Thoughts of Wood

An alternative to concrete


Concrete is the single most widely used material in the world, with a considerable impact on our planet. As architect, we are responsible to look for alternatives.


“La construction est la langue maternelle de l’architecte. L’architecte est un poète qui pense et parle en construction”

Contribution à une théorie de l'architecture, Perret, Auguste, éditions André Wahl, 1952


The project presented is realistic investigation on a competition stage for alternative to concrete. Beyond the technical solutions, Beniada Clement is looking for the adapted language of new constructions, a method referring to the poetry of Auguste Perret. What if there are alternatives that we could use in a sustainable way and replace the reinforced concrete as much as possible? Wood construction is not a revolution. It was probably used for the first architecture of our human history: “la cabanne primitive”, but elements such as the CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) allow today to build large scale buildings answering to similar requirements as the concrete.


Beyond the technical details, the wood construction offers a new ground of thoughts for architects.


The project: “Hautbois” reflects on the expression of the wood facade as a constructive language and not just as an element to clad/hide as most of the project we know is doing. Indeed, in our proposal the assembly principle of the CLT system is expressed by the facade, offering a lecture on the constructive system behind it. We composed the façade following its constructive logic, of panels and slab; a system offering windows floor to floors. This attention to details show a delicate façade, where even the water pipe, is expressed as a column of the balconies.


Every element is expressed, the building reveals its self to the street and its inhabitant.


An attention to such detail is only feasible thanks to an easy construction site and the CLT system, where all the prefabricated element is assembled on site. The proposal answers to a high-density programme of 110 flats in a small and constrained plot. Placed in the suburbs of Lausanne, the wood constructive expression gives to the proposal an ambiguous lecture, between urban and rural, between “la barre” and “la maison”, between the park and the street.Within the units, the plans always have two orientations and offer a flexibility of use. Because of its high demand of flats and the limited area of construction, we organised a way of living within the depth, from the balcony to the loggia, from the street to the park, from south to north.


Beniada Clement is seeking for realistic alternatives in architecture. To be continued…


Concours pour la réalisation de logements au quartier du Désert.

Collaborateurs : Elsa Beniada, Augustin Clément, Martin Lepoutre