Lumber Company Shows Off Its Product with an Incredible Log Facade

Bruckner Ziegler wood products headquarters

Naturally, when wood processing companies are designing their offices, they’re almost always going to put the focus on their products. It’s an opportunity to show off, impressing visitors from the moment the building comes into sight. One of Europe’s industry greats, Ziegler Group, did an especially outstanding job of this with their new headquarters in the Upper Palatinate region of Germany, set on the exact site where the company started its very first sawmill. Architecture firm Brückner and Brückner has created an unforgettable facade screen made of natural logs that sets the mood and creates shade for the interiors beyond the all-glass walls. At night, when the light shines through them, the building looks like a giant lantern.

Bruckner Ziegler log facade

“The company group’s business divisions also include logistics, mechanical engineering, software development, forest management, interior design and the construction of prefabricated houses, with quite a few locations and approximately 1400 employees. In the search for a suitable location in the forest surrounding the sawmill, we, together with the builders, asked ourselves: what exactly do we want growing here, and where? And we found the perfect spot: at the highest point of the plot, where forest and production space intersect. After engaging in collective workshops, an idea was born: We would take the earliest product from the Ziegler product range, a tree stem of spruce soaring 19 meters high and build a house from it.”

Bruckner Ziegler terrace
bruckner ziegler office wood surfaces

“From the outside, you can almost hear the musical score of the Ziegler products playing in unison, a rhythmic procession of logs surrounding the building like lines of musical notes. The wood serves as a natural filter, both from the inside and outside, with additional shade thanks to a textile that provides protection from the sun, and at the core, a façade made of glass, wood and metal. The two cubes are raised up with felling cuts, like the stem of a tree, with two inner courtyards between them. Each employee has their own window. This concept is continued throughout the structure’s interior, the quality of the wood becomes increasingly more refined and the house makes all subsequent steps in the processing of the wood visible, from the raw wood of the counters, to the refined wooden surfaces of the office furniture.”

Bruckner Ziegler wood spiral staircase
Bruckner Ziegler log office

Other notable features include a dramatic spiraling wooden staircase, sculptural lumber installations on the walls and ceilings, cross-laminated timber surfaces and thoughtfully framed views of the forest from just about every room. It’s quite a sight, in fact, to gaze out the windows through the logs of the facade onto the thousands upon thousands in the log yard outside. It’s unusual to see logs used on a contemporary building this way, but doesn’t it look great?

Want to Lower Your Carbon Footprint? Use More Wood

Across the world, demand for wood is through the roof. Lumber, biomass and paper products are just a few forest products flying off production lines right now, putting pressure on timberlands and mills to produce a steady flow of this popular resource. On the surface, that might sound like a bad thing. Doesn’t it mean we need to cut down too many trees? Actually, no – as long as forests are sustainably managed. 

Wood is a sustainable and renewable resource, and new breakthroughs in science and technology are allowing us to use it in all kinds of spectacular ways, not the least of which is high rise construction. Manufactured forms of timber like CLT are proving to be as strong and durable as steel and concrete, giving it the potential to dramatically transform what urban architecture looks like.

As The New York Times recently reported, more and more developers are turning to wood, partially for its versatility and partially due to concerns about climate change. Demand for CLT is so high, the number of construction projects using it is projected to double annually to reach more than 24,000 by 2034. CLT makes use of trees that are 12 inches or less in diameter, which happens to align perfectly with recommendations for forest thinning to reduce wildfires. (A recent study found that Eastern White Pine is ideal for use in CLT!)

While steel and cement generate massive shares of greenhouse gases during every phase of their production, wood stores carbon by absorbing it from the atmosphere, offsetting the emission of greenhouse gases. That’s true both in the form of growing forests and even in finished wooden structures and products. In fact, wood products continue to store much of this carbon indefinitely, keeping it out of the atmosphere for the lifetime of the structure. And when the life cycle of a wooden building is complete, its components can be recycled into new objects to keep that carbon locked away.

