Ove Nilsson, architect SAR / MSA

Wooden facades have development potential

Published: 22 December 2011

Architects' vision of wood facade materials and their experiences of wood and its development opportunities. That is the subject of a new licentiate thesis "wooden facades - about architecture and technology" by architect Ove Nilsson, industrial PhD at Luleå University of Technology.

The work tries to answer the question whether wooden facades can become a future competitive alternative to other facade types, and if so which aspects are important to consider. Architects often play an important role in the choise of facade material for construction projects. In addition, in the projection work the architect often works on seeking new ways of expression and new possibilities with technology and materials. Therefore this occupational group is interesting to study with respect to their work with, and views on, wood as a facade material. To investigate how architects view wood as a facade material, and which experiences they have from wood and which development possibilities they see, a number of practicing Swedish architects have been chosen for an interview study.

The interviewed architects are on the whole positive to wood as a facade material. The interviewed architects point out the good machining properties. Wood is easy to form with tools and can simply be given a different expression and character with painting and other surface treatments. The interviewed architects mean that it is important to get an improved detail precision and quality of the detail workmanship for wooden facades to reach higher "status" and consequently increased use. The foremost drawback seen with wooden facades is mainly the maintenance aspect.

Other suggestions:

  • Combine wood with other materials, steel and glass
  • Make use of the natural potential of wood
  • Develop surface treatment methods with a "wooden feel"
  • Develop more refined wooden panels and board materials
  • Develop new wooden facade products and wooden facade systems
  • Make use of the prefab potential - larger scale
  • Increase knowledge within arachitects/corporate promoters and other building trade
  • Take more methodical use of the ongoing wood research and technology development
  • Strive for closer cooperation between architects/corporate promoters and research/manufacturing industry.

With a methodical development work wood has good opportunities to develop into a competitive modern facade material, attractive for customers, architects and others working with building construction.