TIMBER HYBRID : EVOLUTION VERSUS REVOLUTION OF TIMBER STRUCTURES
After the First World War, Britain experienced its lowest ever coverage of forest, with only 5% land coverage in the UK. The demand for affordable and quick to construct post war housing increased dramatically, placing further stain on the already dwindling timber reserves. As a result of the Forestry Commission’s efforts in 1916 in forestry management and due to the ‘panic planting period’ at the beginning of the 20th century, the UK now sits on a 12% land coverage of forest.
Timber frame construction only currently accounts for an 8% market share and, whilst the UK is only 20% self-sufficient in timber supply for the construction industry, this figure is set to double over the next 15 years. The mass plantation efforts at the beginning of the 1920s and the more controlled approach to forestry management concludes that the UK could potentially be sitting on a gold mine of wood in the coming few years.
Our current outlook on the future of architecture constructed in timber is still based on ideas from previous practices and techniques, with very few systems contradicting this methodology. One of the objectives of this study is an attempt to learn from these historical applications and examine a new way of thinking, to meet new guidelines, whilst still competitively responding to our future architectural ambitions.
Highlighting momentary revolutions, alongside a demonstration of the gradual evolution, in how the use of wood is considered in buildings has so far become one of the most important aspects of this study. The result has focused on a consideration of the points in history that have highlighted gaps in the methodological progression of both the market and construction principles.
Designing a system that has the ability to filter down through the different scales of construction and propose a set of accessible and universal guidelines and parameters for the growing self-build market is a primary aim of this study. The hierarchy has been shifted towards the importance of modular framed structures and the way in which the interfaces of these could define a different appropriation to an architectural condition.
The intention is to interrogate architecture as a simple sets of planes that working together and meet to define and contain space. The level of refinement that can be achieved from the framework and accumulative design process is to be thought of as a core focus. Whilst also developing an understanding towards an unprecedented system of prefabricated timber components that questions the fundamental principles of threshold, enclosure, connection and form.
By stripping architecture back to the fundamental physical and metaphorical dispositions of the joint, and by proposing a reconsideration to the principles of prefabricated hierarchy in timber design, the use of standardised materials and a new application of knowledge can begin to suggest a shift towards a new system of production.
Through an exploration of the social, technical and physical parameters for building in timber, the proposition will suggest an idea for a new system, one that proposes a remodelling to the way in which we consider the role of timber within the future of our architecture.