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Über dieses Buch

This book explores various digital representation strategies that could change the future of wooden architectures by blending tradition and innovation. Composed of 61 chapters, written by 153 authors hailing from 5 continents, 24 countries and 69 research centers, it addresses advanced digital modeling, with a particular focus on solutions involving generative models and dynamic value, inherent to the relation between knowing how to draw and how to build. Thanks to the potential of computing, areas like parametric design and digital manufacturing are opening exciting new avenues for the future of construction. The book’s chapters are divided into five sections that connect digital wood design to integrated approaches and generative design; to model synthesis and morphological comprehension; to lessons learned from nature and material explorations; to constructive wisdom and implementation-related challenges; and to parametric transfigurations and morphological optimizations.



Integrated Approach and Generative Design


WOOD, CAD AND AI: Digital Modelling as Place of Convergence of Natural and Artificial Intelligent to Design Timber Architecture

The contemporary development and digital culture in architecture, from the idea to the realization, lead to a rewriting of the coordinates of the deep relation between model and pre-figuration, especially in the timber structure field. Artificial intelligence opened new potentialities that rewrite the project paths through the evaluation of computational design, with a model set as the place of simulation and experimentation, in order to locate solutions for more and more high requests made by architecture. Wood’s natural intelligence inspires artificial intelligence’s principles, and it is projected as the new frontier of the research, in its possibility of defying optimized solutions also in function of multiples objectives and parameters. Wooden architecture design correlated to a history of tradition, which is established on descriptive geometry, finds today multiple application fields for the research. In this sense, representation supports the knowledge and the innovation, able to continue and express its operative aspect full of culture and, at the same time, its tecné sense, which etymologically it is meant as art and technique. The present chapter shows different ways to apply the contemporary principle of descriptive geometry in digital wood design research, in a multidisciplinary and contaminated learning environment. In all the illustrated cases, the generative design has a central role, in an integration addressed to the need of optimization of architectural form, using Genetic algorithms in order to analyze and to understand the relationship between form, geometry, and construction.

Fabio Bianconi, Marco Filippucci

Beyond Form Definition: Material Informed Digital Fabrication in Timber Construction

This paper introduces a series of prototypes investigating a new architectural language in wood that is driven by a critical approach to recent technical developments in design, fabrication and material. Although wood is slowly being recognized as an advanced material for future construction due to its high performance and sustainable nature, its differentiated and unpredictable material characteristics have not only been progressively overlooked, but even been viewed as a negative attribute. Wood’s varied dimensional range has been addressed through standardization, its heterogeneous fiber structure ground and reconstituted into homogeneous composites, and finally its complex aesthetic quality has even been caricaturized into a skin-deep plastic-wood veneer texture. This paper seeks to extend research on the implications of advanced robotic fabrication and its integration into design processes that also integrate cross-disciplinary knowledge into architectural software. As innovation in technology enables architects and engineers to engage with the complexities of the material, the potential of wood is becoming accessible, leading to a new material language. Through a series of full scale, robotically fabricated design prototypes, the material performance of wood is investigated as a driver for form; its fabrication and hygroscopic performance as a driver for assembly, and more importantly, the entire design-to-fabrication-process as a method for investigation into innovation and the structural and architectural potential of future wood.

David Correa, Oliver David Krieg, AnnaLisa Meyboom

New Workflows for Digital Timber

This chapter describes a research thread at CITA which explores how computation and a challenging of traditional material practice can impact the use of timber in architectural design and fabrication. Several past research projects at CITA have demonstrated the potential for streamlining the design-to-production process using computational tools, and the value of working in concert with the inherent properties of wood. Current research continues this thread through a participation in the Innochain research network ( ) and collaboration with industrial partners White Arkitekter AB and Blumer-Lehmann AG. Through the embedding of digital tools within established timber design a fabrication processes, new workflows are proposed which could lead to more intelligent design decisions, optimized building components, and new timber morphologies.

Tom Svilans, Martin Tamke, Mette Ramsgaard Thomsen, Jonas Runberger, Kai Strehlke, Martin Antemann

Negotiated Materialization: Design Approaches Integrating Wood Heterogeneity Through Advanced Robotic Fabrication

Whilst robots are predictable, repetitive, predefined and constant, natural materials present unpredictable complexity. Over the past few centuries, materials have been standardized to fit industrial processes, in an attempt to defy this unpredictability. Thanks to new advances in sensing technologies and computational design, today we have the opportunity to reintegrate the intrinsic properties of natural materials in their full complexity. What is the potential of a synthesis between the particularity of each specific material element—specific properties and parameters—informing the fabrication process? Digital and Robotic Fabrication are based on the use of flexible machines that open the possibility to mass-customize the production process. Combined with sensors and computational analysis, they allow to work with “soft systems”, both adaptable and continuously evolving, whose dynamism is constantly fed by a flow of information. How can the designer integrate this uncertainty and complexity in the design process? In this paper the authors specifically discuss the management of structural and material tolerance inherent to large scale construction and anisotropic materials, such as wood. A series of projects developed and built at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia and the Bartlett School of Architecture are used as case studies to investigate tolerance management in Digital Fabrication with different kinds of wood.

Giulio Brugnaro, Angelo Figliola, Alexandre Dubor

Advanced Timber Concepts and the Design of Furniture and Structures

Since 2006, the Advanced Timber Concepts Research Centre (ATC) has pursued the development of innovative approaches to designing with timber across a variety of scales. Through teaching-based research and applied research within a professional context, the research group has engaged in cutting-edge practice uniquely relevant to Australian timber culture, whilst engaging with digital wood design in a global context. Projects undertaken since 2006 include a ten-year project running an intensive furniture design course at the University that focused on re-imagining the role of low-value timber within fine-furniture making, employing traditional techniques along-side cutting edge digital fabrication and computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) processes. Concurrently, a pair of prototypical flat-pack timber houses emerging from teaching programmes were designed, developed, and built, alongside several other prototypical timber structures and assembly systems initiated within academic teaching and developed by the research centre and the professional studio—ATC Studio. These include a third prototype house, an experimental permanent large-span timber shell structure, a continuing five-installment advanced computational design and manufacturing design-and-build teaching program, and a currently under-construction sports hall and community centre. Through these projects, we have engaged with the use of timber as a vibrant material that possesses active properties that can be employed productively within the design process. Further, advanced digital processes such as computational design, simulation, analysis, form-finding, evolutionary solving, and CNC manufacturing, uncover the opportunity to explore the nature of the relationship between designer and material by way of the digital. We increasingly understand that the design of computational processes leads to a condition of ‘dual-authorship’, where the designer is both responsible for the process and the computed result. Add to that the active role of a natural material such as timber, and we now encounter a third author—the forest—which may begin to approach the achievement of a truly holistic, sustainable architecture that considers its environmental impacts in an active and performative manner from the outset.

