US Architect Gordon R. Pierce Foreword: ‘A Future with Natural Wood’

Wow. Definition:

Exclamation: expressing astonishment or admiration

Noun: a sensational success

Verb: to impress and excite (someone) greatly

This informal word best expresses the reaction I share with all those who understand and appreciate the significance of Erwin Thoma’s creation – Holz 100. In this, the first of his books translated into English, you will find interesting and amusing stories that reveal Erwin’s wealth of knowledge regarding trees, forests and wood. Perhaps, for some readers, this book will contain more information than they imagined possible for such subjects. For others, this will be a welcome introduction to wood-related subjects and an inspiration for a future using natural timber. ”Written in a colloquial style, it offers an insight into his humble genius.

For any advocate of environmentalism, this book should not only help clear up those myths regarding the use of wood as a building material but also reinforce the fact that this totally sustainable, natural resource, when used responsibly, is the best alternative to all other construction materials.

As an architect, I wish to highlight one aspect of this book that explains the remarkable building system invented and manufactured by Erwin that has won numerous awards and a loyal following in Europe.

I met Erwin for the first time about ten years ago. I heard about his company that manufactured a structural building system using 100% wood. It was advertised to have no glues, toxic chemicals, resins or mechanical fasteners. It was so well engineered that one could build multi-story buildings out of it or construct a single-family house in only days, not months.

A Future with Natural Wood

A Future with Natural Wood

Then I began to learn about the rest of the “wow:” the thermal mass of the product providing comfort to the occupants while greatly reducing energy costs; persons with allergies could live in these buildings without suffering from hidden toxins or allergens; sound attenuation was remarkable; hotels and spas built from this material were receiving rave reviews from guests who slept better, were more relaxed and enjoyed the smell of the forest unique to Holz 100 buildings. Finally, I learned that the manufacturing process was equally astonishing in that it recycles its waste wood in special clean-burn furnaces that, with supplemental solar panels, create more than enough electricity and heat to operate the facility.

So here I was introduced to a major structural building system based on ancient construction techniques, using state-of-the-art technology, and with a totally sustainable source of material as its basic ingredient – produced “off the grid” no less. This is truly the ultimate “cradle to cradle” product.

I expect to see this wonderful system produced in the United States in the coming years as its unique qualities – described thoughtfully and passionately in these pages – comes to the attention of builders, developers, architects and homeowners looking for the ultimate green building material.

Gordon R. Pierce
US Architect