Friday, 8 February 2008

Is it wood, is it bricks or is it lego?

Time to practice your French with this post. One of the big new things coming over from continental Europe is "massive wood construction". This is an extension of the idea of a traditional log cabin - in which the walls are solid wood - but updated with modern hi-tech manufacturing methods. So instead of irregular round logs you have nice regular building blocks.

This provides very good insulation keeping the heat in and the noise from outside out. It's also greener than conventional fired clay bricks - which require more energy to make and produce more carbon dioxide in the process.

Obviously it requires an awful lot of wood, but the good thing is that cheaper, low quality, wood can be used. As there is so much of it, the force is shared over a bigger area, meaning it doesn't have to be nearly as strong or as stiff as the wood used in a timber frame building.

You might see this type of construction more often in the next few years for buildings like schools and hotels.

The first video is an explanation (in French) of one particular system of massive wood construction (there are others). Notice the computer controlled robotic cutting and drilling machines. Wood manufacturing really is like this in the 21st century.

The second video, which has no sound, shows the same system being used to actually construct a building. Notice how accurately the pieces fit together thanks to the precision manufacturing.

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