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A Wooden path to Elegant AbodesBy Rohit Mondal
Architecture Tweet 0 Comment(s)
Upon returning after a hard day’s work, the words, “Home sweet home” often rings a sense of relief and comfort . But the question is, what makes a home inviting and comfortable? What makes it a space for rejuvenation? In addition to good architectur al planning and ergonomics, the choice of material play s a n imperative role. This “ zone of comfort ” may be best defined by means of natural materials such as wood, rather than those that are processed in factories and are far from being a source of comfort in the first place. W ood is structurally sound and a coustically efficie nt in addition to its aesthetic value, making it a promising and effective building ma terial for residences.
Wooden construction is often considered as an appropriate and economical option for small sized residences across the globe. 1 Areas where timber is available sufficiently, wooden constructions become native and vernacular, with a significant degree of uniqueness and identity in its craftsmanship and execution. A esthetically, it has the properties to transform a space into a warm, cosy and comfortable environment. Perhaps these unique qualities of wood are the reasons for its ext raordinary value even in today’s age of synthetically processed materials.
On a technical note, wood exhibits certain characteristic properties that labels it a s a viable building material. There are several techniques of using wood as a building material which have developed over many year across the world. Wood may be used either to support the structural system of the built form, or used as a cladding material or as both. It is resilient and stable, capable of withstanding compressive loads to a good extent. Its durability accounts for it s use as structural elements in post and lintel construction or wooden truss constructions, especially for pitched roof structures. It also exhibits effective acoustical properties that ensure clarity of sound and speech intelligibility within the space where it is used. And last but not the least, w ooden surfaces do not require additional painting or plastering. Its natural grains and royal appearance enriches the aesthetic quality of any space. Thus, in a nutshell, wood quite comfortably fits into the requirements for a “home sweet home” experience!
Modern construction techniques are complex and often uneconomical for small scale construction. For instance, if a house is to be constructed for a family of four, it is wiser to construct it with timber than concrete. This is because, unlike wood, concret e has to be cast into form after being prepared in correct proportions of its constituents. This requires time, labour and a fair amount of expenditure. On the contrary, wood is available in various forms, suitable for erecting any structure rapidly and wi th minimum labour. Both the interiors and exteriors maybe left in its raw form with a bit of polishing, thereby saving time and money again very subtly and elegantly!
Sawn from logs in hardwood mills, wood is shaped into various usable forms such as plank s, battens and boards. However, craftsmen and carpenters in Delhi and Kolkata 2 explain that nowadays, due to rising prices, there is a fair bit of hesitance amongst clients when it comes to choosing wood for their homes. Often the question of regular maint enance of wood is a cause for their withdrawal from choosing it. In response to that, the wood industry has developed various derivatives of wood such as Medium Density Fibre boards (MDFs) and particle boards that gives a similar appearance at affordable prices 3. Various furniture and installations for homes such as feature walls, bookshelves and cabinets which were previously made of wood, nowadays are often manufactured or crafted with MDF boards or ply wood. No doubt it has a similar appearance, but the overall effect of a teak wood masterpiece is lost. In fact, the popular “do it yourself” Ikea furniture used across the world are also not a close competitor in terms of elegance and effect. Unlike woo den furniture that lives through generations, they hav e short lifespans, making them worthy only for use and throw. Of course, one has to agree that with the current lifestyles around the globe, disassembled furniture packed into cartons are convenient and economical despite their lacking artistry and unique ness. So on the horns of dilemma, one has to carefully choose between a work of art and an item of function. Interestingly, it is possible to have the best both in the long run when one chooses to take the wooden path to elegant living.
1 Chris Arnold, Building System Development Timber Construction
2 Response from local carpenters and craftsmen from the regions when interviewed
3 Trade Information Brief, wood and wood products, TIPS, AUSAID
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