Patrick Beale, Tristan Morgan

Lattice Shell Methodologies: Material Values, Digital Parameters

Lattice shells combine an elegance of form with the efficiency of structure driven by the material constraints of straight lath members that can be bent into shape. While formally expressive, the form is the result of an explicit methodology combining form-finding, material constraints, and construction logistics. As the boundary curve establishes the constraints of the system, it is the boundary curve, not the surface, which gives the designer discretion over form. From this boundary constraint, the form is developed through the forces applied in the form-finding process such as a vertical load vector (pushing) and/or surface relaxation (stretching or equalizing). Although these values can be adjusted by the designer, they are only meaningful when calibrated by material constraints. Through physical testing real-time material feedback can be embedded into the parametric system. In combination with form-finding, the use of geodesics constrains fits lath members to the compound curved shell such that it can be constructed from straight lath members. As an elegant response to how material can inform form, by integrating these processes into a parametric workflow, further attention can be applied to other design criteria including spatial development and environmental response while maintaining the elegance and structural economy of shell structures.

Mark Cabrinha, Dante Testolini, Ben Korman

Toward Mass Customized Architecture. Applying Principles of Mass Customization While Designing Site-Specific, Customer-Inclusive and Bespoke Timber Structures

Mass customization is established in many industries, but are not yet integrated in architecture and the building industry. This article presents a parametric timber toolkit under development. A flexible toolkit for parametrically designed timber structures, a toolkit that simplifies and substantiates a continuous digital workflow from global shape to digital fabrication and assembly—a toolkit that requires parametric thinking, not only parametric modelling skills. The toolkit proposes solutions to four recurrent workflow-related challenges that limit efficiency and quality while designing timber structures. A series of built case projects are used to exemplify and explain the toolkit. An important finding discussed in the end of the article is that parametric modelling, and partly the toolkit, changes our conception of what is considered a similar structure.

John Haddal Mork, Marcin Luczkowski, Bendik Manum, Anders Rønnquist

Reciprocal Implications Between Design and Construction Process of Timber Gridshell

This contribution focuses on the latest acquisitions of the research group on active-bent timber gridshells. In particular, the main topic is related to the development of a new information technology design tool (GFFT 2.0) developed by Davide Rando for his Master’s thesis in Architecture in January 2018 under the supervision of Sergio Pone and Daniele Lancia; this design tool is a new version of the previous one developed in 2012 by Daniele Lancia and Andrea Fiore for their Master’s Degree thesis called GFFT (Gridshell Form Finding Tool) (Pone et al. in Beyond the limits of man, Wroclaw, Poland, 2013). We will also describe the two latest projects to which we have committed ourselves since 2016 up to today. We will also illustrate how the creation of the new IT tool was based on previous experiences that have influenced subsequent projects (Pone 2017).

Sergio Pone, Daniele Lancia, Davide Rando

Reinterpretation of Traditional Wood Structures with Digital Design and Fabrication Technologies

While digital design and fabrication technology has strongly promoted the innovation of wooden architecture from different aspects, they have also provided us with a new perspective to re-examine traditional wood structures. In the digital wood researches of DDRC, Tongji University, traditional culture has often played an important role. Both the culture of Chinese traditional wood architecture and western structure systems have become the source of inspiration. This paper presents two research projects that reinterpret traditional wood structures through experimental construction of large scale prototypes. “REVERSE RAFTER” demonstrates the possibility of simulating and reinterpreting Chinese traditional wood tectonics with structural performance based-design and digital fabrication technology, while “DigitalFUTURE 2017 gridshell” showing an approach for extend gridshell system of the west into more complex application. By putting digital technologies under the context of wood culture, reinterpretation of traditional wood structures has the potential to continuously provide inspiration and resources for innovative wood architecture practice.

Philip F. Yuan, Hua Chai

Centrality of Representation As a Synthesis Model and Morphological Comprehension


Wood as an Essential Material in Architectural and Civil Engineering Models from the Renaissance to the Architectural Avant-Garde

The mock-ups, as important project instruments, have accompanied the work of the technician from ancient times. In this process, wood has always been an essential material due mainly to its abundance and properties, particularly its flexibility, strength and even some malleability. This work aims to provide an overview of the history of wooden models through some notable examples of the use of this material in architectural and engineering mock-ups, analysing their purpose from antiquity to the present day, as well as their role today as an alternative or complement to virtual models. Theme or topic: History of representation in wood design.

José Antonio Franco Taboada

The Wooden Models of the Vatican Basilica by Antonio da Sangallo and Michelangelo: Survey, Modelling and Interpretation

The role that models have played in the development of Renaissance architectural thought is well known but the massive usage of digital modelling and visualization tools often prevents us from fully appreciating their original role in the conception and communication of architecture. Nowadays infact, bits and pixels have almost completely replaced wood, chalk or plaster. However, either tangible (material) and intangible (digital) models still unquestionably represent an extremely effective design tool. More than drawings, in fact, they show a strong ability to crystalize in an immediate and evident form the architect’s idea. Under this perspective, material and digital models are not as distant form each other as it seems and actually live a sort of parallel life. They share in fact the modelling, namely that process of abstraction establishing a biunivocal correspondence between the object and its representation. This is why representations have been so important for the making of architecture: exploiting their being models, architects do use them to journey across space (and time occasionally) in order to understand the essence of architectural concepts, designs and even buildings. In this framework, this paper summarizes some results of the research developed by our group about Sangallo’s and Michelangelo’s maquettes for the New St. Peter’s Basilica that have been surveyed in 2005/2006 and investigated since then. Our objective is to provide an insight about the work and a discussion of some major issues encountered while experimenting the virtual modelling of those historic models.

