Mechanical Wood

The Future of Structural Timber


Shigeru Ban, Club de golf Haesley Nine Bridges, Yeoju (Corea del Sur)

Timber is perhaps the oldest building material. It was the protagonist of mythical tales about the ‘primitive hut,’ and its widespread use since then, in both popular and cultured architecture, can be attributed to reasons having to do with plain common sense: wood’s being easy to shape, its capacity to take on very diverse formats and serve as cladding and structure at the same time, its being readily available, and of course its intrinsic resistance and the fact that the trunk of a tree is the only beam that nature spontaneously provides us with.

With regard to its structural applications, timber has since time immemorial been used in preparing the frameworks of footings, beams, and slabs, whether in sophisticated, complex elements like the lattices and roof frames of very large constructions, or in simple vernacular huts, erected with small stacks of trunks or, at best, modular structures of the balloon-frame kind...

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