Building High with Beech
On constructions sites in Germany, wood is becoming a popular building material yet again, wind turbines, parking garages, and skyscrapers included. However, it is not just any kind of wood that we are talking about, rather, it’s the highly rated Thüringer beech wood. In ages past, beech wood was used as a means to predict the weather. If one cut off the branch of the beech tree in the month of November, and the stump remained dry, it would indicate the approach of a harsh winter. Today, the demand for this deciduous tree species has grown significantly high. From this wood, the Creuzburg-based company Pollmeier has developed plywood known as “beech building wood”. In order to produce this plywood, the trunk of the tree is peeled and glued in layers, one above the other. According to an article in The Spiegel, beech building wood is characterized by its flexural strength, which is ideal for the construction of wind turbines. What sets it apart from other forms of building materials is that it is considerably lighter than steel, and can withstand extreme weather conditions, especially wind. In addition, structures built out of wood can easily be assembled on site. Thus, higher wind power plants can be built, as compared to conventional wind turbines built with concrete components.
Beech Wood: Similar in Strength to Steel
In an interview with The Spiegel, company owner Ralf Pollmeier describes beech wood as being “elegant as opposed to bulky and rustic. Architectures will really like it”. Studies carried out by The Spiegel support this statement; beech wood as a building material is making a comeback indeed. Manfred Hegger, Professor of Architecture at the Technical University Darmstadt, commented that, “when you incorporate wood intelligently into one’s designs, it can take over the same structural function of reinforced concrete”. Additionally, this material has a calming, yet strong visual effect as opposed to reinforced concrete.