Carlo Bianchini, Alfonso Ippolito, Luca J. Senatore

Representing with Wood: Carlo Lucangeli and the Model of the Flavian Amphitheatre

The wooden model of the Flavian Amphitheater built by Carlo Lucangeli between 1790 and 1812 is among the largest and most detailed ever made on the subject. Unlike the coeval models, normally made of cork and retracting the building to a state of ruin, the Lucangeli wooden Coliseum, divided into seventy distinct sections, is an interpretation of the ideal form of the monument, extremely detailed and expressive thanks to the use of different wood essences and accessory materials, such as metal and putty. This essay aims to illustrate the peculiarities of this model and to define the importance of the contribution of Carlo Lucangeli in the vast historical panorama of the representation of the monument.

Graziano Mario Valenti, Cinzia Conti, Jessica Romor

The Teatro of Bologna as a Transformable Space: Drawing, Geometry and Invention in the Study of the Wooden Model of the Theater by Antonio Galli Bibiena

The teatro of Bologna, designed by Antonio Galli Bibiena, was opened in 1763 in the town of Father Giovanni Maria Martini, a leading musician consulted also by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Farinelli, celebrated as one of the greatest singers in the history of opera. Bibiena proposed an innovative solution for the cavea shape, a multiple curved profile with a bell-shaped morphology. The paper describes the architectural features of the theater and its innovation starting from the survey of the wooden model exhibited at the Museo Internazionale della Musica and also the unique wooden mechanism under the parterre stalls that allows to transform and improve the functionality of the space.

Giuseppe Amoruso

Learning by Prototyping: Wood Design Course Experience

Since 2012, a new teaching and learning ethos has been embedded in the prototype design workshop at Politecnico di Milano. This is based on rediscovering the past design traditions in the light of the new present and future technologies. This education experience has been applied in the Wood Design course of the Design School, a teaching course inspired and with roots within the traditional Arts and Crafts academies, but also integrating new tools and skills for design/production of wood products. One of the key features of this course is that students are expected to express their own ideas through usable prototypes, making products and furniture with different styles but always with a high technical and finishing quality. This teaching approach can be associated with Bruno Munari’s motto, when he evokes Confucius saying “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” For these reasons MAKING is the backbone of this course. The focus of the chapter is around the great potential of this way of teaching, through direct constructive activities, to understand how such a practical approach about representation, design and knowledge transmission can become a solid basis education for future generations of designers.

Mariano Chernicoff

Parametric Kerf Bending: Manufacturing Double Curvature Surfaces for Wooden Furniture Design

Geometric understanding allows us to solve many problems in manufacturing complex surfaces and geometric rules can lead the project from theory to practice (Pottmann in Architectural geometry. Kindle edn, 2015). Digital fabrication technologies are evolving and becoming more and more widespread. Knowledge of fabrication methods available and parametric design tools, based on geometry, are changing the designer way to think. Advances in this field promote experimental use of new materials but also innovative use of traditional materials, such as wood. Our research in the field of non-developable surfaces fabrication move from “paneling” to “kerfing”, or “kerf bending”. This subtractive manufacturing technique consists in transforming a rigid material in a flexible one and the problem to solve is how to cut the flat shape to obtain the 3D design surface. This is a quite simple question to solve for a developable surface, but it is a very complex problems for a double curvature surface manufacturing. The aims of our research are: analyzing the relationship between the curvature of surfaces and kerfing techniques; testing different ways to optimize the design of cutting patterns to bend a rigid materials; testing different ways to manufacture 3D surface from 2D panel. We are manufacturing some prototypes that are made up of pieces of developable helicoid and hyperbolic paraboloid.

Mara Capone, Emanuela Lanzara

Digital Joinery for Hybrid Carpentry

The craft of carpentry relies on joinery: connections between pieces of wood to create multipart structures. In traditional woodworking, joints are limited to the manual chisel skills of the craftsperson, or to capabilities of the machines, which favourite 90° or 180° angle joints with no more than two elements. We contribute an interactive design process in which joints are generated digitally to allow for unrestricted beam connectors, then produced from Nylon-12 using selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D printing. We present our Generative Joinery Design Tool and demonstrate our system on a selection of stools. This chapter exemplifies the potential of Digital Joinery to enhance carpentry by incorporating a hybrid and interactive level of design sophistication and affordances that are very hard to achieve with traditional skills and tools.

Shiran Magrisso, Amit Zoran

Geometric Patterns and the Art of Kundekari in Traditional Turkish Woodworking

One of the most important areas contributing in the wealth of Turkish art is the woodworking that displays fine aesthetic spirit in the best way. Once the Turks arrived in the Anatolia, they sustained their traditions of art remained from the Central Asia in field of woodworking as the case of every field. It is possible to determine the most beautiful and richest examples of this in the art of Anatolian Seljuk state. Anatolian Seljukians has not only utilized wood as a construction material in architecture but also formed some other handcrafts made of wood such as mimbar, rostrum, lectern, the Koran case cover, drawers, symbolic coffin and other fine art works. It is seen that Anatolian Seljukians and Ottomants mostly use the techniques of carving (embossing), kundekari (build-up, interlock), latticed carving and dyeing. Being made by combining several components together by means of lathes without using nails and glue, kündekâri technique is an expensive and very demanding technique that prevents breakage, cracking and distortion of wood due to external effects such as moisture and heat. The contribution of kundekari techniques in traditional woodworking shall be investigated in the study.

E. Sibel (Onat) Hattap

Digital Wood Trusses. Geometry and Parameters/Fabrication and Monitoring

This paper aims to demonstrate how to translate features and properties of existing wooden structures about function, performance and aesthetic into BIM objects. This purpose has a double effect: from an operative perspective, the modelling of existing wooden structures is necessary for any structural restoration project, while culturally for the preservation of construction techniques and their transferability in the current design theory. This refers in particular to wooden trusses as compound objects, such as to comply with a single structural and configurative purpose within the built space. The study proves the feasibility of describing the relationship among geometry, material features, construction techniques and simulation of trusses within a BIM environment. From a methodological point of view, starting from a point cloud, the process involves the modelling of beams and trusses, the construction of a library of nodes with parametric geometry drawn from nineteenth-century treatises (also called “wood stereotomy”), the information exchange from the BIM object to structural simulation environment. Moreover, there is the development of a parametric relation structure, which enables the creation of cutting parameters of the truss’s structural components. The case study from which the system is obtained is the covering system of the Church of the Eremitani, which hosts a so-called revolutionary covering system by a fourteenth-century monk, Giovanni degli Eremitani.

