Talking Trees & Timber: In Buildings, Facades and Urban Habitat

Okay, okay; I have a tree-thing going on. This issue was supposed to be about green facades, but it morphed on me as I laid it out. But here’s the thing: if you don’t have a tree-thing going on, you should consider it. I read The Overstory (graciously reviewed here by our Val Block) followed by a viewing of “Call of the Forest” (item 5) while swimming in new information on and applications of cross-laminated timber (CLT) in buildings, inquiries about the potential of the use of timber in facade systems, and studying the carbon sequestration properties of wood. (I mean, where would we be without the breath-making mechanics of photosynthesis?!)

Somehow it all acted to push me over the edge into tree-epiphany. This was over the holiday break and I was taking morning walks in our local park looking at the pines and picking up these magical cones—these magnificently crafted natural works of art—and taking them home, filling baskets and covering mantles and shelves. Tree-mania ensued. For our very first trip post-pandemic, my wife and I are planning on packing up a rental RV and heading up the Pacific coast to see what remains of the old growth trees and forests—that’s right, “gone fishing” for old trees. It may be enough to inspire me to revisit my long dormant Instagram account, we’ll see. I don’t think the linkage between trees/timber and the building skin requires much explanation. But the trees, like plants and buildings and, ultimately, we ourselves, are also linked to the soil, and I plan to take you there in an upcoming issue, so remember that the soil is only two-degrees removed from the facade system and, in fact, we’ll show you examples where soil systems are being integrated with the building facade.

So, for content we have a lineup of timber related articles and papers along with some intriguing notions of urban forestation, or “Treetopias,” as well as some entertainment ideas that might help fill the pandemic void with a bit of inspiration. There’s a presentation in the mix by friend Graham Finch, but if you are looking for a podcast and have not already done so, you can check out our SKINS podcast on Modular Prefab & Offsite Manufacturing (part of the Building Science 6-pack with co-host Ted Kesik) with guest Graham Finch and Vincent Davenport.

As always, we love your comments, suggestions, criticisms and, most of all, your fan mail, so please keep it coming: skins@facadetectonics.org.

Gotta go climb a tree!

The SKINS Team

Mic Patterson
Executive Editor

Val Block, Kuraray
Associate Editor

Katie Gould
Creative Director

Brienna Rust, SGH
Christopher Payne, Gensler
Marty Trainor, Ventana
Content Editors

Nick Carrillo, WWCCA
Event Calendar Editor

Alberto Alarcon, Kuraray
Event Calendar Editor


Photo of Mic Patterson, PhD, LEED AP+

Mic Patterson, PhD, LEED AP+

SKINS Executive Editor

Facade Tectonics Institute

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