The American Wood Council explains a little more about carbon storage in working forests:

“When a tree is harvested, some of the carbon stays in the forest and some is removed in the logs. Some carbon is released when the forest soil is disturbed during harvest, and as the roots, branches and leaves left behind begin to decompose. However, once the harvested area is regenerated, the forest once again begins to absorb and store carbon.”

“According to The State of America’s Forests report, less than 2 percent of the standing tree inventory in the U.S. is harvested each year while net tree growth is close to 3 percent. In Canada, less than 1 percent of the managed forest is harvested annually and the law requires regeneration. In both countries, responsible forest management has resulted in more than 50 consecutive years of forest growth that exceeds annual forest removals. As a result of these trends, forests in both countries have sequestered fairly high levels of carbon in recent decades.”

On top of all that, wood is an excellent insulator that can help improve energy efficiency – and people just love it. 

Worried about the potential for fire danger in high rise wood buildings? Read on:

Learn more about how demand for forest products actually helps keep more land forested:

Reimagining the Classic Barn as a Modern Home

Modern Barn Home

There’s something special about the slow pace at which rural architecture changes. The old tried and true shapes and materials remain much the same as they did for centuries, simply because they work. Why mess with a good thing? When everything else in the world is changing so fast, it’s nice to know you can take a peaceful country drive and see the same kinds of farmhouses, barns and outbuildings that have been present in the area for many generations.

Modern Barn Home side

Preserving local cultural heritage through rural architecture should be a priority everywhere, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play with those typologies and come up with new things. In Australia, Paul Uhlmann Architects demonstrates how a structure as simple and classic as a barn can be adapted into a modern home that still feels deeply rooted in the history of its surroundings.

Located in a suburb of Brisbane, “The Barn” is still made of wood inside and out, with the kind of sturdy metal roof that amplifies the sound of falling rain. But the architects have given the roofline a rounded peak, and used thinner, vertically oriented siding to connect the home to contemporary style. The ground floor features enormous barn doors that open the living space almost entirely to the outdoors.

Modern Barn Home barn doors

Modern Barn Home living area This residence was designed to be a rural weekend getaway for reoccurring clients; a busy city couple and their children. An existing driveway meanders through the property, flanked by sprawling jacarandas that lead to the building. This idea of ‘The Barn’ was embraced in both external form and the interior spaces, as the building was intended to be an escape for the family to go and enjoy their horses.”

Modern Barn Home inside

“The ground floor plan completely opens to engage with the sprawling lawn and grounds of the property. This enables cross-ventilation, and the ability of the family’s young children and their friends to come and go as they please. Cathedral-like ceilings and windows are encapsulated by exposed structural timbers to frame views to the paddocks and bushland below.”

Modern Barn Home upstairs

“Upstairs, the bedrooms have skylights to watch the clouds go past during the day, and the stars by night. A generous bunkroom enables the children to host multiple friends over the weekend while the adults can entertain separately on the ground floor. The design of the building, clad internally and externally in Australian hardwood with a zincalume roof, created a strong singular rural form that sits like a rural shed in a setting of both farmland and bush.”

Modern Barn Home at night

This modern barn home may be distinctly Australian in flavor, but it stands as a great example of how old and new styles can merge into something stylish, highly livable and made almost entirely from sustainable wood.

Eco-Luxury Hotel in Paris Will Have a Wooden Facade

kengo kuma wood hotel 1

With a nearly all-wood design that’s being hailed as a refreshing change from typical steel and glass, Kengo Kuma’s stunning ‘1hotel Paris’ project will bring eco-luxury lodgings to the Rive Gauche neighborhood in Paris. The Japanese-born, Paris-based architect is well known for his signature wooden designs, which often feature stacked and slotted wood pieces that fit together in puzzle-like arrangements.

kengo kuma wood hotel 2 kengo kuma wood hotel 3

The facade of the hotel features wooden panels overlapped and set at irregular, asymmetrical angles to ‘blur’ the building’s shape and mimic the pattern of branches on a tree. Lush greenery protrudes from between these panels, helping to purify the air in the neighborhood.

