How we Make Houses with Trees


A brief prepared for MArch Design + Make students’ 2021 main studio project – a small residence made from forest products.

Wood has served as an essential structural material for millennia and yet it is some time since we have done something truly novel with the wooden house at scale. While the prolific 2” x 4” frame or the more recent mass timber home become more efficient each year, they continue to depend on a view of timber as little more than ‘tree stuff’ – readily shaped to our demands. We want to question the reductionism of these approaches.

This year we pursue novel ways of making houses from trees. We seek systems which are both unusual (and unexpected) while also efficient. The system developed will be demonstrated in a one-off construction for the Hooke Park campus, but it must have a view to the commercial market – including the potential to be further developed and repeated often.

More timber in construction is not simply better. In place of pure cost or carbon capture we want to account for the effects on our labour, our economy, our health, and crucially our surrounding environments (including living and non-living neighbours).

The full brief can be found here.

Slideshow and PDF linked above include additional reference imagery from Michael Amery, Jason Griffiths, Giuseppe Penone, William Garnett and Wyatt Armstrong.