Homes with a natural finish

Homes with a natural finish

ALTHOUGH it is one of the world's oldest building materials, wood has not always been the favoured choice for construction purposes because of perceptions that it is a fire hazard and structurally weaker than, say, concrete or steel.

Today, however, it is staging a revival, and even undergoing a "true renaissance", says Michael Snow, executive director of the American Hardwood Export Council. It is becoming the "raw material of choice" among architects and designers the world over, including in South-east Asia.

He says: "There are several reasons for this, including the nearly endless variety of textures, colours and species that add to the designers' palette, but I believe a key reason is a growing understanding of wood's unmatched environmental credentials."

In Singapore, the trend of using wood is also catching on with residential landed property owners.

One of the reasons for this, says Robin Tan, principal architect of Wallflower Architecture & Design, lies with the country's concrete landscape, which has made Singaporeans more appreciative of green, natural spaces. He says: "In the kampong days, people didn't really demand parks. As the urban environment gets tighter, you need more green space. It's a reaction to these developments."

Beam Ker, director of interior design and architecture firm Luxur Living, confirms this: "Singapore is a very concrete city and many of my clients choose timber because it makes them feel closer to nature."

For some home owners, the material offers a therapeutic benefit. "Wood is a very expressive material and many find that it creates a nice, relaxed ambience. When they return after a hard day's work, they find that it helps improve their mood," Ms Ker says.

For others, the appeal of using timber lies in its very nature: no two pieces of it are identical, and it has a beauty that cannot be replicated by man-made materials.

Yong Ai Loon, founder of architecture consultancy firm Timur Designs, says timber products cannot achieve the perfection that comes with machine-produced items and although some see this as a limitation, it is this natural aspect of imperfection that gives timber its beauty. "It speaks of craftsmanship rather than 'factory production'," she adds.

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