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 counteracting this methodology. One of the objectives of this study is an attempt to learn from these historical applications and explore a new way of thinking, to meet new guidelines, whilst still competitively responding to our 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 production models and provide a set of guidelines or parameters for both the self-build market and for the mass production market is an aim of this study. The hierarchy has been shifted towards the importance of the joints that collectively make up planes within the architecture rather than the definition of many different types of threshold condition. This has created a possibility for a new system of methodology, one that could become accessible to the current and future major production models.
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, suggests a shift towards a new system of production. Through an exploration of the social, technical and physical parameters for building in timber, the idea for a new system proposes a remodelling to the way in which we consider the role of wood within the future of our architecture.