Use of wood in construction on the rise

Jurgen Arts - Houtbouw Lente
Photo credit: Studio040 (Jos Verkuijlen)

Over the next few years, a thousand social housing units made of wood will be built in our province. That does not sound like a lot, but it is still special. The Brabant housing corporations are leading the way in the Netherlands. They see wooden frame construction as the future. “Raw materials are running out, and making concrete and steel causes a lot of CO2 emissions,” says Jurgen Arts of Houtbouw Lente

In Uden’s De Bogerd neighbourhood, the housing corporation area has 40 houses built. Yes, there are some bricks to be seen. Yet a very large part of one such building is made of wood and other so-called biobased stuff. “These are materials made from natural, renewable raw materials,” Area project manager Dirk van den Tillaar explains immediately. “You sow a plant, you harvest it, and you make building materials from that. That could be insulation or, for example,” he says.

Renewable materials

Van den Tillaar walks over to one of the wooden walls. At least it looks like wood. “These walls are made of bamboo, which is harvested and shredded. Binder goes in, and then you press planks from that.” Behind that facade, though, is a wooden frame. The roof is a sedum roof, which is made of plants,” Van den Tillaar explains. “Those also make sure there are more insects.” With that, these houses are partly built from renewable materials but not completely. There are still some stone walls, and some of the construction is concrete.

Social housing

Eight Brabant housing associations started working together two years ago to build more houses from wood and other renewable materials. Now there are about 20 building projects across the province. Together, these account for 1,000 houses. “That’s quite a lot,” thinks Jurgen Arts of Houtbouw Lente. That’s the name of the club of housing associations where they work together to build more from wood. Throughout the Netherlands, only two per cent of newly built houses still consist of wood. “With housing corporations, it is even much less,” says Arts. “In Brabant, we are going to make more than ten per cent of new social housing for rent from wood.”

In wood, unless

Arts points across the street to a row of brick houses. “This is how we have always made them,” he says. “It has long been the familiar mix of masonry, concrete and steel. We want to change that.” According to Arts, this is badly needed. “Raw materials are running out, and making concrete and steel creates a lot of CO2 emissions.” So there are big plans on the table. Arts: “We are starting with a thousand houses here now. But I think there will be many more in ten years’ time. Then the norm will be: ‘We build with wood, unless’ instead of ‘We build in concrete, unless’.”

Source: Studio040

Translator: Martijn


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