Materials – Wood

Ramin wood: Impactful and economic

The wood used to clad the interior staircase is known as Ramin. The architect’s choice was a tactical one as this particular kind of wood is really cheap yet it manages to present itself excellently. With a clear cut and ocherish colour, it gives shape to the spiral leading you upstairs. Panels of it are placed vertically next to each other similarly to a fence.



Name: Ramin

Scientific Name: Gonystylus spp.

Family: Gonystylaceae

Tree Size: 24m(80ft) tall, 0.6~1m(50~60ft) trunk diameter



Geographical Location

This particular type of wood originates and grows in whole erea of Malaysia and Southeast Asia as shown in the above map.



The heartwood of Ramin has a cream/yellow ocher colour. It can be found to exist in straight fine grain or interlocked grain. It usually isn’t recognisable due to a specific characteristic and the texture of this wood is smooth once cut, hence easily malleable. The thickness of sapwood, the inside of the bark, can arrive to be up to 5cm(2inches) in width and is hard to distiguish from heartwood.



Diagram 2 – Characteristics of Ramin Wood

The weight of Ramin is 640~720kg/m³(40~45lb/ft³) in dry condition. It is essential to weather this particular type of wood in dry conditions to avoid its shrinking and this can be obtained through an artificial wood seasoning. Nevertheless, weathered Ramin has to be processed with wood chemicals immediately in order to prevent the possibility of its discolouration. The peculiarity of the Ramin, which has a high density, is that it can endure high compressions without bending thanks to its resistance and stiffness (look above diagram). However, the Ramin, cannot be processed with steam treatment as the latter bending stiffness makes it impossible to curve the material into the desired shape. However, it is easy to be manufactured through the use of hand tools and wood working machinery. The Ramin has to take pre-perforation for nailing and it can varnished/coloured before it is placed on site. The heartwood of the Ramin has no durability and the sap wood of the Ramin is an easy target for powderpost beetles, but its maintenance is relatively easy.



The Ramin is used as a substitute of beech (Fagus) in architecture. It can be found in interiors such as shops and office and can be used for furniture, picture frames, mouldings and wood toys. It is also used for sculpture and wood manufacture: wood knob, wooden nail and wooden floor boards. In case of upper solid wood, it is utilised for ply wood and veneer renderings by cutting it with a Rotary Lathe.



Aidan Walker et al (2006) The Encyclopedia of Wood, page 104

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