Just the cover did it for us.
So we ordered the hardback and waited patiently by the postbox to see what lay behind the charred shingle cladding with wooden peg fixings.
Here’s what we found…
This is the 3rd book by Phaidon in a series on building materials and wood follows Concrete and Brick (maybe they saved the best ’til last?). It’s arrived in a timely fashion, as a reference book for us woodfans who think that wood architecture is long overdue a true renaissance.
So, the million dollar question is… will it live within reach on the desk, out of reach on the coffee table or will it end up assigned to the next charity shop dropoff box??? Lets see…
Well, first impressions are good.
It feels well made – don’t laugh, that matters! – lovely paper, nice weight, good quality printing. Next… the introduction by editor William Hall and the essay ‘Trees as Architecture ‘ by Richard Mabey are informative and actually well worth reading. We know, you want to skip to the pictures.. but this time you need to read the words. You might learn something… we did!
Clearly both Hall and Mabey are woodfans. We loved hearing that even the king of mass concrete Corbusier came round to wood in the end for it’s ‘comfort and kindness’ in his own home. And we loved hearing tree behaviour and ‘reaction wood’ described so eloquently. We love learning new things so WOOD gets brownie points all round.
It doesn’t have the fine detail that woodgeeks like us could get excited about although there’s the odd mention of species or spec but the images and the brief descriptions are enough of a pointer. We can fill in the blanks for ourselves to a degree but they’re the sort of blanks that could really help a specifier or designer. It may not be a ‘how to’ book but it is definitely a ‘how you could’ book and maybe that’s what we need more in the world of timber construction right now, more inspiration.
And WOOD does inspiration. It’s a portable wood architecture exhibition (the best kind!) which means imagination and experimentation are a given. It’s a body of work that illustrates – with 170 examples – over a 1000 years of building and designing and thinking and making with wood. A showcase for what’s new and what’s possible but also a reminder and a marker for what has already been achieved. It’s imagining a future with wood buildings and recognising it’s a future built on a long, deep heritage.
Yes it’s special. Perfect daydreaming material. Full of ambitious projects and experiments in designing and making with wood. Brimming with wood architecture that has challenged and tested timber’s properties and qualities. But it’s worthwhile as an everyday tool. It’s the sort of book that helps crystalise an idea. The sort of book to reach for when puzzling over ideas for timber cladding, or engineering timber ideas for big spans or when you just want to a reminder of what weathered wood looks like again. It’s support for your imagination. Useful.
Here’s a taster of some of the work that you’ll find inside – in no particular order – that will hopefully whet your appetite for wood, wood buildings and wood books…
We were really pleased to find one of our millennium projects in here (lefthand side… but great juxtaposition!)
We have fond memories of working on timber for this gridshell, not least of all because Weald & Downland Museum is a good neighbour and this building helped strengthen their cause – they’re the only retirement home for buildings we can think of!
Although the UK has too little wood architecture there is some to see like the wonderful Exbury Egg by PAD Studio (we don’t need to tell you which one it is this time). Good move Mr Hall, it was a super project!
Here’s the ‘need to know’
Edited by William Hall with an essay by Richard Mabey
Published by Phaidon
ISBN 978 0 7148 7348 0
P.S. We took these pictures of the book so you could get excited about it and go and get one for yourself, but when you do, give the photographers a little a thought and check out their names on the back page credit. Without them the book wouldn’t have been possible.
The desk? The Coffee Table? The Charity shop? On the desk, definitely. There’s too much cladding and structural timber in WOOD for it to be too far out of reach
Thanks so much for reading woodfans.
See MORE Wood Books here
If you found this useful why not subscribe to our mailing list to get see month’s wood book in The Woodyard Chronicles