Andrea Giordano, Paolo Borin, Federico Panarotto

Digital Technologies for Cultural Heritage: 3D Representation of Complex Wooden Structures

In line with the growing demand of digital documentation in the field of Cultural Heritage, nowadays survey technologies allow an immediate reading of a whole system directly in a 3D environment. The Photogrammetry Laboratory at the Iuav University of Venice had often dealt with surveying and documenting complex wooden structures. In this work, we will present the methodology used to acquire two different types of structures with an in-depth analysis of two Venetian study cases: the SS. Giovanni e Paolo’s wooden dome and the Magazzini del Sale’s trusses, starting from a previous work in the Ducal Palace. The purpose of this research was to analyse the shape and the geometry of these structures: because of their complexity, a laser scanning survey, with the support of more traditional methods, seemed to be the best way to analyse them and to obtain the information directly in a 3D environment. The final aim was not only the creation of 3D models, useful for studying the spatial complexity, but also the identification of an operational procedure for such particular constructive techniques. This paper analyses the issues concerning the survey processes and it illustrates the solutions chosen to overcome them.

Caterina Gottardi, Caterina Balletti, Simone Florian, Francesco Guerra

AHBIM for Wooden Built Heritage Conservation

The chapter investigates the potential offered by the Building Information Modeling for the conservation of the wooden architectural heritage. Based on the architectural survey, the BIM modeling of a South Tyrolean farm was carried out, with particular attention to the aspects related to its management and maintenance. Inside the database connected to the model, information about the building has been included, which can also be used on site through the use of mobile devices. The sharing of such information within a single platform avoids risks connected to the failure or incorrect transmission of data, allowing the optimization of the management, maintenance and conservation of the architectural asset.

Stefano Brusaporci, Alessandro Luigini, Starlight Vattano, Pamela Maiezza, Alessandra Tata

Shape and Design of Ancestral Fishing Machines Between Geometry and Technology

The choice of studying trabucchi as bearer of knowledge is justified through the aim of clarifying the expertise they hand down and make them available, after they have been interpreted and organized. For this purpose, the technological analysis of the studied material has been critically conducted, considering historical, political and cultural issues they are connected with. It will be cleared how structural conception of trabucchi is strictly connected with the aim why they have been built, and any technical choice has been motivated by practical needs, which can be understood through a deep knowledge of the places, of the possibilities and the economic environment where trabucchi were born and evolved. By analyzing the logic with which its parts have been assembled (as a base for any constructive choice) it will be pointed out the extraordinariness of the structural scheme, which reached excellent results by exploiting the available resources with great intelligence. The case study is the Punta Turchino trabucco, through its specific environment, it will be analyzed a preservation/reconstruction design.

Domenico D’Uva

3D Digital Systems for the Documentation and Representation of the Wooden Heritage Between Finland and Russia: Survey Methods and Procedures for Detailed Analysis

This contribution presents research experiences carried out on historic wooden heritage located between Northern Finland and Russia. Many cultures all over the world hold their own testimony related to historic wooden architecture (Iori 2005), different in their constructive techniques and compositional results but at the same time full of common features. For this reason we can assume that wooden architecture represents one of the oldest building systems adopted all over the world by people who developed specific approaches in building with timber material while respecting local tradition (Pryce 2005). This vast and unique wooden world heritage strongly needs today to be surveyed and documented with a deep level of detail and accuracy by using the most accurate survey methods and digital systems. The contribution describes three specific case studies located in different geographical areas: The Unesco World Heritage Site of the Pogost Complex on Kizhi Island and rural settlements in Karelia (Russia), The Wooden Farm House of Lamminaho in Vaala region (Finland) and the residential wooden district of Raksila in Oulu (Finland). The research experiences presented have the aim to offer a wide viewpoint on how survey operations and analysis should be performed and which are the main strategies and procedures useful for obtaining specific results. From 2012 until now European Funding has supported researches on Wooden Architecture with a Seventh Framework Programme, Marie Curie Actions People (years 2012–2014) and from 2017 until 2019 with a Marie S. Curie Individual Fellowship held by Post Doctoral Researcher Sara Porzilli, actually based in Oulu, Finland.

Sara Porzilli, Stefano Bertocci

“Techos de Armaduras” in Cuban Colonial Architecture: Cuban Coverings from XVII to XVIII Century

The main research investigation deals with wooden roofs in the context of colonial architecture in Cuba, focusing especially on civil and religious buildings from XVII to XVIII centuries. The roofing technique treated in the present research comes from the Cubans span—roofs called “armadura de maderas” and they originate from Spanish sloping roofs called “armadura de pares”, typical of the mudéjar style. Thanks to the colonialization process, the experience and the cultural background in building them came directly from Spain. Like Spanish roofs, Cuban ones hide a powerful but visibly light structural whole provided with little elements of small size. Together with Canary Islands, Cuba recalls its incredible alikeness with constructive solutions used in Castilla and Andalusia. It can be noticed that both in Canary Islands and Cuban roofs there are great similitudes as well as great differences: for example, in the Canary Islands wooden decorations are often very rich, while in Cuba is more likely to be found simpler decorative items. What is emphasized in the Cuban wooden roof is instead the structure, that is always manifest independently by the type of its decorations.

Cristiana Bartolomei, Caterina Morganti, Giorgia Predari

The Caribbean Bahareque: From Living Branches to the Wall

This research project begins with a two-hour journey in the Cordoba department, (Colombian Caribbean Region), two hours of endless pathway and abrupt braking dividing the city of Monteria from Covenas town; namely the inland from the sea, the green from the blue. A trip that has allowed landscape observation presenting itself as an endless extension where nature mixes with man and cattle presence. The project begins with landscape observation where inherency of fences of live branches nailed in the ground is a constant. In such a landscape, what is built seems to be obtained using wood, by means of self-construction and characterized by an emergency visualization of consensual stability. Long series of lined up vertical boards, for example, describe horizontal lines which probably pursued the need to define them as private fields and properties. Approaching the towns seems to intensify poles’ deformation, but it can be just a sensation, and it hypothesizes a new idea of curtain wall appearing urbanized when definitions begin to look alike. The city is approaching, or it is a campaign that slowly hits in the lure of modernity. Irregular enclosures begin to harden, to acquire new rules and orders. Heights appear regularized. Even parcels will appear permanently blocked in a wall. The research has been developed through the study of bahareque, an ancient technique of Caribbean construction to build walls of wooden sticks and a final layer of humid ground. Nonetheless, the study’s objective is to analyse the historical genesis of vernacular architectures where sticks become wall. The wall is born, but hypothetically the branches’ braided system has not completely disappeared (Fig. 1). The wall continues to delimit borders and architecture as a branches’ set stuck in the ground. It has neither lost its nature nor origin. They are signs of the landscape and, at the same time, the most evident expression and symbol of knowing how to do and live through a territory’s materials. The study ends with an analysis of the genesis and use of living branches in fields such as architecture where their extraordinary construction techniques represent an indelible knowledge.

