Número 137 III-IV 2011 
18 €



More Wood. Ductile and expressive, wood has lived several lives in architecture. First, as a traditional material, abundant and efficiently used by craftsmen. Later, as a hindrance to modernity, until its transformation into an isotropic and resilient industrial product reawoke architects' interest in it, although for its expressive qualities rather than for its constructive ones. Today, environmental requirements, the emergence of digital design and the growing use of automated tools open up new and surprising paths for the architectural use of this ancient material.


Enrique Nuere
Recovered Tradition
Wood in Spain Today
Achim Menges
Wood Megabytes
The New Computational Design
Jan Willmann
The Digital Carpenter
Towards Robotized Manufacture

Works / Projects

From 'folie' to Building. From tree to board, from board to plywood and from plywood to bit. Covering this path, one clearly notices the asymmetric qualitative changes that wood has experienced, starting out as an almost archaic material to become an unsuspectedly technological one. This metamorphosis is present in a series of recent examples, grouped in two categories. On the one hand, a collection of wood 'folies' – four small pavilions, a control tower and a public facility – which explore with digital and robotic means the material's new possibilities; on the other, a heterogeneous group of mid-size interventions that both in the East – two buildings of complex geometry and a small school made of bamboo – and in the West – a farm shed, dwellings and a library – provide examples of the new uses of wood.


Menges & Knippers,Germany
Gramazio & Kohler, Switzerland
Patkau Architects, Canada
Adjaye Associates, UK
Birk und Heilmeyer,, Germany
TYIN Tegnestue, Thailand
Kengo Kuma, Japan
Shigueru Ban/KACISouth Korea
PT Bamboo Pure, Indonesia
De Leon & Primmer, EE UU
Bernard Bühler,France
M57 arquitectos, Spain

Art / Culture

Memory of Communism. Two photography books take stock of the unknown and surprising architecture of the last years of the USSR and of the unusual and abstract monuments built in socialist Yugoslavia.


Frédéric Chaubin
Cosmic Communism
Willem Jan Neutelings
Commemorating Oblivion

Expressionist Visions.The celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Rudolf Steiner coincides with two exhibitions on Bruno Taut, prompting to update our views about the oeuvre of these unique artists.
Eduardo Prieto
Glass Chimeras
Kosme de Barañano
Temples of Expression
The Medium is the Massage. Luis Fernández-Galiano reviews two books by Beatriz Colomina on architecture and mass media. Moreover, texts about Jane Jacobs; Open, by Manuel Gausa and The Myth of the Machine, by Lewis Mumford.
Focho's Cartoon
Indignant Architects
Various Authors
Technique / Construction

Innovation in Detail. The new auditorium designed by the architect Francisco Mangado in Teulada opens the section devoted to technological innovation, which also includes an article on the application of tensegrity principles to enclosures, the second in a series about lightweight facades. Moreover, a catalogue of products, classified by theme, presents some of the novelties in the market, such as the new uses of ETFE, the development of SUDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems), two industrialized and eco-efficient modular systems, flexible sheets and ecological panels with wood derivatives and, finally, a list of wood-related products.


Francisco Mangado
Auditorium in Teulada
Paricio y Pardal
Tensegrity Designs
In short

To close, an essay which, in the wake of the latest occurrences in the Arab world and Norway, reflects on the failed project for a multicultural Europe.
Luis Fernández-Galiano
Bats in the Mosque


Luis Fernández-Galiano
More Wood

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Wood, more wood! The technique of construction calls for more wood due to its structural efficiency and its malleability in experimental uses; the ethics of nature demands more wood on account of its condition of renewable resource and its easy recycling: and the aesthetics of perception claims for more wood because of its warmth to the touch or the eye and its evocation of origins or beginnings. If the Vitruvian triad is still useful to weigh up the world, the firmitas of wood is present in the excellent behavior of its frames, light and resistant at once; its utilitas resides in its sustainability, which has turned it into the favorite material of the green movement; and its venustas must be found in the empathy aroused by a biological texture marked by the memory of its growth. The pure reason of calculus, the practical reason of morals and, last but not least, artistic judgment, all coincide in praising the virtues of humble wood.
"Wood has come back, though it never went away". Fifteen years ago we devoted an issue (Arquitectura Viva 48, May-June 1996, 'De madera') to this timeless material, drawing attention towards the inevitable paradox of speaking about its comeback when it was still used in all the geographies and climates of the planet, and towards how questionable it was to continue using that conventional name when it had become an almost entirely artificial product: "Thus, neither is it coming back nor is it wood proper". But at the same time we already underlined how the material was in tune with the increasing environmental awareness, and placed on record that if postmodernism was petreous and solemn, and if deconstructive grammar was made with diagonal glass sheets and metals held by sculptural concretes, "the new sobriety of the present times of silence resorts to the laconic language of wood".
In fact, thinking it over, neither does wood seem to be fully incompatible with classicism or dislocated geometries, as shown by traditional structures or the theatrical frames of constructivists, nor does minimalist abstraction express itself only with wood, because its favorite materials have actually been glass and steel. If today, many years later, we acknowledge a renewed popularity of wood, the cause must be found perhaps in its ecological virtues and in the technical advances that allow using it efficient and economically in a great variety of circumstances. These advances, that came mainly from the field of chemistry in our earlier issue, now come, in the most singular experiences, from computers, which are transforming the treatment and use of wood in construction just as they are changing the whole architectural scene. We need more wood, but we shall use it as a digital material.