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Timber frames

Timber is to the 21th century what Portland cement was to the 20th and steel to the 19th century. Timber as a renewable resource is the future as well as a past to rediscover.

While in some corners of the world architects and engineers already build ten and twenty storey buildings in timber, in most countries timber is still considered old fashioned, unsafe and non durable.

If used properly according to its characteristics, timber is neither a fire hazard nor is it rotting away uncontrollably. On the contrary, timber structures respond to earthquakes much better than most concrete-based buildings.

Timber frame buildings have been built for centuries. Accordingly various types have been developed in different parts of the world. Some of them have proved to be particularly suitable

to earthquake-prone regions. They will be presented here on this website.

Unfortunately, with the arrival of modern building materials and techniques much of the traditional know-how on timber construction is being lost. This shift of interest is in part is due to the higher maintenance required for traditional organic building material. With the right construction details however degradation can be greatly reduced to a level similar to modern materials.


What is more, the state of the building can be observed continuously and repairs be made in time which is often not the case with cement plastered masonry buildings.

Last but not least, timber structures are lighter  than masonry and its single elements can be connected more easily to each other, making it an ideal material for earthquake engineering.

Dhajji (Kashmir), Hımış (Turkey)

Timber structures with stone or brick infills are common throughout the world. They are called "half-timber" in England, "Fachwerk" in Germany, "colombage" in France, "graticcio" in Italy, "gaiola" in Portugal or "Gingerbread" in Haiti. Here we present only a few versions developed in earthquake-prone areas.

Dhajji construction being built.jpg

Wattle & daub and Bahareque

Wattle & daub or Bahareque (in Latin America) is a construction technique made of a light wooden support structure which then may get plastered with a mud or lime mortar. Wattle & daub is called "clissage" in France, "quincha" in Latin America and "bagdadi" in Turkey.

Wattle and daub unplastered house Shigar

Timber-frames with cladding

Timber structures clad with wooden boards are very common not only for sheds but also for housing all over the world. Because of their reduced weight and inherent strength they are an ideal building technique for earthquake-prone areas. particularly for adding an upper floor to an existing building.

Upper floor in timber in Pedernales Ecuador
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