Timber: materialization and abstraction

Sandra Costa Santos

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In The Origin of the Work of Art, Martin Heidegger explores the conception of ‘things’ as formed matter: if we appeal to use, function or purpose, form is prior to matter, since matter (-mater) wouldn’t be distributed in such manner where this not because of the form. If we elaborate this idea of “determination” or intention, the determinative character of the form is bound up with the purpose of the component made with a particular material, because material is something to be shaped according to intention. In the other hand, a second etymological meaning through the root –mater presents material as an agent of development: it spurs on processes than can be seen as extensions of the substance of matter, instigating perceptual possibilities, acting: absorbing, smelling, degenerating… Instead of the idea of determination, we are elaborating now the idea of “understanding”. Triggered by this discussion on materiality and within the scope of timber as an architectural material, the following question is yet to be answered: is there an ideal form of the material, a form that gets closer than any other to that which timber should be? This work looks at the processes that have shaped and shape timber as a material in order to analyze if it can be released from culturally expected formal notions and respond to applications which extend its material history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-12
JournalThe International Journal of the Constructed Environment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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