Architects always manage to produce a nice design, more elegant, more balanced. Much more elegant than what we normal earthlings could come up with. Architects also make it more expensive, but hey… it looks better… Beauty has a price.
But then some clients do manage to produce something nice themselves. This client came to us with some simple sketches. They were based on our Eric & Flo but still looked like nothing special. So we translated it into technical drawings and now we are assembling the house. And now look here, what is this? A beauty!
Why one client can do this while most of us need an architect, honestly we don’t know. And what exactly makes this house nice and more elegant than other houses we also do not understand, actually that is why we team up with architects. But nice it is.
This is a traditional loghouse. Laminated massive wood, connected with wooden dowels (Swedes call this a “timmerhus”), and then finished with larch on the outside. Proven techniques and a modern design, it is possible. And yes, the building site is a mess, please ignore that and come back in two months…
These days we design everything in 3D software such as AutoDesk Revit, and sometimes Sketchup. For us the main advantage is that it allows us to more easily communicate with clients.
The old 2D drawings worked very well for the experienced specialist, but for everybody else 3D is easier.
We haven’t seen any HoloLens augmented reality goggles on our building sites yet, but laptops are common. We still think it is a bit risky to open your 3.000 euro MacBook in the dust and the dirt, but hey, you need to check this 3D window connection thing so…
But even with all this 3D stuff some challenges remain. The engineer behind his super 3D CAD station can place a foundation pole to the millimeter in his drawing, but there is no way the guy that runs the drilling machine can place that pole to the millimeter. With wood we can work almost to the millimeter, but foundations have a much bigger construction tolerance. So once on the building site we may find the foundation to be slightly different from what we expected. Now what?
Easy: we use a pencil and a piece of wood, and we fix it. No AutoCAD, no 3D Revit, no HoloLens, just a pencil. Works fine.
Of course there is a risk to it. The flexibility that you get from fixing things on the building site might be offset by the introduction of construction errors. It is exactly this disconnect between the 3D design from the office and the actual implementation on the building site, that made a multi-level car park collapse at Eindhoven Airport.
But for simple things like the windows installation in a log house we feel confident that we can fix it with a pencil.
We are currently building a house from cross laminated timber. Cross laminated timber, or CLT, is a bit like multiplex but then more complex. You take wooden planks 40×40 mm and glue them together into a board, en then you take a second board and glue it on top of the first one. And then a third, and a fourth, until you have the desired thickness. Instead of 40x40mm you can also use 30×30, or 25×25, but the end result is always the same: a massive wooden board that you use to construct walls.
Not too far from LegoLand in Denmark we are building an Eric & Flo, but then bigger. Much bigger. And modified into an L-shape with car park under the main roof.
Little patience please, this photo needs a few seconds to load …
And since this is Denmark, the insulation requirements are extreme. But the basic concept is still the same. Traditional logs, connected with traditional dowels, lots of insulation, damp-open and larch on the outside.
With the cost of energy rising every year, and with the daily increase of the “energy transition” effort, many houses are designed around one central theme: saving energy. Everybody installs heat pumps and solar panels and ventilation systems and batteries, all to make sure we minimize our carbon footprint. Green is good.
We have finished a log house just South of Lyon. Lyon is quickly becoming like Paris, with traffic jams and honking cars everywhere. But drive 20km and you’re in lushy fields, vineyards and small villages named Châlons, Rousillon, Saint-Romain-de-Surieu and more names that give us such a warm feeling.
We started with another new log house in The Netherlands. Construction is, as always, very traditional, with dowels to connect the logs together and big beams in the roof. Today we visitied the building site with our client and afterwards he sent us some photos. And guess what, our client likes the massive beams as much as we do, because they were on each photo.