Recent technological advances in home construction and materials have snowballed a revolution of ideas that are changing the way in which the industry operates. Looking at projects and companies like Home Nation, we can see that modern, beautifully designed, surdy homes are more affordable than ever before. At the same time, the pallete of custom features has not diminished – quite the opposite!
The choice is more extensive than ever before and the market is constantly being renewed with ideas and technologies that, even for experienced buyers, can unravel an intimidating amount of information to take into account. Just recently, a Russian company has successfully demonstrated a completely 3D printed 400 sq ft house with a 24 hour build-time under difficult low-temperature conditions. And yet, even though we’ve come so far on the road of synthetic materials, it is highly unlikely that natural, renewable materials are going to be phased out any time soon.
It’s simple, actually – unique quality renewable materials grow naturally in the wild and it would be foolish not to use them, as long as we don’t take it too far. Not to mention that some properties of natural materials simply can’t be replicated by any modern process. This is why combining traditional materials with new designs is so attractive. Even reclaimed wood, skilfully processed, could make an eco-friendly and unique, yet budget-oriented interior.
Timber is still preferred in many situations as a structural component that can be made visually appealing by design, with no need to put further effort into masking it up. Buyers tend to forget that wood is aslo exceptionally strong for its weight. Unlike brick, for example, it actually flexes before it cracks making it safe for use in areas plagued by quakes or extreme weather. It’s similar to why we make alloys and low-carbon steel out of iron instead of using it pure. And just like every alloy has its use, timber offers a plethora of different properties depending on the species. Texture, color, hardness, density, all varies greatly depending on the type of wood.
The versatility of timber will not be surpassed anytime soon. It easily beats other materials in terms of thermal performance and insulative properties, rust is never an issue and paired with modern windows and vapour-barrier materials, wood can make your house as energy neutral as possible. It’s also very easy to process, and can be shaped very fast compared to other materials. Timber is the optimal material for fast production line pre-fabricated modular components, ready for use at a moment’s notice. At this point, homes can be build in assembly line processes cheaper than ever.
You might think de-forestation would be a problem for the environment. Believe it or not – the only carbon-neutral construction material is wood. And with new technologies like cross-laminated timber, lighter panels can be made with less material without sacrificing strength. Lighter materials mean even faster transport and assembly. Luthiers have known about cross-lamination for a long time. It is how they make sure instruments don’t warp too much because even a slightly warped guitar changes the way it sounds and plays. Simply put: wood is the material of the past, present and future. The only thing that changes is how we shape it, and how fast!