Wood is distinguished from other building materials such as steel, concrete and stone by an optimal proportion of strength to own weight. The lower mass of wooden houses during an earthquake generates lower inertia force. During earthquakes, apart from the vertical earthquake accelerations and surface cracks, it’s the horizontal accelerations that cause the greatest threat to the building. Wood has tubular cells that create cavities and optimize the elasto-mechanical properties. In consequence, wood has a high level of compressive and tensile strength. The earthquake resistance of wooden constructions is demonstrated by many buildings in seismically active regions: for example, centuries-old wooden houses in Istanbul, timber objects in Japan and multi-storey apartment buildings in Seattle.
Another advantage of timber construction is the high degree of prefabrication of individual components such as walls and ceilings. This allows fast and highly economical construction. Due to its structural and economic advantages wood is an excellent material for reconstruction in crisis regions - not just for houses.
A recent example of this is the successful reconstruction with timber in the earthquake area in , Italy. After the severe earthquake around L'Aquila in April 2009, with the help of solid wood construction a number of new residential units was established for the suffering population in a short time.