Just over a year ago I stood outside a glulam plant in Finland and looked at the view. The plant was on raised ground and you could see for miles. And almost all that you could see were trees.
It takes a vista like that to make one realise how natural and abundant a resource timber is - and a look at the processes in one of the major timber-producing countries to appreciate just how sophisticated harvesting and subsequent treatment are.
So, with excellent environmental credentials, and a sophisticated production system, why has wood had such a relatively small impact on major building projects in the UK? There is no reason for timber not to be specified much more widely, except for ignorance and the fear that it engenders.
With architectural education having an ever-falling technical content, it is increasingly attractive for architects to specify the materials to which they, or their colleagues, are accustomed.
High-profile practices as diverse as Edward Cullinan Architects and Michael Hopkins and Partners have done pioneering work in timber, but they are still relatively thin on the ground. With too few examples, timber can still seem somehow different and too difficult to specify.
It is this impasse that the wood. for good campaign is addressing. It has three strands. The first strand aims to persuade makers of housing policy of the benefits of using timber. The second strand informs professionals about how successful timber can be as both a structural and a cladding material, backing this up with technical guidance and research information from the Timber Research and Development Association. The third strand addresses consumers, with a large-scale and visual publicity campaign, to encourage them to use wood and demand timber buildings.
The Architects' Journal is delighted to have the support of wood. for good in the production of this supplement.
Response from readers is always welcome but, in this case, the best response will be to see a fascinating crop of new timber buildings in a couple of years' time.