As he says: “Intuition doesn’t lie, and the human body doesn’t lie either. Why, then, do I feel so great in the old, wooden house, whereas in a modern building my eyes tear up and my throat becomes scratchy?”. There must be a way to prove the positive impact of wood on people by using academic and scientific methods.
After about 20 years of fighting against the stereotypes of prejudice and discrediting attempts from wood and chemical industries, Dr. Thoma succeeded - as he says - in accomplishing technically everything. However, throughout the 20 years, he failed to scientifically explain and prove the positive impacts of wood on the wellbeing of people.
In 2012, Dr. Thoma's company built an energy self-efficient 5-floor commercial wooden building in Hamburg. This is ArcheNEO in Oberndorf, Tirol. A 6,600 square meter office complex, in which tenants’ leases state that they will not have to pay even a penny for heating throughout the year. The whole complex is built out of wood and not a trace of chemicals were used. Its temperature is regulated by heat pumps powered by photovoltaic batteries located on the roof.
This is the Haramura church near Fukushima in Japan which withstood a well-known earthquake for its destruction. Moreover, it is capable of surviving typhoons of up to 200 km per hour. One should know that for concrete, it is irreversibly damaged once it passes breaking point. Wood, on the other hand, flexes, shifts into the elastic phase, and then returns to its original form.
For this purpose, a research project was created, which involved the best BMW specialists in engine thermodynamics. It turned out that wood has two completely unique thermodynamic properties. 1 kg of wood accumulates 2.5 times as much heat as 1 kilogram of stone, and the time required to change its temperature is much longer than any other natural, raw material.
In the summer, the facade warms up to an average temperature of twenty degrees Celsius from the outside and only a small, solar-powered air conditioner is at work. To obtain such a result, the building has been modeled after a red ant forest anthill. The larval hatching chamber at the center of the mound is exceptionally resistant to variations in outdoor temperatures.
This is the Austrian, state-of-the-art film archive, which houses 70,000 historical nitro-film reels. Fumes from the film erode rebars in reinforced concrete and therefore wood becomes most suitable for this purpose. This archive requires no external sources of electricity, and the constantly monitored temperature is at 3 degrees Celsius throughout the year as fluctuations are unacceptable in this case.
This seven-floor hotel is built completely out of Holz100 – 100% pure wood. It proves day by day the incredible static strength of this natural, raw material. More so, there is even a huge swimming pool located on the seventh floor which boasts a open-air panoramic view of surrounding mountains. Starting from the day that its foundation was laid, the time that it took to officially open its doors only took 2 months.
Acoustic insulation is very important in the construction of hotels. The NaturHotel Waldklause Hotel built by Dr. Thoma is the quietest hotel in the world - the sound insulation values of the wooden walls between rooms reached 63 dB! This means that you can play drums in one room while those in the next room won’t be able to hear a thing.
It has also been found that wood is best suited for the construction of rooms with the highest level of surveillance protection required as well. Thanks to this finding, Dr. Thoma's company has received a number of orders to build various structures for the German army.
Solid wood is not only the safest material when it comes to fire, flood or earthquakes, but it also protects its inhabitants from all kinds of harmful, high frequency electromagnetic waves. It completely stops, for example, mobile phone frequencies. This has been confirmed by research conducted by the Bundeswehr University in Munich.
They warm up and act as a short-lived heat accumulator, while the high natural heat insulation properties of the wooden walls act as long-lasting heat storage. The house does not have any heating or ventilation, and its air quality and temperature are constantly monitored as part of the research project. Its indoor temperature in winter has never dropped below 18° C.
Therefore he erected a five-floor house in the Bernese Oberland in the Matterhorn area of the Alps, which retains such an optimized facade with an intelligent arrangement of glass elements that during the day the sun falls through large windows on the so-called “sun traps” in the form of black stone floors.
It is a structure so complex that the inner surface of one cubic centimeter of wood consists of 150 to 200 square meters in surface area. Not only is this excellent structure the best natural heat insulator, but it also accumulates and stores heat well.
It is hard to imagine, but the dense, hard timber that you can crack your head against is nothing but transformed air. Trees draw carbon dioxide from the air, returns oxygen, and uses carbon to build the most incredible structure that mankind refers to as wood. It only utilizes water and a small amount of minerals from the earth for this purpose.
However, Mr. Thoma’s house withstood the highest level of seismic shocks that could be simulated. The structure of the house had to be weakened by removing some of the connecting pegs for the house to fall apart, so that the certificate could be issued. The certificate received was of the highest safety class that can be obtained in Japan.
Japan has at its disposal the largest platform for simulating seismic shocks which was where Dr. Thoma’s employees built a Holz100 house for testing. Dr. Thoma could not be present for testing, and he was very surprised when his employee called him to say that they failed to get certified. The certificate is only issued when the tested house falls apart. It is then that the seismic level at which the construction fails is determined.
At this time, entering the Japanese market for building materials was considered virtually impossible even for large corporations, let alone such a small company like Dr. Thoma's. To build houses in Japan, however, one needed to obtain the most restrictive certificate for earthquake resistance.
However, two weeks later a Japanese publisher called to inform Dr. Thoma that he received publication orders for a Japanese translation of Dr. Thoma’s book. Following his publications in Japan, Dr. Thoma started receiving orders for Holz100 from Japan.
Since Dr. Thoma’s technology does not harm the environment and does not leave waste throughout its entire life cycle, it certainly aligns with their principles. At the end, the monk promised his support. Dr. Thoma said goodbye, but questioned how they would be able to support him all the way from Japan and did not expect to hear back from them.
As it turned out, those buildings had also been built from moonwood. The head of the monastery wanted to become acquainted with Dr. Thoma's technology, because one of his student had left him with Dr. Thoma's book. After observing everything, the monks left with a word that Dr. Thoma is turning the wheels of something great, because Buddhists believed that one should live in such a way which does as not leave any traces behind.
Moonwood harvesting was not only utilized in ancient Rome. After the first book was published, Dr. Thoma was unexpectedly visited by a delegation from Japan, led by the highest monk of the Japanese Buddhist monastery Hōryū-ji. The monastery is home to the world's oldest wooden buildings, erected in 607 AD.
Only some of its surface will be charred as a result. When the source of fire disappears, the trunk stops burning as well. For wood to burn well, it must be cut into small pieces and surrounded by air. Today, Dr. Thoma's firm builds certified firewalls made of wood for industrial needs.
The same treatment of a reinforced concrete wall would have caused the temperature on the opposing side rise to 600° even after 20-30 minutes and everything would start to burn. Because of the heat, the concrete begins to crack in layers and release the rebar rods which then melt. It may seem unbelievable, but even a thick tree trunk thrown into the fire will often remain unburned, while the fire eventually fades and dies out.
After 122 minutes, there was a strange sound. It turned out that the tank ran out of oil. Following this incident, the institute carried out the test at its own expense and in the end, Dr. Thoma received a F180 certificate. It turned out that after three hours of treating a Holz100 wall with a 1000 ° flame, the temperature on its other side rose only by 1.8° C.