A long, horizontal wooden structure peeks through the woods on a narrow peninsula, its open frame standing out as its defining feature. This public pavilion is both a showcase of prized local pine wood and a tribute to a unique history of pine resin production in the area.
Located in Lishui, China, “Pine Park Pavilion” by DnA Architects is set along a paved connecting path on the Songyin River leading to the village of Huangyu. Its purpose is “a tourism infrastructure that enables cyclists and hikers to experience the region.” Inside is an art installation showing how the pine resin was produced and how it’s used.
“Pine Pavilion is a linear structure spreading out alongside Songyin River dam and facing Xiahuangyu village across a fishpond. Wooden structural panels slice up the building to divide the program, preserve pine trees and create passages from the dam to the fishpond. Pine trees are framed into the space and become the major theme. In fact, the main economical income of Xiahuangyu villagers comes from pine resin production. A sequence of glass panels attached with resin production images is installed into structural frames to introduce this village pine production context. The building itself is a large scale miniature landscape bonsai of this pine forest.”
“The elongated pavilion consists of four segments. The building elements are separated with glass surfaces, on which the production of resin is illustrated in an artistically alienated manner, thus giving rise to one picture in combination with the already existing group of trees around the pavilion.”
“The simple wooden building with its clear constructive structure serves as a resting place at the dam on the river and provides information about a traditional method of producing resin. It consequently combines information about the location with a tourism infrastructure that links history and future for visitors in a playful manner.”
As you can see, the timber frame of the pavilion is constructed differently from the “timber frame” architecture we love here in the United States. But its simple, uncluttered beauty is obvious, enhanced even more by the use of so much glass on the walls and ceilings. It’s essentially a love letter to pine, demonstrating its importance to the local culture, and that’s something we can understand, as well.
While many forestry operations reclaim waste like bark to transform it into mulch or biomass for energy, sometimes, it goes to waste. A new concept called “PineSkins” by Studio Sarmite finds a novel new use for it: transforming it into a leather-like material that’s surprisingly supple, and usable for all sorts of projects.
“The pine bark differs from traditionally used tree barks; it cannot be harvested from a living tree. A pine tree would die without its skin. Therefore the bark is harvested in collaboration with a tree cutter. Harvesting takes place right after the tree cutter cuts the tree for his business. This leather-like material surprises with its softness in contrast to the thick and harsh character associated with pine trees. Fresh bark is treated with natural ingredients that preserve its softness. Afterwards it can be coated with an enriching layer of finishing and colour pigments.”
“It is important for me as a designer to let the material take the shape it wants to take. We often bend and transform materials into shapes we envision. However, for me that magic happens when the material determines what it wants to become. As a result I design every day products that respect the character of the bark and in its shape reminds us on trees with its irregular shapes.”
It really does look like leather, and it’s interesting to think about what kinds of applications it could have in various industries. Designer Sarmite Polakova, who believes that each material, new or old, “has a story to tell,” pictures it woven into baskets or cut into rugs. You could also imagine it in use as wallpaper, place mats, notebook covers, handbags and other items.
She doesn’t say exactly how it’s created, other than those “natural ingredients” that keep it pliable long after it’s stripped from the tree, but her project isn’t the first to use bark this way. The Ugandan traditional craft of barkcloth making is one example, while “tapa cloth” is a bark cloth made in the islands of the Pacific Ocean from species like the paper mulberry tree. Both are often used for clothing.
Looking sort of like a modern version of the famous “House of Seven Gables” in Massachusetts, a dramatic minimalist villa stands tall in a Swedish suburb. “Villa Amiri” by the architecture firm Bornstein Lyckefors is one of those houses that’s bound to draw sharp divisions in public opinion: those who think it’s cool, and those who think it’s creepy.
With its stark black silhouette rising tree stories into the air, there’s no doubt that the house is a bit intimidating. Its exterior consists of extra-long vertical pine timbers stretching from the ground all the way up to the sharp edges of the roofline, making it look even taller than it is. These lines are mimicked by the slats of louvered shutters covering some of the windows, and the fence boards that delineate the property lines.
But of course, it’s the black pine tar finish that gives Villa Amiri its most distinctive characteristic. Pine tar is a traditional Swedish method of preserving wooden facades and roofs, giving them protection against rain, snow and insects. Previously, we featured a small Chilean cabin finished in pine tar, but its facade was not quite as deep, dark black as this one. Pine tar or pine rosin is 100% organic and can be thinned 50/50 with purified raw linseed oil.
