Is this a Timber moment?

Is this a Timber moment?

Cherry tree in almshouses courtyard Grenwich

Alex at drmm Forest of Fabrication exhibition

Forest of Fabrication exhibition

When in the 17th century John Evelyn wrote Sylva, he recognised that to have ships they needed to plant trees, and that the trees would take half a century to mature to provide our “hearts of oak” hulls. He was a public figure and his call to action was followed. The UK climate lends itself to tree cover, but we do not now manage our forests to grow timber for furniture, houses or fuel. Existing sawmills do well on timber fencing orders but have no ambition to help provide the homes that could be built using our new timber technologies. However at a symposium in the Building Centre yesterday I learnt about many remarkable timber buildings that are already in use, and that more are being built, but I also learnt that as usual we have ‘passive reluctance to change’. But instead we should use the ‘passive cooling’ that street trees provide us and the many wellbeing aspects such as smelling nice that timber buildings bring.

Who does not like cherry blossom? But a cherry wood floor or wall is also a joy. Architects specifying new woods such as cherry or tulipwood have found they are delightful.

I never understand why major housebuilders use timber to stuff a roof with trusses that mean it can never be used in future as an additional space for a room as the family grows. Do they hate families so much? Or is this another example of ‘passive reluctance to change’? Maybe the waste of so much potential extra built useable space should become frowned upon through building regulations? Surely at a stroke extra room space could become available in the next 5-50 years in each new home built. We need a new John Evelyn to campaign about timber roofing and growing our own trees.

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