Massimo Leserri, Dayan-Ariadna Guzman-Bejarano

Connection Between Nature Lessons and Material Explorations


Computational Mechanical Modelling of Wood—From Microstructural Characteristics Over Wood-Based Products to Advanced Timber Structures

Wood as structural bearing material is often encountered with skepticism and, therefore, it is not used as extensively as its very good material properties would suggest. Beside building physics and construction reasons, the main cause of this skepticism is its quite complex material behavior, which is the reason that design concepts for wood have so far not achieved a desirable prediction accuracy. Thus, for the prediction of effective mechanical properties of wood, advanced computational tools are required, which are able to predict as well as consider multidimensional strength information at different scales of observation. Within this chapter, three computational methods are presented: an extended finite element approach able to describe strong strain-softening and, thus, reproduce brittle failure modes accurately; a numerical limit analysis approach, exclusively describing ductile failure; and an elastic limit approach based on continuum micromechanics. Based on illustrative results, the performance of these methods is shown and discussed. Furthermore, a finite-element-based design procedure for an elastically-deformed wooden structure is outlined, showing how advanced mechanical information of the base material could be exploited within digital design of complex timber structures in future. Finally, geometric design concepts applicable within digital wood design are discussed, giving insights into possible future developments.

Josef Füssl, Markus Lukacevic, Stefan Pillwein, Helmut Pottmann

Hygroscapes: Innovative Shape Shifting Façades

This chapter focuses on the testing and design of shape shifting façade prototypes that are programmed to passively sense stimuli and respond in a controlled setting based on the hygroscopic properties of wood. Wood is introduced in this context as a low-tech smart material with a naturally soft responsive mechanism that offers a substitute for mechanical actuators. First, a set of physical experiments were conducted to deduce the design parameters that affect wood morphology, behavior and response time upon changes in humidity levels and moisture content, including dimensional ratio, grain orientation, material thickness, type of wood, and lamination. We then report on the process and outcome of a workshop held at the American University in Cairo, with the main challenge of regulating the morphology and hygroscopic behavior of wood to work as an actuator with specifically desired motion for adaptive building façade prototypes. Based on the observations and analysis of concepts and mechanisms, we discuss shape shifting grammars as a framework for devising adaptive façade prototypes from a generative design perspective, where specific combinations of motion parameters are used to induce semantic rules and customized commands for the overall behavior of shape shifting mechanisms.

Sherif Abdelmohsen, Sigrid Adriaenssens, Stefano Gabriele, Luigi Olivieri, Rana El-Dabaa

Adaptive Wooden Architecture. Designing a Wood Composite with Shape-Memory Behavior

Wood is a sustainable and attractive material with a venerable history of use in architectural construction and carpentry. It also has a promising and innovative future in architecture and design. The aim of our research is to reintroduce wood as a responsive and transformable material for use in novel adaptive architectural design. By combining a refurbished technique of wood-cutting known as kerfing with the use of a shape-memory polymer resin, we have created wood-based surfaces that can turn into precise curvilinear forms without incurring damage, and then self-transform to their original shape in response to environmental stimuli. We developed a temperature-based responsive polymer and a flexible, diamond-shaped kerfing pattern in our prototype testing and were able to achieve the desired results. This method enabled us to design and control the material and its behavior by taking advantage of the micro-scale resin polymer’s effects, combined with wood’s specifically cut geometry. In addition to demonstrating the possibilities of shape memory behavior for wood-based architecture, this prototype offers a practical technique that can be used by designers to create flexible and inexpensive wood-based fabrications on the required scale with compact storage and transportation alignments.

Maryam Mansoori, Negar Kalantar, Terry Creasy, Zofia Rybkowski

Geometry-Induced System of Controlled Deformations. Application in Self-organized Wooden Gridshell Structures

This chapter presents a novel construction system which offers an efficient materialization method for double-curved surfaces. This results in an active-bending system of controlled deformations. The latter system embeds its construction manual into the geometry of its components, thus it can be used as a self-formation process. The two presented gridshell prototypes are composed of geometry-induced, variable stiffness elements. The latter elements are able to form programmed shapes passively when gravitational loads are applied. Each element consists of multiple layers and a slip zone among them. The slip allows the element to be flexible when flat and increasingly stiffer when its curvature increases. The presented system eliminates the need for electromechanical equipment since it relies on material properties and geometrical configurations. Wood, as a flexible and strong material, has been used for the prototypes. The fabrication of the timber laths has been done via CNC industrial milling processes. The scalability of the system shows potential for applications in large-scale transformable structures. The comparison between the predefined digital design and the resulting geometry of the physical prototypes is reviewed here. The aim is to inform the design and fabrication process with the extracted performance data and thus, optimize the system’s behaviour.

Efilena Baseta

Natural Complexity. An Introduction to Structural Design with Tree Forks

Amongst construction materials wood offers a unique potential for deriving complex spatial geometries from its grown fibrous structure. The inherent material properties such as grain direction, can be used as generative parameters for innovative timber structures. With the possibilities of 3D-scanning and Computer Tomography the anatomy of wood can be exploited as a design driver for spatial structures. This chapter introduces a design concept of utilizing natural forked branches as components in structural frameworks.

Lukas Allner, Daniela Kroehnert

Evaluation of Wooden Structures

In order to preserve the architectural heritage and sustainability of cities, the accurate evaluation of the mechanical properties of existing buildings is crucial. While inorganic building materials such as natural stones can be evaluated more easily, it is difficult to accurately assess the mechanical properties of wood. Mistaken evaluations of structural wooden members may lead to large-scale replacements in the maintenance and restoration of buildings. The techniques used in the evaluation of wood are; destructive, semi-destructive and non-destructive tests. Although destructive tests give accurate information about the mechanical properties of wood, they are not preferred in the evaluation of the existing structures because they cause the loss of structural integrity. The semi-destructive and non-destructive methods are being widely used for the last decades in the evaluation of structural wooden members. As these techniques do not give harm to the structural members, they allow the in situ evaluation of wooden structures. While semi-destructive tests are carried out with the extraction of a small piece without influencing the mechanical properties of wood, non-destructive techniques are carried out with the help of small devices in order to detect the interior defect and deteriorations. In this study, it is aimed to give information about some of the most used semi-destructive and non-destructive test methods.

