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Timber in Architecture: Versatile, Sustainable, and Aesthetic

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

Timber has been a traditional building material for centuries and continues to be popularly used due to its sustainability and unique aesthetic. Timber structures are not only visually appealing but also environmentally friendly as wood is a renewable resource with a much lower carbon footprint compared to other building materials. Another great benefit is its versatility, this has resulted in the use of timber in architecture to evolve from traditional log cabins to contemporary designs that incorporate advanced digital fabrication techniques.

The natural warmth and texture of wood create a sense of comfort and well-bring that is particularly appreciated in residential designs. From small cabins to large public buildings, timber continues to inspire architects to create sustainable, functional and beautiful structures. For this reason, at Mudd architects we regularly use timber in our projects. In this blog we are going to explore the ways in which we have incorporated timber into a variety of designs.

In 2021, we completed an outdoor dining area project for Hotel Swiss Moraira, located in Alicante. Since the concept had sustainability and biophilic design in mind, the use of timber was a logical decision. The three wooden leaf-inspired shapes all have different dimensions and shapes, they intertwine with each other, generating a warm and welcoming atmosphere that invites guests to enjoy their meals in a setting that feels enclosed but in amongst nature simultaneously. Th exposed wood finishes add a natural aesthetic feel, and the delicately designed roof allows for some natural light to filter through whilst also creating shade.

Mudd architects took on a residential project for a house located on the outskirts of the historic centre of Besalú in Girona. We envisioned creating an open and spacious central area with high ceiling that serves as the focal point/ centrepiece of the house.

We utilised timber for both structural and aesthetic elements in this project. The structure of the house features thermocclay wall and wooden beams, combining for both durability and thermal insulation properties. Whilst we implement wooden lattices and exterior cladding with wooden panels to add a contrast between the smooth finish of the walls. This resulted in an organic feeling and unified relationship with the outside nature. Finally, to create a modern yet traditional aesthetic for the external faces of the house, we added gabled Arabic tiles.

Furthermore, MuDD Architects recently completed a unique project called the Writers Cabin, designed and built for a children’s book writer in the north of Madrid. The cabin was not only meant to provide functional and comfortable living space but also had to be an inspiring environment, fostering creativity and imagination for the writer’s future work.

This was a particularly challenging project for a multitude of reasons, one being the client’s desire to create a unique space inspired by Virginia Wolf’s book ‘A room of One’s own.’ We are proud of how our choice of design, material and relationship with the environment helped achieved exactly what the client envisioned. An example of how timber helped achieve this was through the requirement for storage however without causing a sensation of overcrowding.

The client required large amounts of book storage, so we designed custom-made sloped roof to allow for internal locally sourced timber shelves to be placed effortlessly internally. By perfectly balancing the horizontal and vertical elements, we created a sensation of time pausing, in other words zen.

A very special project we are currently completing is a luxury treehouse for Hotel Normandy. The purpose is to create a space that integrates with nature and offers an outstanding forest view, providing a luxurious retreat for hotel clients seeking tranquillity.

Timber is being used as the primary building material for this project. The wooden house is designed to be intertwined with a 10-meter tall tree, which serves as the anchor for the structure. The timber supports the platform on which the treehouse is built and also provides support for the ladder used to climb up to the house.

The treehouse has a rectangular shape with a pitched roof, and both the bedroom and bathroom facades are exposed to the outside taking full advantage of the stunning French forest view. The exterior finish of the house is made of wooden boards, and the supports for the structure are made of iron profiles. Overall, timber is essential to this project as it helps to create a natural and harmonious space that blends seamlessly with the surrounding environment.

These projects showcase the versatility of timber in our architecture projects, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere to providing structural support and insulation. We hope we have demonstrated the sustainable materials are easily versatile and timber has the ability to form a unique powerful relationship between the built environment and nature.

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