The history of building with wood [infographic]

The first timber home was built 10,000 years ago. Now 40-story wood skyscrapers are being constructed.

July 14, 2016 |
The history of building with wood [infographic]

The ceiling of the Richmond Olympic Oval building in Richmond, B.C., Canada, is made of glulam. Photo: Thelastminute/Wikimedia Commons.

Even as other building materials emerge, from classics like steel, masonry and concrete to the recycled materials repurposed in large-scale 3D printing, wood is still here.

Advances in engineering, like cross-laminated timber (CLT), is making large wooden skyscrapers possible. A timber office tower is coming to London, a wooden residential complex is being built in Montreal, and Stockholm is planning a 40-story CLT skyscraper. An architect even designed an entire wood multifamily building district in Sweden.

Wood, particularly CLT, remains king for builders. Compared to steel and concrete, it's "cheaper, easier to assemble, and more fire resistant, thanks to the way wood chars," writes Clay Risen of Popular Science. "It’s also more sustainable. Wood is renewable like any crop, and it’s a carbon sink, sequestering the carbon dioxide it absorbed during growth even after it’s been turned into lumber."

The material has been around forever — the first timber home literally dates back to the Stone Age. Log Cabin Hub, a site dedicated to the planning, building, and living in log cabin homes, produced an infographic called Living with Wood: From the Beginning of Time, that chronicles the history of wood building.

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