Wood and grass: The need for sustainability

Wood and grass: The need for sustainability

6 April, 2016

The fashion of ecological houses emerged relatively a few years ago with the need for sustainability, along with them came the arrival of a social conscience towards sustainability derived from the already visible consequences of climate change. However, in Iceland, the houses have existed since the nineteenth century. Known as grass houses, these originated in...

The fashion of ecological houses emerged relatively a few years ago with the need for sustainability, along with them came the arrival of a social conscience towards sustainability derived from the already visible consequences of climate change. However, in Iceland, the houses have existed since the nineteenth century. Known as grass houses, these originated in northern Europe around the ninth century, however, it is in Iceland where more use is based on functionality. Using these homes (especially among the lower classes) in Europe was due to the low cost and the ease of finding building materials, although in Iceland the houses were used for both higher classes and for farmers, since they were a more effective wayof combating temperatures which reached 50 degrees below freezing.

Houses were made with the walls and roof covered in lawn, while the frames and facades of the house were made of wood. Some homes had stone walls in order to help maintain heat and sustain the home. At that time, wood was widely used on the island and this was achieved thanks to the woods gathered on the shorefrom shipwrecks and remains left around by sea to the coast. This wood was used only for the structure and any wood which was found by easy access in the area was of bad construction quality, and so was disgarded for building use.
Wood and grass houses

The functionality of sod houses lay in the use of land as the best natural insulator keeping the temperature inside the stable home. In turn , the use of stones in the walls made them retain heat during the day and thus detach slowly overnight . This thermal insulation was also used by the lawn to help keep the inside of the house habitable and protected from the Icelandic cold in winter.

This is a clear example of sustainable building materials in the environment, which prevent any energy consumption and where the materials are already provided by the land itself, serving as a natural cooling system and avoiding the transport of materials.

Wood and grass houses

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