Wood Book

Apr 7, 2017 | Wood Books

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…

wood by william hall and richard mabey the cover of WOOD the new book by willian hall and richard mabey lovely charred wood shingles on the photography on the cover of wood by william hall and richard mabey


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…

this is the wood architecture of tomorrow today in WOOD by william Hall and Richard Mabey the future in wood architecture, experiments thatt help us move on in our wood thinking wood architecture can be solemn and still or rugged and rough or sleek and refined, there are no rules exploring the possibilities of wood architecture and timber buildings the wood tower, the elemental tree wood architecture means wood in the landscape as well as the urban environment

We were really pleased to find one of our millennium projects in here (lefthand side… but great juxtaposition!)

the weald and downland museum gridshell by edward culling in Wood by william hall and richard mabey

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!

wood architecture is democratic, wood is a material available for everybody and every budget to build with this incredible wood tower is wood architecture at it's finest classic wood architecture from our scandinavian neighbours shows us the way forward by looking back timeless wood architecture in wood by william hall and richard mabey  real wood architecture tackling cladding and external finished wood architecture in our wood book review

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!

the exbury egg by pad studio features in wood architecture book: wood by william hall and richard mabey

Need a copy of your own? You can buy it from your Local Bookshop, direct from Phaidon, on Amazon or if you’ve been really good maybe Santa Claus will bring you one for Christmas 🙂

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.


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