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  • The Expressive Capacity of the Timber Frame

    Brit Andresen

    Chapter from the book: Architecture Schools in Australasia, A. 2007. Association of Architecture Schools in Australasia.


    Assembling for the first time a braced, timber frame as a freestanding structure, where no piece could be taken away without collapsing it, was surely a ‘eureka’ moment in architecture. The expressive potential of the timber frame can be argued to have led both to its development as well as to its later transfer and transformation. 

    It is the intention of this paper to present the braced frame of the medieval stave-church as the opportunity for expressing Christian ‘church-like’ qualities in pagan Norway – a part transformation in timber-rich Norway from the established practise of constructing stone churches in the south. 

    Six centuries later ecclesiologists sought medieval examples for the construction of wooden churches in colonial diocese - such as those in Canada and New Zealand where timber was plentiful. Several mid-C19th publications, such as The Reverend William Scott’s paper “On Wooden Churches”, raised awareness among ecclesiologists of the potential of medieval Scandinavian examples to contribute to the transformation of the wooden church in the colonies by transferring ‘church-like’ qualities to the utilitarian ‘god box’. 

    The C19th wooden churches by R.G. Suter in Queensland are innovative examples of an ecclesiastical architecture in timber that takes advantage of the expressive potential of exposing the frame and the use of ‘outside studding’. 

    There are direct transfers of these earlier techniques and technologies through the use of ‘outside studding’ and the exposed timber frame in the work of Andresen O’Gorman Architects. In this contemporary architectural practice techniques and technologies are transferred as much for the frame’s expressive potential as for the pragmatic use of a renewable resource. Mooloomba House will be used as an example to identify conceptual ideas expressed through the timber frame rather than an explanation of the architectural project as a whole.

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    Andresen, B. 2007. The Expressive Capacity of the Timber Frame. In: Architecture Schools in Australasia, A (ed.), Association of Architecture Schools in Australasia. Sydney: UTS ePRESS. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5130/aab.aa

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on Sept. 27, 2007


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