Inside Villa Amiri, the architects maintained a minimalist aesthetic with lots of black and white geometric lines and shapes, lightened up here and there by wood in natural tones. The result is somewhat less somber than the exterior, but still feels like it would fit right in as the setting for a Beetlejuice reboot.
For an example of how beautifully pine can pair with other materials, look to “Stone House” by Spain’s NOMO STUDIO. Located on a hillside facing the north coast of Minorca, this modern beach house takes inspiration from the landscape, seaside culture and local traditions for a breezy color palette and contemporary look.
The architects excavated into the hillside and used the resulting rock debris to build the layered facade, which can be opened to the outdoors in mild weather or act as a thermal buffer during hot and cold seasons. The client wanted a fresh reinterpretation of local traditional architecture, taking cues without replicating older buildings, and the architects responded with a new version of the Minorcan custom of framing windows and edges with white plaster.
You can see how the pine doors and shutters on the exterior perfectly accent and offset the color and texture of the stone and plaster, bringing in some vertical lines, warm tones and references to nature. That theme continues inside, where pine carpentry can be found just about everywhere, including the doors, ceiling beams, cabinets and shelving.
“Similarly to the facade’s earthy palette, the interior is a combination of continuous sand-coloured concrete pavement, whitewashed walls, pine wood carpentry and white-veiled wooden beams. These natural materials create a both warm but also airy atmosphere within the pastel range. All built-in kitchen furniture and wardrobes are custom made by a local carpenter. Details such as a solid hovering stair with integrated handrail-lighting create an interesting dialogue between traditional and contemporary architecture. Kitchen, wardrobes, libraries and niches were built in masonry keeping simplicity as a common thread. Furthermore, the use of soft indirect illumination was also designed throughout the house, avoiding placing exposed lighting fixtures on walls or beam-ceilings.”
The archetypal cabin is square or rectangular, but you can still achieve that cozy nature-centric feeling when you think outside the box (literally.) An interesting design out in coastal Denmark uses thin strips of pine to create a barrel-vaulted ceiling, and the effect is beautiful, especially on the inside.
For Copenhagen-based studio Valbaek Brørup Architects, the use of pine was important for several reasons. First of all, they wanted to use materials that are locally available and found right on the building site. Using wood was also important to make it “cabin-like,” especially since they’re deviating from conventional forms. But just as crucially, pine imparts an unparalleled fragrance to the interiors.
“The interior is all made of pine. The smell, sound and atmosphere is like being in a traditional cabin. We wanted to copy the materials, colors and atmosphere on the site, so we didn’t want to paint anything – especially not white.”
“We wanted to create a house with a form that is connected to the existing rural building tradition, as a reference to the more industrial agricultural buildings of Danish farms,” partner Stefan Valbaek told Dezeen.
As you can see, the corrugated roof recalls the materials and shapes of livestock buildings and silos, so although the home is modern, it doesn’t feel out of place in its context.
There’s a bedroom loft tucked just under the ceiling, open on both sides to draw in natural light, while the majority of the space is dedicated to common pine-clad living areas. It’s always neat to see the different ways people use pine, and all the global variations on the traditional cabin.
Naturally, the people who helped make “shiplap” a household name have plenty of it in their own home in Waco, Texas. Design duo Chip and Joanna Gaines, best known for HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” as well as their own home decor brand Magnolia, opened their doors to Architectural Digest to give us all a peek at their personal style.
The way Joanna tells it, she isn’t necessarily obsessed with shiplap as a universal design strategy – she just happened to move into a historic farmhouse full of it, and it influenced her style as a result. Now, the word is practically synonymous with her name, and strongly associated with her easygoing, livable but fastidiously curated aesthetic.
Joanna tells AD she was determined to make pine one of the most important elements in the home, digging deep to get to the original flooring. You can see in the photos how beautifully it has aged over the years – a key feature of the species.
“So, when we originally bought the farmhouse, I think it hadn’t been updated since the ’80s, so there was carpet everywhere and the ceilings were dropped really low. We wanted to get this thing down to almost the bare bones to figure out how we could make it work for our family.”
“We took out three or four layers of flooring to get to the original pine floors and then had to rework all the spaces. My master bathroom was once the hallway. The entry was actually the mud room. What was the front side of the house is now the back. So, the house was completely flipped. I love that, though. I love being given a space and then having to be creative and work within that box.”
You can see more photos of Chip and Joanna’s home in Joanna’s book Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave.