Why is building with wood so common in Scandinavia?

Scandinavia’s popular construction material

 

In Scandinavian countries, people are very close to nature. The outdoors is an important cultural facet of Scandinavian life. Scandinavia has a vast natural resource of forests, and thus wood. The geography of the landscape naturally affects the architecture of an area. Besides being widely available, wood also has many benefits as a staple in architecture.

A house made of pine logs provides a natural, finished wood surface on both the exterior and the interior of the building. Large windows common in Scandinavian architecture allow a wide open view to the outside world, creating a connection with nature.

 

Features of Scandinavian Architecture

 

The Nordic countries specialize in a number of different architectural techniques, many of which are likely an influence from the seasonally harsh climate where winters are extremely cold and dark:

  • Integration with nature
  • Simplicity in design
  • Utilization of natural light
  • Creative use of natural materials
  • Functionality and comfort

 

What are the advantages of building with wood?

 

There’s good reason that humans have been using wood as a construction material for as long as we’ve built shelters—it’s got a plethora of benefits.

Pros:

  • Wood is renewable and requires less energy in production, transport, and in the energy consumption of the house. Through reforestation, we can prevent permanent damage to nature and not completely deplete the resource.
  • Building with wood also means there is a great deal of artistic freedom. If you want to change something, it is easier to change with wood than with stone.
  • Building with wood has a natural, timeless beauty.
  • The structure of wood is relatively light, but very strong. This makes a wooden home a safe and sustainable place to live. A solidly built wooden house can be earthquake resistant.
  • Wood has a good insulating value, which means that energy consumption is minimal.
  • At a time when the need for sustainable construction has become urgent, wood holds huge potential.
  • Building with wood offers an attractive equation: shorter construction time + lower cost = more housing, faster.
  • Wood is easy to maintain and repair. There are many treatments for wood finishes including oils, stains, and paints that can be applied and are effective within a few hours. If repairs are needed, both contractors and homeowners can easily use handheld tools to cut, plane, or fasten wooden materials together.

 

What are disadvantages of building with wood?

 

As with anything, there are disadvantages to building with wood. However, many of the disadvantages of wood as a construction material are diminishing thanks to advances by chemists and engineers.

Cons:

  • Wood is more subject to rot, mold, and mildew than concrete.
  • There are fire hazards in the early stages of construction, when the wood frame is largely exposed and unprotected.
  • While the International Code Council has become more accepting of wood construction, in general these buildings still cannot be as tall as others.
  • Insects are only second to decay fungi in the economic loss they cause to lumber and wood in service. Insects can be separated into four categories: Termites, powder post beetles, carpenter ants, and marine borers. All pose a threat to wooden constructions.
  • Wood is an excellent choice for many traditional houses, especially those in a timber frame style. Some design features found in more contemporary houses, however, like cantilevered elements or large windows, can be difficult to achieve relying on wood frame construction.
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