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leisure design & build bulletin - May 2020

Six reasons why is timber construction is booming in popularity
The Stable Company

Six reasons why is timber construction is booming in popularity

Long since popular in the Nordic countries, timber construction is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance. Whether a large or small commercial scheme, a home office, a school classroom, a horse stable or something else, timber is increasingly seen as the modern building method.

Here’s six reasons why...

1. Sustainable

Global warming is, quite rightly, an inescapable issue - individuals, businesses and governments are frantically looking for ways we can mitigate the damage we’re doing to our planet.

So, when the UN Environment Program informs us that construction accounts for 39% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, the reasons behind timber’s rise in popularity become a lot more clear. Timber is by far the most environmentally-friendly way to build.

Timber, as well as being 100% renewable (more trees can always be planted), is a carbon-sequestering material; it stores carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, releasing it back without surplus. This contrasts to extractative building methods, such as brick or steel, which are much more energy intensive.

2. Adaptable

Simply put, there’s scarcely a building design imaginable that isn’t possible to realise with timber. Whether a hotel drinks bar, luxury arts & crafts centre, golf lodge or even a hotel complex, there’s evidence of timber’s capabilities everywhere.

It’s not just the architectural possibilities, either. Timber buildings can be made bespoke to users with a range of internal features and customisations - we’re not talking about those prefabricated, modular buildings. Indeed, there’s even been talk of timber-framed high rises!

3. Optimal thermal performance

Timber is a hygroscopic material. Within its material structure, there are small air pockets, which allow the material to better exchange heat with the outside. This cellular structure also helps the buildings to retain heat. Because timber buildings moderate their heat better, they are generally more comfortable for users.

4. Good-looking

There’s no getting away from it, in almost any setting, a tastefully-designed and clad timber building is always right at home. It can blend seamlessly into woodland, for example, but also provide a subtle, welcome contrast in urban landscapes.

5. Hidden benefits...

Humans are biophilic creatures, meaning we have an innate natural attraction to timber. It makes sense, after all - we evolved with, and depending on nature for our survival. Studies have shown that buildings with biophilic design properties can reduce our blood pressure, stress levels, cholesterol and improve our mood and self esteem.

6. Friendly on pursestrings

Let’s not beat about the bush; cost is always a consideration. As a general rule, commercial and other building projects, whether large but especially small, come in at a cheaper cost when undertaken with timber.

Not only that, but because timber has excellent thermal properties, the buildings stay warmer through the cold winter months, but cooler during summer, reducing reliance on central heating and cooling - another cost plus point.

With physiological bonuses for humans, unlimited architectural possibilities as well as ‘green’ credentials, it’s clear timber is proving itself as one our most important building materials of the future - a key tool in mitigating climate change, whilst providing high-tech, modern buildings.

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