A building material which has been falling into obscurity from the beginning of the modern era begins its return to contemporary architecture and the public consciousness. Whilst steel, glass, brick and concrete have long been symbols for modern building, now a construction material which is probably the oldest in history enriches the architecture of today. The renaissance of modern timber building began in the early nineties and seems set to develop continuously.
A familiar material presents itself in a new diversity. Ongoing research is yielding huge development and improvement in structural engineering and in the use of timber. Computer aided methods in calculation and production offer completely new forms of design. A well-known building material now provides innovative and interesting contributions to modern architecture, which were developed all over the world and which were unimaginable until a short time ago.
Building with timber provides clear responses to the pressing questions of climate change. On the one hand timber buildings retain the climate relevant gas carbon dioxide within the construction and on the other hand how conventional, energy intensive building materials can be replaced by the use of a truly renewable resource. It is clear that wood has become the symbol of sustainability and of resource-saving building. Such hope for the solutions to the environmental problems of the construction industry can be found in no other building material.
The fascination for a material lies in the multipurpose usability in combination with the local availability. A material which has demonstrated for centuries its suitability for use in huge structures as well as for furniture, which grows ‘next door’ and which is still associated with feelings of comfort by many people. In addition to these criteria, modern timber construction must meet additional requirements, which are the focus of teaching and research. It is primarily about the appropriateness of the construction, the designer's response to the building volume, the task, the location and composition, the material-appropriate connections as well as the efficient fulfillment of tasks in technical and functional terms. A rational, comprehensible and transparent methodological approach in teaching is indispensable to convey the complex design process.