A Short History of Wood-Based Architecture from the Past

Wood has been one of the most popular building materials ever since the dawn of civilization. Unlike the Colosseum, the numerous grandioso gothic cathedrals, and the gorgeous roads of ancient Rome, wood hasn't survived much throughout the centuries.

That doesn't mean that some gorgeous buildings were not constructed using this material. While the later civilization has found out that wood is best used as an accessory or a side building material, the internal infrastructure of many gorgeous buildings is still furnished with wood.

You're rarely going to go to the woods and find a brick-and-mortar house, but you're much more likely going to stumble upon a log cabin. That is the cultural significance of wood put into play. It has been our choice material for connecting with nature and establishing a natural, in-tune, even primal connection with our surroundings.

Wood As A Construction Material

While wood might be one of the most aesthetically pleasing materials around and is relatively easy to work with, it's not known for its durability. Any single wood structure throughout history that has survived to this day was subject to numerous restorations, refurbishments, and complete renovation.

One such example is the historically significant neolithic longhouse. As the name suggests, this form of the building was popular back in the neolithic era of humanity. It has quite a lot of historical, architectural, and building significance.

The houses were constructed 4-5 thousand years ago, and the excavations in Oslonki, Poland, have revealed their existence. It begs the question of exactly how long wood was a primary construction material for humanity. The answer is quite simple. Even to this day, different wood structures are constructed, refurbished, and well kept.

Modern wood construction has evolved to such a degree that traditional issues with wooden structures have pretty much evaporated. Twisted wood, splitting, and general degradation have been prolonged as much as possible.

On the other hand, wood has quite a lot of different virtues associated with its capabilities as a building material. It has quite a lot of thermal isolation properties, making it one of the greatest isolators of the past.

Its properties are all that a medieval construction worker needed to construct a homey, natural, and comfortable household. Wood is also incredibly available since it grows on trees. It can be harvested and refined without much effort.

Its material properties are also very acoustic, meaning that it has been the favorite interior building material for any place that requires pristine acoustics, such as the awe-inspiring Wooden Churches of Maramureș.

The Wooden Churches of Maramureș are located in Romania and have stood since the 17th century. Because of their material nature and Romanian tradition of preserving places of worship, these churches have gone through numerous renovations. They've also been introduced into UNESCO as World Heritage Sites for their beauty and historical significance.

The Issues of Wood-Based Architectural Enders

Wood isn't the best material around when it comes to durability, and it should come without question that they have a relatively short lifespan compared to other building materials.

The average life expectancy for a wooden structure is anywhere from 100-150 years, so a lot of essential structures from history have been lost to the times. The issue with this is that the average human lifespan is shorter than woods, meaning that the houses, in most cases, outlive their residents.

That leaves an old, run-down structure to the heirs, which they more often than not opt to demolish instead of the preserve. The preservation and refurbishment of wood are relatively expensive, mining that it's much more cost-effective to demolish the structure simply.

Now, this isn't always the case, as numerous religious places like the aforementioned Wooden Churches of Maramureș were reserved throughout the centuries.

Wood also has one significant issue that we haven't mentioned before, and that's its capability to catch fire. Fire is the arch-enemy of wood, as wood serves as an excellent fuel source for the fire, especially when it's combined with many lacquers and different preservation materials that are applied to it.

Studies show that the world's most famous fire, the great fire of London, has consumed over 13,200 different structures that housed over 80.000 various residents. It's one of the woods' most significant faults put into perspective. The old London towns weren't famous for their wealth of the common man, and issues like this have prompted people to change to a more fire-resistant material.

The church has also learned from the fire, as it has destroyed over 87 parish churches and, most importantly, Old St Paul's Cathedral.

The Pros Of Wood as a Construction Material

●        Unmatched availability

●        Excellent thermal and electrical isolator

●        Tensile strength

●        Comparably lightweight

●        Sound absorption

●        Aesthetically pleasing

●        Renewable

●        Biodegradable

●        Relatively Cheap

The Cons Of Wood as a Construction Material

●        Tends to catch fire

●        Relatively low life span

●        Pest related Issues

●        Tends to warp and twist

●        Rotting issues

●        Splitting and Cracking

The Change from Wood to Other Materials

Since wood has many different issues when it comes to construction, it has been surpassed by baked in bricks and clay. The combustibility and the relatively low durability of this material mean that it has been replaced by other building materials when they've become cheaper, more available, and easier to work with.

Humans have always been aware that wood is a structurally inferior building material compared to say, stone, but the sheer availability and the cheap price tag placed on the content has made it so that numerous structures have been made out of it.

More high-end homes, structures, and churches from the past have been constructed from stone, and an amount of them is present to this day. Stone was a status symbol, and so was wood. Wood did have some fundamental properties backing it, so it has always been a valuable material.

If houses themselves weren't constructed out of wood, you're likely going to find facades, furniture, and interiors designed out of wood. The situation remains to this day, as most floors, furniture, and frames are created from wood.

The main thing that dictates the use of materials within structures is the trend behind them. While wood was in the limelight for a long time, it has since fallen out of fashion. It seems to be re-emerging to an extent.

Conclusion

Wood has always been one of the primary building materials that humanity has used to construct the elaborate, gorgeous, and historically significant structures of the past, but what does the future hold for this grand material?

There have been numerous speculations, ideas, and implementations of wood as an essential building and construction material in modern times, and the application seems only to grow.

Will this historically significant material make a grand re-emergence into the mainstream? Only the future can tell. Wooden skyscrapers are being imagined as we speak, and even if they're currently in the projection process, we're still waiting to see if that plan comes to fruition.

The historical significance of wood as a building material is virtually unmatched by any other building material, and we're delighted to see its implementation in modern industries.