Timber Frame History

Timber Frame History

683px-Zimmermann_1880Timber frame construction emerged in central Europe in the early middle ages. Findings show, however, that this type of construction dates back to 10,000 to 6,000 B.C. Those predecessors of our present-day timber frame buildings were simple huts and post-frame buildings. Posts of a supporting wooden skeleton were embedded in the ground. Later, other methods were developed and the poles not buried directly in the ground but placed on rocks or a similar type of base to prevent decay. As a result stronger support was needed to prevent the walls from tilting.

This is where the actual history of timber frame construction begins. The structures had to be secured in a number of ways. Diagonal wooden beams (braces) and horizontal crossbeams were inserted inside the walls. Those two elements alone are able to absorb lateral forces and secure the wall structurally. However, securing the posts in the ground remained a problem for a long time.

It was not until the 15th century that it became usual practice to place the posts on sole pieces that were protected from moisture by a foundation. With this type of construction the development of the timber frame was almost completed. Further changes concerned primarily design or decorative elements.

Between 1450 and 1550, towards the end of the Gothic period until the beginning of the Renaissance timber frame construction was developed further and the constructional possibilities were enhanced. During the Gothic period timber frame houses were not decorated and served only residential purposes. During the Renaissance truly magnificent buildings surpassed each other in beauty and architecture. The privately owned home represented the owner’s wealth.