kengo kuma wood hotel 5

“In the dense urban context of the Avenue de France, we felt the need to create a green lung for the city,” says the architecture firm. “Nature finds a place at the core of the scheme, translated in the intimate public garden where all senses are awoken.”

kengo kuma wood hotel 4

“In the context of repetitive volumes along the avenue, our design strategy was to create a sculptural shape as formed by natural erosion that will let the sky come down to the street. The work on the volume is defined by the modularity of the wooden structure. As particles, dispersed facade panels together with the volumetric decomposition come to blur the shape of the building. The warm materiality of the wood is combined with the soften reflection and aerial touch of the metal panels. The building will come alive with the light.”

The 1Hotel will be home to 140 rooms, including 23 suites, a 179-bed hostel, a 120-seat cabaret and a 1,000-square-foot sports hall as well as bars, restaurants and offices. There’s also a central garden surrounded by staggered walls, a series of multi-level garden terraces and a swimming pool.

World’s Tallest Timber Tower Currently Under Construction in Vancouver

tallest timber tower 1

It looks as if Vancouver, B.C. could become home to the world’s tallest timber tower by summer 2017, assuming it ’s completed before several other planned projects in Europe. Designed by Acton Ostry Architects, the Brock Commons Student Residence at the University of British Columbia is set to be 53 meters (173.8 feet) tall, with housing for 404 students. This particular plan calls for a hybrid of mass wood and concrete; the two freestanding concrete cores are already built and the wood structure is currently going up around it.

tallest timber tower 2

tallest timber tower 3

17 stories of timber will be topped with a prefabricated steel beam and metal deck roof, with all vertical loads carried by the timber and lateral stability provided by the cores. Steel connectors transfer loads between the glulam columns and a grid of cross-laminated timber panels to meet the Canadian building code standards for earthquake-resistant design. Most of the materials in use are prefabricated, enabling the structure to go up at a rate of about one floor per week.

tallest timber tower 4 tallest timber tower 5

Designed to meet LEED Gold certification, the sustainable structure aims to stand as a case study for the viability of tall wood structures, ultimately leading to changes in British Columbia’s building codes so even taller wooden skyscrapers can be built. The amount of wood used in the structure will trap an incredible 2,563 tons of carbon, the equivalent of taking 490 cars off the road for a year. That represents a whole lot of potential for environmentally friendly, affordable and easy-to-build wooden superstructures in our future.

The Chelsea Project: High-Rise Wood Condo Tower for NYC

chelsea tower 1

America’s top metropolis is set to get on board with wooden megastructures, hinting toward a tipping point that’ll boost demand for tall wooden buildings throughout the country. One of the winners of the USDA’s recent tall timber building competition, this ten-story condominium by SHoP Architects is a soaring 120 feet high and will overlook the High Line, the city park built on an old elevated freight rail line.

chelsea tower 2

Planned for 475 West 18th Street, the project will have retail space on the ground floor in addition to dozens of new gorgeous-looking, modern wood-lined apartments. The environmentally friendly project aims to reduce overall energy consumption by at least 50 percent relative to current energy codes, and will seek LEED Platinum certification.

SHoP architect Chris Sharples notes that “every element of the building, right down to the elevator core, can be constructed in wood.” Aside from the sustainability of its construction, the building is notable for the warmth that its wood facade brings to an urban landscape that can otherwise be quite hard and cold, packed with steel and concrete.

chelsea tower 3

Boosting the profile of wooden buildings could be a big boon to the entire industry, says U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who announced the winners of the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition at a press conference in September 2015. A proposal called Framework in Portland, Oregon is the second winner.

“The U.S. wood products industry is vitally important as it employs more than 547,000 people in manufacturing and forestry, with another 2.4 million jobs supported by U.S. private forest owners. By embracing the benefits of wood as a sustainable building material, these demonstration projects have the ability to help change the face of our communities, mitigate climate change and support jobs in rural America. I look forward to seeing how these two buildings help lead the way in furthering the industry.”