Reusing timber

Reusing timber

Date Published

16 August 2022

Document Type



Timber is a valuable resource that, in recent years, is being used more efficiently, with increasingly little waste being produced throughout the supply chain.

Demolition waste contains a wide range of materials that may span back several decades or even centuries. Some materials may be appropriate for direct re-use or for recycling, but others may be treated with chemicals of uncertain origin. For the latter, options are generally limited to combustion for heat or electricity production. However, heavily contaminated wood, which has been treated with chemicals that have now been withdrawn from the market due to safety concerns, may require specialist disposal.

Key Information

There has been a significant reduction in timber waste, but more can be done.

Where wood cannot be reused, it should be recycled.

Decaying wood releases carbon so replacement planting is needed to reabsorb the excess.

Case studies

Zaha Hadid Architects has designed a new building for St Antony’s College, Oxford, a beautifully crafted structure with a sinuous, shimmering stainless steel façade, positioned with great care alongside its period neighbours.

The Healthcare Innovation Exchange (HELIX) Centre is a new building with a radical concept; to explore how designers might work together with clinical practitioners in an acute general hospital to improve healthcare.