Wood Niido integrates smart design with a sustainable practice that transforms the perception of wood.
Why is wood construction better than concrete construction in India? Are these timber houses environmentally friendly and technologically advanced?
Well, I want to start the interview by welcoming you to our base. We appreciate moments when we feel recognized for our service and try to make the most of stages like this to spread our mission across the community. We are a team of architects, engineers, construction experts, and management with a manufacturing unit based in Chennai, and our mission with this organization is to build a beautiful world using wood as the primary material for construction. We’re looking forward to collaborating with good architects and executing premium wooden homes and structures. It’s not really a question of which is better-wood construction or concrete construction-no. It’s about the story of the project. What is the intention of a design? It’s to narrate a story within an enclosed space using materials as the language to communicate with the users; that’s what we believe in, and that’s what we intend to execute: a design narrative that is not interested in brutal realism, but a collaboration of materials to give a premium experience to the residents.
Wood is not a contemporary element in the construction of eco-friendly homes, but it has been the most traditional element in all of history. In changing times, when our world is at the peak of globalization, people have started moving towards the old in search of peace and inner happiness, which emanates when we are close to nature.
So, since you’ve asked me this question, here are some of the major advantages of wood over traditional homes (in our opinion)-just to list you a few:
-One, wood is naturally sourced without going through any mechanical processes, so it is an eco-friendly choice of living.
-Two, constructing a wooden home takes 50–60% less construction time when compared to traditional brick and mortar homes.
-Even though the construction cost is slightly high, the maintenance or the overall living cost of wooden homes is marginally less because of wood’s natural thermal efficiency, which brings down the energy consumption.
-The prefabricated wooden homes are easy to alter or renovate compared to the traditional ones.
We really believe wooden homes make us feel close to nature and provide a wonderful traditional ambiance that can heal and relax from the core.
Wood is making a resurgence in modern architecture, and it has the endorsement of some of the world's top architects. Isn't it past time for architects and real estate developers to differentiate themselves by selling wooden houses?
Yes, and no. I think it’s a wonderful idea to start selling wooden houses to architects and real estate developers, but at the same time, one must also be open to other materials too, depending on the design language. Wood as a material is well received among architects, design journalists, and builders. Of course, we saw an opportunity to start using wood as our primary construction technique, and that’s for a good reason-to have a sense of versatility while designing homes. You have no idea the kinds of things and design details we can achieve with wood.
The demand for home improvement products has surged. What kind of development have you seen in product trends?
Yes, of course, it has, and we have had a lot of clients who were looking to renovate or add a feature to their already existing home. Like we said before, it is very easy to alter or renovate a wooden home. Likewise, wood's being a lighter material doesn't affect structural stability, and it can also be used in all types of construction.
The versatility of wood as a material of construction is the key factor in determining where and how we make use of this amazing lumber.
Externally, products like patios, decks, gazebos, and pergolas are mostly in style now. But we were surprised with the number of inquiries about adding an extra room on the terrace, and we were involved in an interesting project where the whole new floor with a pitched roof was added to an existing concrete structure with a flat roof.
Internally, features like adding a loft (or) mezzanine floor are opted by a lot of people, and with the increase in WFH (work from home) culture, people are looking to set up home offices too. Productivity starts with a good mood and mindset. A relaxed mind is the best place to process ideas and inspiration. Adding a sauna room amidst wooden cladding or a jacuzzi thrown between wooden decks are pretty interesting projects to work on, both for us as well as the customers.
What are your intentions for expansion and where do you foresee the potential for future growth?
We see the market for sustainable construction growing rapidly in India, and people are acting more consciously towards a greener future. We want to fit right in where we can combine our thoughtful design with a sustainable practise that changes the way wood is portrayed.
• We foresee the potential of our type of construction in the hilly areas where our wall system performs extraordinarily well compared to other types of generic construction. Our wall system has one of the top-notch characteristics in the market when it comes to thermal performance. It acts as a barrier by retaining the indoor temperature and not letting the outdoor temperature penetrate easily. It also acts as a moisture barrier, which is a common problem in cold or hilly regions. And also, wood is considered a temporary structure, so it can even be constructed in remote and reserved forest areas.
• Another potential area of expansion we believe can happen along with the coastal areas is the CRZ rules, which allow wooden structures to be constructed closer to the beach shore. And since wood as a material doesn't react with the salty air, which is the main concern for most homeowners in coastal areas, we are in a perfect place to help with the solutions so that we can build selfsustaining structures.
Take Florida, for example, and how the entire coastal settlement language changed after the introduction of special development rules. We can do the same thing on the coasts of the Indian subcontinent too.
Our main target market is the coastal and hilly regions, even though we do accommodate remote and add-on projects too.
What are your thoughts on technological advancement and innovation in the wood construction industry? The use of digital manufacturing and computational design methodologies has made it easier to create wooden architecture.
Yes, it has made a huge difference. We think it has come a long way from designing software tools to manufacturing technological advancements that have played a major role in achieving efficiency and solving structural problems. When integrating software tools with factory manufacturing machinery, the scope for mistakes is drastically reduced.
According to you, what opportunities and challenges do you foresee in the wood construction industry?
As far as the wood construction industry in India is concerned, we see a huge gap that can be filled in. The only other main challenge we believe in is educating people about wooden construction and its application in commercial and residential buildings. Awareness is key.
You know, there’s a Canadian architect, Michael Green, who has designed and solved a way to construct the world’s tallest building using wood as the core material. Versatility, remember?
What is the current rate of wooden house penetration in India? When do you think wooden houses will become the norm in India?
To give an honest answer, we feel it is really weak as it is quite a challenge to break the beliefs of people over general construction ideas, but I am sure there will be a change to better and healthier living, and we’re motivated to work on a mission to bring positive changes into the world.
Integrating wood into the urban living space even more requires less stringent building requirements. In some of the major European countries, architects and engineers have already been able to build multi-story wooden structures up to the high-rise limit without additional requirements since 2015. It remains to be seen how the natural material will change the urban landscape in and around the world. Policy and society will play a crucial role here. Let’s wait and watch. We are happy to be placed where we are right now, and are looking forward to bringing awareness and scaling our zones effectively.
What is the current state of sustainable architecture in terms of efficiency and practicality?
In terms of efficiency, there has been a lot of advancement in modern construction techniques compared to traditional ones. Efficiency is attained by reducing the use of basic utilities, and we believe modern construction techniques focus on that.
And yes, it is very practical, and we believe it should be made a norm by our governing body to follow sustainability. It is good to see the rise of self-sustaining structures, which are achieved through conscious design thought experiments.
What are the current market sectors and regions that you serve? In the future, what more segments and regions would you like to explore?
Current market sectors: construction. We are a construction company.
We serve the Indian subcontinent right now, mostly the coasts and islands, where most of them are commercial spaces. But our major target in the next few years is also to bring our ideas into residential spaces.
What we want to explore: architecture and design, real estate in the residential segment, the import and export of good quality wood from and to several countries.
What are you expecting from INDIAWOOD 2022?
We expect it to create awareness and debunk the myths that are stopping people from opting for wood as a construction material in India. Rightly educate people on how good construction practises have proven to be way more effective than they expected them to be. Wood as a material is a beautiful gift given to us by nature.
There is nothing like it when it comes to harvesting, treating, and transporting when done consciously.