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Wooden houses – the story of a child's fantasy that reshaped an industry

Raise a hand if you ever dreamt of owning a treehouse as a child? A magical place where you could have fun and let your imagination run freely, living a thousand adventures.
In recent years, adults are increasingly sharing this children’s fantasy. The construction of wooden houses is now a real trend and is constantly growing: according to the latest research carried out by FederlegnoArredo, in Italy alone seven new buildings out of 100 are built with this material, especially in the Northern regions, creating a market that approaches 700 million euros a year. More interestingly, Italy ranks just fourth in Europe in the production of assembled wood products - behind Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden, but is well ahead with respect to the other Scandinavian countries, Austria and France, and recorded a strong growth in the volume of exports.

New trends in architecture

This trend shows that people, in the context of greater interest in health and environment themes, which has led them to pay more and more attention to healthy food, physical activity and holistic disciplines, are gradually rediscovering sustainable architecture, also labelled as “Green building”.

Green building aims to reduce the consumption of non-renewable energy, using environmentally friendly materials and trying to minimise the harmful effects of housing structures on both the health of those who occupy them and the surrounding environment.

Among the various materials used in Green building, wood is probably the one that has undergone the most important development, thanks to its characteristics, which make possible to build safe, energy efficient and environmentally friendly buildings.

Five reasons why wooden houses are the buildings of the future

Fashion aside, what are the reasons why wooden houses are increasingly being built?
1. Energy saving
First of all, energy saving: wood has excellent insulating and breathing capacities, it stabilises the temperature in the rooms and guarantees the reduction of both heating and cooling costs.
2. Safety
Second, safety reasons: wood is lighter than conventional construction materials, but it has the same resistance and can withstand the stresses that occur during an earthquake even four times better than concrete.
3. Respect for the environment
Moreover, wood is the only material that is truly renewable and recyclable, and its use is clearly beneficial for the environment, since it allows for a better and more rational management and maintenance of forest resources.
4. Building and upkeep costs reduction
Furthermore, wooden houses are cheaper to build and maintain, thanks to the eco-incentives made available to those who build or renovate an ecological home and the drastic reduction of assembly times they require, which allows building a house from scratch in a matter of weeks.

However, wood is not just taking over housing or lodging. Thanks to new technologies and processes, wood is becoming the material of the future also for the construction of large buildings and skyscrapers: Sumitomo Forestry Construction Company has recently presented the W350 Project, which in 2041 will lead to the creation of a wooden building 350 meters high in the very centre of Tokyo.

5. Harmful substances reduction
Furthermore, as Michael Green, a leading Canadian architect, suggests, "Just like with snowflakes, you'll never find two identical pieces of wood" which, in times of constant demand for customisation, is another point in favour of this material.

Finally, building with wood and limiting the use of non-natural materials reduces the concentration of harmful substances, thus improving air quality inside the house and with it the welcoming feeling of well-being that every "home" should have.

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