The assumption that log homes were not made to last is simply an assumption, which was not true at the time. The world’s oldest wooden building is Hōryū-ji Temple in Japan, which has a cypress-wood structure now over 1,300 years old (first built in 607, then rebuilt after a fire in 670). In Norway, there is at least one log house that researchers believe dates back to 1170, while another log house was built in Switzerland in 1176. And countless half-timbered log houses are over 400 years old. While wood frame homes are common in America and Canada, there are plenty of reasons to consider using the material to a greater extent in new construction.

The benefits of wooden houses for the environment

Wood offers a whole host of benefits for climate-friendly architecture. Notably, its net carbon dioxide production is much lower than many other building materials (especially when compared to concrete, which is responsible for about 10% of all human-generated carbon dioxide). This advantage only grows if the wood comes from sustainable and, ideally, regional sources.

In addition, wood production does not require high energy inputs, while trees absorb and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow. Building a wooden house is easier and faster than building a brick or concrete one. Wood also has excellent insulation properties, which can be integrated into home design and improve the living environment in summer and winter.

Moreover, the wood is often treated and pre-treated, which makes construction possible regardless of the weather. Homes can be built even under wet and cold conditions (not the case with homes using poured concrete or mortar, which takes longer to set when it’s cold or damp). While the fear of fire may linger for some, most bulky timbers, which are often used in construction, are fireproof.

The circular economy of wood

When a wooden house reaches the end of its life, it has the advantage of being more easily recycled than steel or concrete. Wooden homes can usually be broken down into their individual parts, which can then be reused or recycled more efficiently. Ideally, this produces minimal waste. On the other hand, the production of concrete requires large amounts of water, gravel, cement and sand, which are raw materials that can only be reused as fillers and aggregates after demolition. Of course, natural building materials can also be aesthetically pleasing – just take a look at the following examples of particularly impressive wooden houses.

Saltviga designed by Coleman Boy Architects

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