Building with wood

Building with wood

Understanding a material is an intrinsic part of architecture. Continuing last year’s exploration of materiality, construction and self-build, we will work exclusively with timber as a primary building material for our year-long project. We will investigate domestic space & residential architecture and the part that timber plays in their creation.

We will collectively investigate the contemporary production of timber and timber-based building materials, both locally and globally. We will trace back the source of the material and the distribution chains, from the forestry to the saw mill, to builders’ merchants and workshops and onto the construction site, to reveal how it is shaping our lives today. The use of wood is not only restricted to the structural elements, but also including various finishes and surface treatments, as well as fixtures and fittings down to smallest details.


The theme of self-build will continue this year. We will start by dismantling last year’s pavilion in the garden of Dorich House Museum. This will introduce you to the Unit’s ethos towards group work, which encourages a hands-on and collaborative approach to architecture.

‘The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945’ exhibition at Barbican Centre

The Unit will engage with Barbican Centre for the forthcoming Japanese architecture exhibition in March 2017, by collectively building a 1:1 teahouse installation designed by Japanese architect/ architecture historian Terunobu Fujimori. We will collaborate with Fujimori to learn about and realise contemporary, prefabricated construction techniques and traditional surface finishes, as well as designing and making fixtures and fittings.

Suburban Housing Project

Surbiton, one of the first major suburban towns in the UK, was conceived during 1840s when the London-Southampton railway line opened to connect London Waterloo and the South-West. Our building project will be to propose alternative models for suburban volume house building, with a community focus, for a site in Kingston/Surbiton.

Unit trips

Our major trip will be to Japan where we will spend 5 days in Hida, Gifu prefecture, a historic mountainous site where we will carry out an intense workshop with local manufacturers and residents, learning about local forestry, timber production, traditional crafts and contemporary digital fabrication technologies. We will visit Tokyo to view some inspiring examples of residential architecture, which will help to inform our housing project.