The field of architecture tries to integrate a new element to its craft every day. New materials, new ways to adjust to the space or to distribute the same, new ways to make more ecological constructions. However, in terms of what’s new, there is always one or two old elements that are rediscovered or come back with innovative processes that adapt them to the current needs. Wood is one of those elements.
A perpetual partner of construction, wood gets centerstage again today, when architecture is concerned with being greener. This noble material that has always provided beauty and shape to human homes is returning to the facades and interiors thanks to treatments that have made it more durable and resistant to climatic elements.
A home made of wood with an original design
Thermally treated hardwoods are the most innovative trend in architecture. And the Copperland house in Indianapolis is the best example of its use. This project -which is the first of this type for Haus Architects- combines the integration of the landscape with the application of innovative materials for a triple objective: achieving a modern home that is simple and energy efficient in terms of energy use.
The home located in the gradient of a hill, seems coupled to it as a result of an optical illusion. Its design is a mix of the simplicity of the forms and the harmonization of materials (wood and concrete).
The rectangular volume of the exterior of the home breaks apart with a partially suspended cover. The use of wood in this project is conceived as a screen to prevent the water from reaching the walls, which is possible since the ash wood used to cover the exterior has been thermally treated.
Treated wood, immune wood
The treatment of wood makes it lighter, increases its hardness, reduces its heat transfer as well as the humidity to contents ranging from 6% to 2%. That makes it xylophagous fungi resistant but not immune. However, experts recommend being careful about certain xylophagous insects with larval stage.
The modified wood on the exterior of the Copperland house doesn’t have any coating applied, so the material acquires a dark gray color over time, allowing the house to stand out among the surrounding green. The exterior ash wood extends to the interior, but in a darker color to match the beams and the furniture of the home.
Benefits of modified wood
• Durability: the resistance of heat treated wood is 15 to 25 percent higher. This is due to the elimination of the polysaccharide and the decrease of humidity in a 50-90% in comparison to non-treated wood.
• Impermeability: this type of wood accumulates 4 to 5 times less water due to the reorganization of the carbon-hydrogen chains in the structure of the wood after being treated.
• Stability: since the thermal treatment process changes the molecular structure of the wood, it also decreases its weight. These factors reduce the variations of the dimensions of the wood related to the humidity.
• Color: treated woods get a brown color that is constant in all its depth.
• They don’t harm the environment: the treatments applied to these woods don’t harm the ecosystem. Besides, at least in the United States, the trees used to extract these woods are replanted.
In sum, wood is still a noble material that will be used in architecture for a long time.