The material and its properties

Trees give us the material we call 'wood', also known as 'timber' (or lumber' in North America) when used in construction.Wood is derived from two main types of tree: conifers, and the broad-leaved deciduous trees. These two types of wood are often referred to as 'softwood'and 'hardwood' respectively, although by no means all coniferous wood is actually softer than the

8.2 Wohnhaus in Hof, Basel (architect: Herzog & de Meuron)

8.3 Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames (architect: David Chipperfield)

hardwood varieties and some hardwoods are much softer The two main groups comprise many different species of tree, and hence many different types of wood. Moreover, every individual tree is different, depending on the location and conditions of its growth.The differences between groups, species and individual trees account for the differences in the physical properties of the resultant wood.

Where wood is used in construction, a number of properties are particularly relevant. They include its natural 'anistropy' (see below), the effects of changing humidity, vulnerability to biological damage by fauna (insects, crustaceans and termites), fungi and bacteria, flammability and thermal insulation properties in relation to strength.

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