AE 22: Logs

Think of buildings made from logs, and small cabins along the lines of the below image probably come to mind. These distinctive buildings date back to the 17th century in the United States, centuries or millennia earlier in Europe. Exterior walls are constructed of stacked round or square logs made from local trees; the space in-between is filled with mud and grass. The logs interlock those of the perpendicular walls at the corners, where the ends of the logs are then visible.

Three Indian Men in Front of a Cabin

In Stovewood or Stackwood buildings the end of the log is all that is visible. Exterior walls are built from logs about one foot long that are normally used for stoves (hence the name), at least centuries ago when the method was popular in Canada and the United States. The space in between is filled with lime mortar. Of course it was not as popular as log cabins like the ones above, but the influence of stovewood walls, directly or indirectly, and the use of logs as an architectural elemtent is found in some recent houses in Europe.

[Stackwood Houses at Mother Earth News | image source]

Flag by Propeller Z (spotted in Edition29) is an addition to a small farmhouse in Fahndorf, Austria, a residence for the architects. The addition extends an existing "U"-shaped building, changing it into a lower-case "y." This extension reaches towards the top of the ground's slope, looking like it rests on it on one side and the existing on the other. One side of the new portion is full-height glass, and the opposite side fills the oversized metal frame with stacked wood.

[Flag by propeller z | photo by Hertha Hurnaus | image source]

Unlike traditional stackwood walls, these cut logs are actually used for firewood, meaning the north elevation changes over the course of the winter. It is like the Somis Hay Barn by SPF:a, where horses eat the hay that lines the exterior walls. The architects are quoted in Metropolis Magazine: "There's a wood stack behind every building here, and we wanted to connect to the context without necessarily having a pitched roof or something."

[Flag by Propeller Z | photo by Hertha Hurnaus | image source]

In Mimi Zeiger's soon-to-be-released Micro Green three projects with cut sections of logs are included among the thirty-six projects. An example similar to Flag is Writer's Block II by Cheng + Snyder, where the logs on end are infill within a larger frame. Flak (Flake House), originally in Nantes, France, by OLGGA Architects, on the other hand, melds traditional log cabins with stackwood walls.

[Flak by OLGGA Architects | image source]

Flak was a response for a 2006 competition CAUE 72 and was designed as a portable folie. The two pieces can be located at will on site, propped up on pieces of timber. Placed close to and at a slight angle to each other, as in the photos here, they resemble a "broken branch," as the architects describe it. This is furthered by the way the cut sections on the end project at different distances, like a rough cut through a once singular building, not a clean cut with a giant chain saw.

[Flak by OLGGA Architects | image source]

Another Micro Green project is Piet Hein Eek's Log House for composer Hans Liberg in Hilversum, Netherlands. Like Flak, long trunks define the side walls and roof, with cut logs exposed on the ends. Here they effect is like a large stack of logs, firewood for Paul Bunyan. But a close look at the below photo reveals what appears to be a rectangular incision in the elevation with the log sections.

[Log House by Piet Hein Eek | image source]

Well, that turns out to be an operable shutter that lifts to open up the small interior to the landscape (a small shutter and window on the adjacent side opens this vista even larger). Piet actually cut the shutters from the stack of wood, held in place during construction to achieve the effect of a solid stack of wood. Open it is a building; closed it is a work of art.

[Log House by Piet Hein Eek | image source]


  1. propeller z's concept of the firewood wall overlooks the reality of a stack of firewood. The reason stacks of wood are located behind buildings (and preferably behind a shed or other outbuilding) is that roaches, spiders and a whole host of other critters turn the stack of wood into a teeming high-rise structure.

    this aside from that the wood seems a little inaccessible from what the images on their website shows.

    but an interesting mesh of vernacular function and modern design.

  2. I have seen logs in homes that are purely there for design - in one of designer Jeffrey Bilhuber's books. The cut logs were there for their textural interest - and it made a great design statement.

    I look forward to more of your posts.

    Linda Leyble

  3. Great blog you have here. My blog is mostly about architecture too.
    Sydney - City and Suburbs

  4. this post reminded me of an exhibition I recently visited in the VAI, the Vorarlberger Architektur Institut. it's about traditional stables in vorarlberg (austria), south tirol (italy) and graub√ľnden (switzerland), how they are used or not used and converted today.
    you should check it out. it's very intresting how those simple traditional wooden buildings were and are still used.

    (link is in german)

  5. "There's a wood stack behind every building here, and we wanted to connect to the context without necessarily having a pitched roof or something."

    one wouldn't wanna break the "bauhaus flat-roof rule",
    and shed the snow in a cold climate, where you might happen to need a woodstove.



Post a Comment

Comments are moderated for spam.