Contemporary Mixed Wood Timber Frame Homes by Bensonwood

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How well does Eastern White Pine complement other species of wood? Let’s take a look at some gorgeous examples from a New Hampshire-based timber frame company for an answer. Founded in 1974 by Tedd Benson and inspired by the durable timber buildings made by pioneers in the region, Bensonwood aims to design sustainable homes that matter “using a whole-house approach that follows the process from design to move-in.” With over 100 employees, some of whom have been with the company for over 40 years, Bensonwood produces beautiful residential structures ranging from classic to contemporary, and everything in between.

Bensonwood Contemporary Timber Frame

Bensonwood often uses a mixed palette of wood species in its houses, but the result is always clean, cohesive and complementary. What’s particularly nice about the use of Eastern White Pine in these structures is how its natural qualities are used to create contrast with those of species like Douglas fir, cedar and oak. A contemporary two-story timber frame home built in Holderness, New Hampshire in 2016 employee pale whitewashed Eastern White Pine for all ceiling panels and roof boards, which seem to gleam especially brightly beside darker round posts and timbers.

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We spot Eastern White Pine ceilings again in the 3 bedroom farmhouse on Spofford Lake, a low-maintenance energy-efficient home that’s Energy Star Certified, balancing the vivid tones of cherry flooring.

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In the Winnipesaukee Island Home, a prefab timber frame cabin, Bensonwood accents Eastern White Pine walls with cherry accents and sets Eastern White Pine stairs against modern cable guardrails.

It’s always cool to see the diverse ways architects, builders, designers and craftspeople use Eastern White Pine in their projects. What have you made with it lately?

This Office Building’s Wooden Frame Was Built Without Fasteners or Glue

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Though it’s certainly beautiful in its completed state, photos of this office building during the construction process are almost more interesting to look at than those of the finished product. Japanese architect Shigeru Ban designed an incredible interlocking wooden frame for the 7-story Tamedia Office Building in Zurich, Switzerland, which fits together without the need for any glue or fasteners. But luckily, much of that frame is still visible through the structure’s glass envelope.

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Housing 480 employees, the building integrates traditional Japanese craftsmanship with modern European design. This Japanese take on traditional timber frame construction is soft and rounded, fitting together in a way that’s almost reminiscent of a child’s toy. This frame upholds airy, open spaces, and many of its structural elements are entirely visible, providing character that’s unusual in an office building of this size.

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Shigeru Ban is known for his innovative architectural work using paper and cardboard tubes, and his structures are almost always highly sustainable and recyclable. In this case, using timber as the main material was a natural choice to meet and even exceed Switzerland’s strict environmental responsibility mandates, as the lowest producer of CO2 during its manufacturing process of any widely available building material.

Open House: Complex Structure Made of Nothing But Wood

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Architecture students in Switzerland are getting a hands-on education not only in spatial possibilities when structures are freed from the limitations of conventionality, but also the use of wood as a primary building material. An international group of students at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) known as the ‘ALICE Laboratory’ has erected an architectural installation that’s basically a free-for-all in terms of its interior layouts, allowing participants’ imaginations to run wild. They call the result, House 1, “an unfolding evolution of a space that invokes questions, contains possibilities, and is open for interpretation, rather than a singular homogenous architecture.”

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The aim was to create an open-air, pavilion-style structure containing a ‘genetic code’ for future developments, filled with examples of construction layouts and styles that can be repeated or expanded upon as needed. This modern interpretation of balloon-frame timber construction uses long vertical 2”x4”s for the exterior walls, with the long studs extending uninterrupted from the foundation to the roof, which is left unfinished in this case. Balloon framing was popular through the 20th century, until it was overtaken by platform-framing as the building method of choice. Assembling a balloon frame is described as being similar to weaving a basket, with pieces put up one at a time, but in an efficient sequence that reduces labor and equipment needs.

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That sequence is what we see here, drawn out to almost cartoonish proportions, with one piece of wood after another added on in regular sequences that are broken up by fun and unexpected additions like a hole in the second floor filled with netting to create an oversized hammock, built-in shelves and framing for vertical gardens. The idea is that this sequence can be recreated quickly to create houses or simply temporary open-air pavilions for special events.

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It’s cool to see modern architecture students doing innovative things not only with wood, but old-fashioned timber construction methods.

Sky-High Timber Frame Mine Lets Recycled Beetle-Kill Pine Shine

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A five-story pavilion made from reclaimed beetle-kill pine inverts the structure of a mine, putting its internal architecture on display for the 2015 Biennial of the Americas in Denver. ‘Mine Pavilion’ by Chilean practice Pezo von Ellrichshausen consists of stacked square modules in a tall and narrow configuration, looking a bit like a giant billboard when viewed from afar but feeling like an open-air chapel inside.

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The architects utilized the common practice of securing the foundation modules with locally-sourced rocks. While the structure looks impenetrable from the outside, it’s actually a tunnel that guests can walk through, enabling them to gaze up at an almost fractal pattern of wooden beams that just seem to go on and on.

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Lacking any enclosing walls, the timber frame can be appreciated for all of its elegant simplicity. Plank after beautiful plank of pine stretches up toward the sky, the repeating arches leading the eye to patches of blue.

Woodhouse: Eastern White Pine Kit Homes Designed to Last for Centuries

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One Pennsylvania-based home designer is rekindling two American architecture traditions at once with a business model that combines the old “kit home” delivery process with post-and-beam construction. Woodhouse offers a variety of pre-designed building kits in adirondack, craftsman, barn, cabin, cape, coastal and other architectural styles ranging from 832 to 6,163 square feet.

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Choose one, and they’ll deliver the frame, wall panels, roof, windows, doors and five full sets of construction drawings for you or a local contractor to assemble. Woodhouse representatives are on-site for five days overseeing the layout of the grid for the floor system, guiding the contractors in putting up the frame and helping them get started on the panels.  If you want a home that’s fully tailored to your own individual needs, they’ll help you design a custom floor plan, too.

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While the old kit homes that you could order from catalogs like Sears  were conventional balloon construction, wherein the studs extend from sill to plate, Woodhouse’s post-and-beam construction puts the beautiful wooden beams on full display, with highly energy-efficient foam walls. The frame is made to last for centuries, and requires very little maintenance.

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Many of Woodhouse’s models are made from beautiful Eastern White Pine from the Southern Adirondacks, like the two models pictured here. To see all of them, visit the Woodhouse website.

Wood-Frame Emergency Shelters Made From Earthquake Rubble

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What’s the fastest way to erect quick, comfortable and durable emergency shelters while simultaneously clearing away rubble after an earthquake? Renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, known for brilliant relief projects and ingenious use of paper products in architecture, has a solution so smart, it’s a wonder nobody thought of it already. This design is a modular shelter consisting of a wooden framework filled with brick rubble salvaged after a disaster.

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Conceived after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that devastated Nepal in April, these temporary relief shelters are low-cost and easy to assemble. Roof trusses are made from local paper tubes and sealed with plastic sheeting. Rubble is simply stacked within the wooden frames, which can be made with local materials and put together quickly.

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This particular project visually references Nepalese architecture, but the concept could be adapted for virtually any place in the world where lumber is readily available. The first small shelter based on this design is expected to be complete in Nepal by the end of August in collaboration with Ban’s humanitarian organization, Volunteer Architects Network (VAN).