Gülru Koca

Solid Wood and Wood Based Composites: The Challenge of Sustainability Looking for a Short and Smart Supply Chain

The paper takes into account the most important wood based products used in architecture, structural engineering and design. The amount of roundwood, sawnwood and wood panel production is analysed and forest certification is reported as possible tool to ensure a sustainable forest management, fighting illegal logging and deforestation. A smart review of the most used wood-based products is performed together with the chance to activate a modern short supply chain. The state of art of the wood species actually used is considered together with most important actual challenges addressed to obtain sustainable wood-based products referring to eco-friendly process of gluing and increasing durability. The possibility to use short chain species for structural purposes is reported looking to Italian case studies (chestnut, eucalyptus and pines). A lot of successful prototypes and products have been obtained using short supply species, but research still is needed on the most type or products especially if they are to be used for structural purposes.

M. Romagnoli, M. Fragiacomo, Antonio Brunori, M. Follesa, G. Scarascia Mugnozza

Bamboo’s Bio-inspired Material Design Through Additive Manufacturing Technologies

Bamboo is one of the longest-used organic raw materials in the tropics for a large number of different purposes in the daily lives of human beings. Because of its excellent physical-mechanical properties, in many parts of the world it is widely used as a structural material, especially for the construction of scaffolding and the construction of buildings. The bamboo can be modelled as a composite material, consisting of a of a parenchyma cells matrix, similar to a foam, reinforced by bundles of fibers associated with vessels. The present work aimed to explore the possibility to design a 3D printed biomimetic composite material able of keeping advantages from the bamboo morphological structure. Samples made of PVA, ABS and PVA + ABS were manufactured using Fused Deposition Modelling and tested under compression and bending conditions. The behavior under compression has shown to depend mainly on the material used while in bending the structure has shown important effects leading the sample made of PVA + ABS to have the same performances of much expensive pure ABS.

Francesco Buonamici, Yary Volpe, Rocco Furferi, Monica Carfagni, Giovanni Signorini, Giacomo Goli, Lapo Governi, Marco Fioravanti

Microtimber: The Development of a 3D Printed Composite Panel Made from Waste Wood and Recycled Plastics

This chapters reports research conducted in the context of the multi-disciplinary research project at the University of Sydney—Microtimber: Development of a 3D printed, gradient timber panel composed of forestry waste and by-products (2015–2019). Funded by Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA), the research intends to valorise forest and plastic waste by combining saw dust with recycled acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) to develop an environmentally sustainable composite material suitable for 3D printing, using a fused filament fabrication process. First, the research explores the mechanical performance and printability of wood-plastic composites and variations in their respective compositions and second, it develops new 3D printing processes that achieve material and aesthetic gradients through the optimisation of printing parameters and development of printing algorithms. The aim is to achieve a fluidly variable gradient material that represents a new design paradigm in architecture and replaces traditional architectural systems that rely on the mechanical layering of different elements such as structure, rain screen, insulation, lining etc. Preliminary testing showed that from a perspective of environmental sustainability, the unproblematic recycling of these Microtimber specimen promises to close the loop between the material sourcing stages and the end of life management of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

Sandra Karina Löschke, John Mai, Gwenaelle Proust, Arianna Brambilla

Constructive Wisdom and Realization Challenges


Seeing a Tree as a Prerequisite to Timber Architecture

This chapter discusses the way in which a tree’s geometry is visually perceived and constrained in architectural design. The discussion is centered at the intersection of visual perception and geometry to explore the design opportunities in a tree’s complex geometry. The first part outlines the representational framework and the role of visual perception in seeing tree geometry. The second part repositions timber architecture typologies using the framework discussed in the first part. The third part illustrates alternative approaches for embedding tree geometry in timber designs. This representational platform aligns well with the emerging movement on organic timber architecture and is timely due to the recent advancements in timber manufacturing and technology.

Rizal Muslimin

Constructing Correctly in Wood: New Insights into Timber Technology Approaches Through Purist and Liberalist Schools of Thought

Conventionally, technology-based articles focus on methods by which architects and engineers designed and built to present new methods, materials to evidence novelty in technical terms. This paper does not do that. Instead, through a current overview of past and present timber practices, it will present a new cultural perspective by looking at timber technology from purist and liberalist approaches. Indicating a moralistic sensibility of what “constructing correctly” in wood means to them, with these two attitudes implying inherent values, this paper seeks to project a new cultural dimension on technology. More importantly, the approaches convincingly reflects our relationship with digital technology, as timber culture and tradition come to terms with the inevitability of the digital age.

Gabriel Tang, John Chilton

The Emergy of Digital Wood

The construction industry and building sector are now widely known to be one of the biggest energy consumers and carbon emitters. Some architectural agendas for sustainability focus on ‘energy efficiency’ or buildings that minimize their energy intake during their lifetime—through the use of new ‘greener’ elements, such as more efficient mechanical systems or more insulative wall systems. The focus on the efficiency of one aspect or system of the building, versus the effectiveness of the whole, leads to ad hoc ecology and results in the familiar “law of unintended consequences.” This chapter explores the ways in which researchers have been exploring the use of technology to expand the use of wood while minimizing the ‘emergy’ or energy memory of the material being consumed. These explorations are two-fold; using wood as a responsive material which can adapt to its environment with no external energy, improving the performance of a building, and the creation of construction methods and joinery which responds to the inherit “liveness” of the wood. This chapter will explore the notion of emergy through a series of case studies which exemplify research that can capitalize on dramatic advancements in the use of scanning methods and robotic technology to greatly expand the performance of wood.

Chris Beorkrem

Housing Prototypes, Timber Tectonic Culture and the Digital Age

Arguably the balloon frame exemplifies the commencement of the embedment of structural performance within timber construction standardisation and a system innovation responding to socio-technical issues in domestic construction. Three recent residential architecture prototypes which embrace digital design to fabrication are discussed as continuing this tradition. Held as exemplars of the capacity potential of digital design to file-to-factory these projects offer an opportunity to reflect on questions related to material culture, the social networks of construction and the boundaries between architecture, structure, materials, and construction. This chapter raises a series of discussion points centred around the role of timber-based products, in a digitally enabled domestic construction industry.

