By Azman Zainal
Timber gets more beautiful with age. This is one of the greatest rewards when recycling timber material for construction. Even more so when we recycle from historical buildings because they are usually constructed with mature, durable timber in large sizes. The old government buildings, houses and shops built in the early 20th century often used quality timber from the best species. When dismantled, at first, they may appear battered and unappealing, but once some 10 millimetres of the weathered surfaces are removed, fresh smelling and attractive timber will appear.
Old timber may look dry due to aging, but the inner layers with its high density usually traps moisture. The material will not dry or shrink too easily unless it is cut into smaller sections like studs or boarding. Therefore, despite decades of service and long periods of storage at a junkyard, timber is often still usable.
Azman Zainal is the founder and principal architect of Das Azman Architect Sdn Bhd. The firm has within it a diverse range of expertise ranging from educational institutions, rehabilitation and restoration for historic buildings to office, commercial and residential buildings. Successful projects include the restoration of Masjid Jamek Kuala Lumpur, the construction of AAZ Timber Retreat Home and New Puncak Perdana Secondary School. Azman obtained his degree in architecture from Deakin University, Australia, and is a current member of the Board of Architects, Malaysia.