Judd Fellow Explores Different Ways to Improve Wood Durability

Pratihba Chauhan

Due to the decrease in availability of conventionally used construction wood, stricter government regulations, and increased demand for sustainable building materials, there has been a recent surge of interest in finding alternative ways of using low durability wood species for construction. 

For 2017 Judd Fellow Pratibha Chauhan (Architecture), this begged the question, what can be done to enhance the durability of wood and preserve the architectural wisdom embedded within this traditional building material?

Chauhan partnered with Jacob Mans (Architecture) and Perkins+Will to explore the various ways wood could be modified to improve its durability and increase its use in modern construction. “As someone from a culture where wood has been used as primary building material for centuries, this project held personal significance for me. This research allowed me to build an in-depth understanding of wood modification processes that can be used to enhance the durability of wood species not only in Minnesota but globally,” explained Chauhan.

Unlike in the U.S., where there is a limited number of manufacturers available to create modified wood, it is not uncommon for wood to still be used as a building material in Europe. After completing her research internship at Perkins+Will, Chauhan traveled to Finland to explore the way wood modifications used there might be applied to the local wood industry in Minnesota. “Within Europe, Finland has played a leading role in advancing wood as a material which made it a natural choice for me when considering a location for my Judd fellowship.”

The result of all of her research is a decision matrix that designers can use when trying to select a modified wood for construction. “On a broad scale, I hope that research of this nature can help advance the discourse around finding innovative technologies and alternatives to continue using traditional building materials in an environmentally responsible way,” Chauhan concluded.

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