turned to this ancient building material and created contemporary styles that make wooden facades ideally suited to urban settings. And intelligent because wooden houses offer exceptional thermal insulation thanks to their wall structure. When combined with ecological housing technology (which many manufacturers of prefabricated houses offer as standard), this represents an outstanding investment in a healthy future.
Pollutant emissions during the production of this building material are comparatively low, while energy consumption during the construction of a timber house is also minimal. Furthermore, the need to use chemical wood preservatives has now been largely eliminated thanks to new methods of drying the wood. According to surveys, 94 per cent of German citizens regard wood as extremely comfortable and “exceptionally healthy”, so it’s no wonder that that positive image of the building material also translates into hard figures: Over the past ten years, the market share of wood has doubled ‑ accounting for no less than 15 per cent of all houses built in Germany.
In comparison to its weight, it can support 14 times as much as steel and offers the same pressure-resistance as reinforced concrete. However, since timber beams can now also be permanently glued together in multiple layers, architects can now avail of stable beams with very large spans, which enable the realisation of large-scale design concepts. While many clients are particularly attracted by the natural appeal of a log cabin or a rustic wooden façade, others don’t want to miss out on the advantages of a wooden house in terms of building biology and ecology, but would prefer a more contemporary urban style. For resourceful designers and house manufacturers, it’s not a problem: In combination with other high-quality materials such as glass and stainless steel, wood can now serve as the basis for realising every imaginable design requirement. One particularly positive factor in the context of the current malaise affecting the construction sector is the low price of wood.
The most common construction methods, particularly for prefabricated house construction, are timber-frame and closed wooden panel construction. These methods benefit in particular from the cost-effective possibilities offered by factory prefabrication. These standardised construction systems are based on a slim supporting framework, which is braced with chipboard or plywood panels. In the case of wooden frame construction, a variant of timber housing construction, the load-bearing function is provided by only one horizontal supporting beam and the supports, which allows great freedom in floor plan designs. The classic variant of half-timbered construction is load-bearing timber stud construction, which is assembled on-site, mortised and filled in the traditional manner. However, many half-timbered houses are now prefabricated in the factory.
It has a low heat transition coefficient, which means that a wooden façade only needs relatively little thermal insulation. And another little known fact is that wood provides significantly better thermal insulation than blocks.
6.5 cm of soft wood has the same insulation effect as 40 cm of solid brick. Wood is also inherently suited for use as protection against the vagaries of the weather. At the same time, manufacturers and scientists are working on further improvements to this material that has proven itself for centuries. (Article from “Immobilen-Markt” No. 246 22/23. October 2005)
This residential building is located close to our office. It was constructed using the timber skeleton construction method. As our colleague Mr. Teske lives here, it can viewed by prior arrangement.