Book Review: Out of the Woods, Architecture and Interiors Built from Wood

The building industry is responsible for 40% of carbon emission globally, and with 70% of the world population expected to move to cities by 2050, these numbers will go up. With growing pressure to house more people and land scarcity in the cities, high rise buildings could help address this situation. Currently, concrete dominates the construction industry, and it's a go-to for high rise construction. Concrete alone accounts for 8% of carbon emission globally, and there is an urgent need to look for more sustainable alternatives which can help lower carbon emissions.

In recent years, wood has re-emerged as an alternative, being seen as a viable sustainable option in the construction industry. Agencies like Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) offer certification on timber, ensuring that it comes from responsibly managed forests according to a set of standards. That further ensures that we can track every wood back to its source, giving designers an option to use wood that is produced locally. With advances in technology, Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) is emerging as an alternative for wood for high-rise construction, as some CLT are stronger than steel and lighter than concrete while being sustainably available and leave significantly lower carbon footprint.

Gestalten | Book cover

Gestalten’s book Out of the Woods - Architecture and Interiors Built from Wood, takes a deep dive exploring the latest and the most significant projects built using wood as the primary material. The book does an excellent job in showcasing the versatility of wood and, through several essays sprinkled throughout the book, puts up a good argument for using wood as a primary building material. This straight-to-the-point book doesn't waste time getting on, showing its reader the real potential of wood as a construction material. Wood has been used as a construction material for as long as humans have built settlements. In recent times, with advances in engineering, we have sort of rediscovered this material. The high carbon footprint of conventional materials like concrete and steel has made us look once again to wood as the primary construction choice.

The book presents more than 30 projects in various typologies and scale, showing the potential and majesty of wood for architecture and interior use. The book, in a way, is a collection of short stories showcasing the capability and versatility of timber. From small cabins to future multi-storey projects selected from around the world and featuring different climate type, the book pushes the sustainable development agenda and makes the reader rethink how we make buildings.  

It also includes small profile pieces on various practices, worldwide, and one that I particularly enjoyed reading was on Alexis Dornier and the award-winning work his firm is doing in Bali. This chapter is a delightful read to get into the architect's mind to understand how he approaches his work.

This book ultimately is about the appreciation of wood as a material, and it seduces its readers through high-quality photography. It is a serious eye candy that captures the beauty of wooden construction perfectly. Since this is not meant to offer a detailed exploration of wood as a construction material, there is a lack of architectural drawings and details for someone looking for those. Most projects begin with a small description, highlighting the use of wood; accompanying that is an exquisite selection of images which conveys the beauty of architecture and wood as a material.

Out of the Woods realign our thinking towards the possibility of wood as construction material. This book is designed to be consumed through our eyes, on the feast of beautiful spread of photography and thought-provoking projects that will leave a lasting impression.




Humans have been building homes from wood for thousands of years, and yet, in a contemporary world of option and innovation, the most primitive resource could in fact be the most pertinent.

Stretching back to historic Japanese houses, becoming synonymous with resort accommodation, and intertwining itself in the modern trend of hygge, its tactility and warmth have influenced countless architectural design movements. Timber is fast emerging as a viable material of choice, a safe, sturdy, and sustainable alternative to concrete. Architects are rediscovering wood’s universal appeal, thanks to recent technological advances.

This book explores the innovative and inspiring ways architects are using this universal building material. Spanning grand Alpine escapes to tropical getaways, plywood penthouses to mass timber high-rises, Out of the Woods documents their progressive and inspiring creations from the foundations up.



Authors: gestalten
Release date: September 2020
Format: 24 x 30 cm
Features: Full colour, hardcover, stitch bound, 288 pages 
ISBN: 978-3-89955-859-3