sketch up 3d rendering of modern timber house exterior

Beyond Tradition: Modern Timber Framing

The timber frame structure, often associated with traditional barns from the 19th century and earlier, makes a wonderful structure for modern design. Two of our recent projects incorporate a timber frame to achieve striking results.

hybridhouse: On the shore of Bare Hill Pond in Harvard, MA, our client requested an intimate house that reflected their love of modernism. A cutting edge aesthetic is achieved with a flat roof, dramatic overhangs and a wall of glass facing the water. A wood structure of glue-laminated timber frames the large windows facing the water. The back of the house, facing away from the water is framed with standard insulated 2×4 walls resulting in an effective hybrid home.

sketch up 3d rending of timber framed structure

woodshop: Our client owns a beautiful wooded property on Hickory Island where the St. Lawrence River meets Lake Ontario. The stand of white pines where the barn and future home are to be built provide the timber resource. Working with New Energy Works, a local timber frame company, Flavin Architects designed the barn with a modern interpretation of the gable form. In contrast to traditional New England barns, where the timber frame is concealed from view by the exterior cladding, we pushed to celebrate the building frame, exposing it on the inside and the highlighting the mass and beauty on the outside.

New Energy Works Website:

Timber Framing uses large squared off wooden timbers, widely spaced to create the building’s frame. The inherent systems ability to span large distances made it common to use as a barns structure where flexible open interior space is ideal. Traditionally, the timbers are joined with intricate connections requiring exquisite craftsmanship. We now employ easier to install steel fasteners that are far more rigid than the traditional joints.

Advantages of modern timber framing:

You See What You Pay For: In conventional homes, standard wood framing relies on many smaller members in the 2” to 10” range, which are hidden from view with interior drywall and exterior sheathing. Our timber frame projects use fewer larger members in the 6” to 12” range. The exposed framing becomes integral to the beauty of the structure. The higher cost of timber framing can offset the need for elaborate interior embellishments of trim. For modest additional cost, the framing can be upgraded from pine to finished grades of douglas fir and other attractive types of wood.

Reduced use of Wood: While larger members are used, they are more widely spaced than traditional framing, reducing wood used by about 20%. In addition, the large “natural timbers” can be replaced with glue-laminated timber frames.

Insulating: While timber framing is ideally suited to un-insulated utility buildings, for houses, insulation needs to be approached differently, if the timber framing is to remain visible. Rigid insulation can be applied on the exterior preserving the timber frame on the interior.