Should We Elevate Timber Construction in Cities?

Should future suburban homes rely more on timber?
Image: Pixabay

One architect believes designers need to look to the past, at site-appropriate and livable timber homes across the U.S., to build the suburbs of the future.

Drive around the suburbs that arose around most American cities immediately before and after the second world war and you can spot them immediately: the homes that take the “ranchburger” just that much further, tilting the roof up, expressing the structure, stretching the proportions, and opening up the box.

They are constructed largely out of the same materials that you can see all around them: standard lumber, wood siding, glass, and perhaps a shingled roof. It is just that in these particular structures you can understand how those materials fit together, while their overall form is a refined version of the gabled, horizontally stretched version of the houses that were home to the American boom years. They are the promise of the suburban American home to make you at home in a new landscape fulfilled.

The further west you go across the country, the more expressive the forms become. While the presence on the East Coast of modern masters such as Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer may have set the tone for a more reserved and monumental form of residential architecture there, by the time you get to the Midwest, the post-war homes begin to move out of the box in a Frank Lloyd Wright mode.

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Watch the timelapse video of the largest modern mass timber building in the U.S. 

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