Colabella Sofia, Gardiner Blair

Performative Architecture and Wooden Structures: Overview on the Main Research Paths in Europe

One of the main aspects investigated in the European research context on Performative Architecture is related to the use of digital innovations in wood structures construction of units and technological systems as well as architectural organisms at 1:1 scale. To analyze the different approaches the contribution proposes a series of case study and the results of two applied research, the 1 to 1 scale pavilions Fusta Ròbotica and Digital Urban Orchard. The case studies are selected verifying the correspondence to the following parameters: the presence of a performance-based process through which explore informed architectures; the use of low-engineered and natural wood and the engineered one; the materialization of the digital model through innovative manufacturing processes, specifically robotic fabrication. The contribution allows gathering pros and cons in the three different investigative macro areas: performance-based design, material culture, and fabrication process. This analytical investigation helps to create a clear research scenario around the topic of digital wood design as well as the definition of an innovative pathway for future researches, looking forward the assimilation of these innovative concepts in the building construction sector.

Angelo Figliola, Alessandra Battisti

Adaptive Timber Towers. An Evolutionary Prototype for the 21st Century Skyscraper

The biological metaphor introduced by computational design, as well as the increasing theoretical framework of parametric architecture, opens new perspectives for both wood and skyscraper design. At the intersection of architecture, biology, and computer science, avant-garde designers are reshaping the historical relationship between nature and architecture fostering a natural approach to design which results in: structural lightness, rational use of energy and elegance. Wood seems to be a perfect material to engage with this new period of design research, and while timber towers are getting higher, there is a strong interest in understanding to which extent wood can represent a valuable alternative to those materials that have characterized the recent architectural debate. Analyzing the emerging type of the wooden skyscraper within the context of globalization, technological advances, and ecology; the authors present their vision for the 21th-century skyscraper. Based on parametric design and evolutionary principles, the proposed model can adapt to different contexts and conditions, providing different solutions as the result of the interaction with the surrounding environment.

Alessandro Buffi, Gian Maria Angelini

Knowledge-Based Design in Industrialised House Building: A Case-Study for Prefabricated Timber Walls

This chapter illustrates how the adoption of a knowledge-based engineering approach may provide a powerful tool for the industrialised house building sector to manage the complex and multidisciplinary nature of design, fabrication and installation. The research focuses on timber technologies and prefabricated timber components, which are frequently selected in preference to other industrialised building systems because of the advantages they offer in terms of weight, workability and sustainability strategies. A knowledge-based engineering methodology is explored for the design of prefabricated timber-framed external walls, encoding both “explicit” and “tacit” knowledge into a digital three-dimensional model. Results demonstrate how such an approach could significantly change common design practices by shifting the major phase of design effort to earlier stages in the project cycle, thereby minimising re-work, reducing data fragmentation and potentially removing the need for drawings. A key finding of this paper is that model interoperability, maintenance and reuse becomes unlikely if an agreed methodology, including a description logic, is not adopted. Despite the need for a rigorous approach, the ability to capture, manage and reuse design knowledge could be of significant benefit to emerging industrialised house building ventures.

Graham Day, Eugenia Gasparri, Mathew Aitchison

(Re)construct with Wood, The Case Study of Amatrice’s Prefabricated Bus Station Designed In BIM Environment

The project stems from an agreement between the regional transport company COTRAL spa and the Department of Architecture of the University of Roma Tre. The need for a new bus exchange node arises following the earthquake of August 24th 2016 that destroyed the city of Amatrice and damaged the neighboring areas. The project is designed for areas subjected to earthquakes, it is therefore an opportunity to tackle the difficulties at national level starting from the solution of the local problem. It is a wooden building, environmentally aware, combining active and passive strategies together with the technological innovation of the modular systems of which it is composed, with the objective of reducing costs and consumption. The drafting of the project documents, the choice of technology to be used in the nodes and the prefabrication system was all realized in the BIM environment. The aim of the University convention with COTRAL spa is not to deliver only the graphic works, but a complete package that simultaneously considers the project in three dimensions, the detailed nodes, the quantification of the materials used, and the solar contribution given by the its geo-location. The opportunity arising from the agreement, therefore, lends itself to become a case study, a virtuous example of research on how architecture can intervene quickly and concretely on the territory. An intervention with an open look at the future of design and representation.

Maria Grazia Cianci, Daniele Calisi, Francesca di Benedetto, Matteo Molinari

Customizable Social Wooden Pavilions: A Workflow for the Energy, Emergy and Perception Optimization in Perugia’s Parks

The research aims to generate a workflow, which subdivides the complex problem of optimizing the buildings energy consumption in smaller problems that can easier be solved. The workflow starts from the definition of the insertion context of the building, which influences it principally regarding the climate, the sun exposure and the shadings. The successive step is choosing one or more optimal wall stratigraphies which show the best combination of different parameters, like cost, transmittance, thickness and emergy. The last step concerns the optimization of the shape as a function of the previously defined stratigraphies and of the energy consumptions for lighting, heating, cooling and electrical equipment.

Marco Seccaroni, Giulia Pelliccia

Empathic Architecture: Digital Fabrication and Community Participation

This paper examines a new construction method in engineered wood material, including plywood and LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber), using computer numerically controlled routers to build simple buildings in a quick and inexpensive way. With the method elaborate on here, there is no need to use skilled labor or sophisticated construction equipment. It provides an effective way of rebuilding in the wake of natural disasters. The primary innovations of this method are in ease of construction and transportation by using flat, portable, and durable engineered wood products, application of the traditional wisdom in wooden carpentry, and the efficiency of digital fabrication technology. In the case of disaster relief, using this construction process as a method of organizing community is essential for successful implementation. The experience of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in March, 2011 in north-east Japan highlights the importance of bringing both technical and social skills to disaster reconstruction.

