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First All-Icelandic Timber Building Green Lighted

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First All-Icelandic Timber Building Green Lighted

An Icelandic forest.

Library picture, not the trees in question. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Eymundur Magnússon, farmer at Vallanes in Fljótsdalshérað, East Iceland is going to build a good-old-fashioned Icelandic timber house, which will be the first one ever to be built entirely from Icelandic trees. He had to have the timber specially inspected before a building permit was granted for the 50 square meter building intended as a small restaurant.

A home-grown poplar wood sign already welcomes visitors to Vallanes, where farmers try to be largely self-sustaining—including recently cladding their guesthouse with poplar wood from their forest.

Knowing they had good thick trees, and having successfully worked with them to create the sign and clad the guesthouse, Eymundur says the question soon arose: could they build an entire house with it?

RÚV reports that the 50 square meter dining and reception building will now be built from all-Icelandic timber—most of it from the poplar trees planted at Vallanes 29 years ago.

The timber was sawn and seasoned by the national forestry association at Hallormsstaðir, and then needed to be tested to check it would be safe to bear the weight of a whole house. That is happening now at the Innovation Center in Egilsstaðir.

It is the first time that Icelandic timber has ever been officially certified as structural timber. “It’s going to be an historic house,” says carpenter Eiríkur Þorsteinsson—adding that hopefully people will realize it is possible to use Icelandic poplar and that it may become a trend.

It is, however, important to grow the trees in a certain way involving careful trimming so that the timber will be of a high enough quality to build with. Left to grow wild, the timber is useful for little more than matches—but people may want to start looking at the poplar in a different light, Eymundur says.

The new building should be ready for next summer.

A small number of other houses have been built or renovated with Icelandic timber, but always with imported structural beams.

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