Hiroto Kobayashi, Don O’Keefe

Non-orthogonal Light Timber Frame Design: Using Digital Manufacturing Technologies to Facilitate Circular Economy Architecture

Orthogonal structural timber framing is the predominant method for building low density residential buildings in a large proportion of developed countries. Today this framing system is highly refined to be economically advantageous—making use of low-value and widely available materials. However, this construction product largely ignores the emerging ‘Circular Economy’ (CE) sustainability agenda. At the end of a buildings life, and when deconstruction is attempted, most materials integrated into an orthogonal frame are irreversibly damaged. Furthermore, deconstruction is time consuming and yields very few valuable materials. Thus, this research questions the suitability of conventional framing methods to achieve true life-cycle sustainability and suggests a series of radical non-orthogonal solutions in response. These solutions are centered around maximizing the recovery of all materials attached to (and located in) the structural frame at the end of a buildings life. Non-orthogonal frames are the superior solution as they are generally inherently resistant to lateral loads and can be dynamically modulated to fit within many different building conditions. The research uses computer-aided fabrication technology to integrate jointing and assembly conditions in the non-orthogonal timber frame geometry that substantially speeds up end-of-life deconstruction.

Gerard Finch, Guy Marriage

Timber Plate Shell Structures: A Digital Resurgence of Traditional Joining Methods

Thin shell structures such as vaults and domes, allow for a column-free construction over a large span. Such surface-active structure systems have been of interest for architects and engineers over centuries, both due to their structural efficiency and their elegant appearance. Only thin cross-sections and therefore small amounts of materials are required, due to the curved or even double-curved shape, which minimizes bending moments and provides a membrane action. However, the design and production of these thin shell structures has always been challenging. In particular, the construction of shells usually requires very time-consuming and costly formwork. Over time, advances in technology and new materials have changed the way vaults and shells have been designed and built, leading to new structural typologies. The construction sequence and assembly methods have always had a decisive role and a great influence. This article will describe the background and the ongoing developments in the design of plate shell structure, with a detailed focus on timber folded plates and a segmental plate shell system. The digital age has brought entirely new possibilities and materials, which may remove the cost and time constraints in the design, fabrication and production those efficient and elegant, surface-active structures. While the inspiration for new assembly methods and building material wood date back to the beginning of building history, the efficient realization can now be achieved through algorithmic geometry processing.

Christopher Robeller

Computationally Derived Cross-Laminated Timber Reinforcement and Construction

Computationally derived Cross-Laminated Timber reinforcement leverages advanced computation to design and manufacture hybrid panels of Glass-Fiber Reinforced Plastic (GFRP) and Cross Laminated Timber (CLT). CLT is an emerging technology for all scales of design because of its environmental and performative benefits. The major factor affecting their adoption more holistically is spanning limitations, which often result in limited building possibilities. In this study innovative computational techniques are used to modify traditional CLT panels by removing material where analysis suggests it is unnecessary and to tactically introduce GFRP material where performance is most affected. The computational rethinking of the composite make-up begins by looping design and analysis programs together during design to strategically modify the panel for specific load conditions. This is followed by the coupling of robotic manufacturing techniques at both the panel assembly and modification levels in the pursuit of accurately and efficiently constructing the panel. The designer ultimately modifies the unit assembly allowing for more formal freedom with increased performance characteristics. Additionally, the strength to weight ratio of wood and GFRP versus more common materials suggests a desirable relationship of increased strength similar to reinforced concrete with only a fraction of the weight increase.

Jefferson Ellinger, Chris Beorkrem, Calum Dodson

Beech Wood for Architectural Design: Three Studies Case from an International Design Contest Terres de Hêtre®

The present contribution proposes three projects and relative speculative reflections, elaborated by the writers, concerning the important theme of the wooden roof construction, showing the results of the three competitions organized by the Terres de Hêtre® consortium, entitled: “L’architecture au service de construction en bois de hêtre des vosges”. The three projects, object of the paper (awarded with the third placement during the first edition and with the second placement during the third edition), describe an effort to demonstrate new applications, characteristics, shapes and unexpected unexpressed potentials of this traditional material for a new contemporary design; they are architectures that have the common characteristic of being all a great challenge to the intrinsic limits of the wooden material: in all the outcomes results the research of geometric complexity and the limit of the static-mechanical resistance of the elements is evident. The architectural forms are developed starting from a series of geometric and topological variations on the theme of the wood-frame roof: the first with powerful overhangs on the model of the gull-wing structure, the second on the tree-shape model and the third on the shell-ruled–surface model.

Giuseppe Fallacara, Antonio Pantaleo, Giuseppe Scaltrito

Brise-Soleil House: Developing Software Tools to Enable the Integration of Design and Fabrication in Timber

This chapter presents a system for seamlessly integrating design, fabrication, and assembly of a geometrically complex timber veil for a house in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. It explains how, through the development of bespoke software tools, a designer can iteratively work in real-time and have the ability to pass model data through a comprehensive automated system, generating the output of fabrication-ready data for a highly customized project.

Jonathan Nelson, Chris Knapp, Rory Spence, Joel Hutchines

Towards a 4.0 Mass Customized Wooden Housing in the Mediterranean Area: The Ecodomus Project

The paper describes the necessary transition from the consolidated practices of contemporary residential architecture to innovative sustainable design and construction practices, which can be pursued by applying the principles of digital fabrication to the construction industry. The contribution is divided into two parts: the first investigates the theoretical-critical assumptions of research and the second part describes a design experience that led to the creation of a housing prototype with an irregular geometry made up of CLT panels. The paper will explain the need to overcome the current phase of experimentation using digital fabrication technologies applied to small pavilions with complex shapes or high budget, to move to their application on residential building. The application of these technologies to residential architecture is desirable both for the diffusion and for the relevance of the change it would produce.

Micaela Colella, Giuseppe Fallacara

HOUSE 1 Protostructure: Enhancement of Spatial Imagination and Craftsmanship Between the Digital and the Analogical

Conceived around the concept of protostructure, HOUSE 1 deploys a strategy to answer a daring but simple question: How could we design a house between almost 300 people? The unique pedagogical framework of ALICE, first year Architectural Design course, proposes the integration of a series of full scale physical wooden constructs, enacting collaborative thinking and drawing on collective spatial knowledge. The protostructure constitutes at once both a material and immaterial open source support for the individual and collective interventions by the students. Its material dimension as a physical construction is invested and complemented by the immateriality of the guiding scheme. In this article, we review the steps in the development of the theoretical model and physical implementation of HOUSE 1 and discuss its relevance with regards to the relation between analogical and digital modes of engagement, pedagogical frameworks and spatial cognitive strategies. This implementation of the protostructure shows its potential as a tool to approach wood design, through a combination of digital and analogical processes, enhancing the deployment of spatial cognitive strategies with the use of wood as a material through and with which to think about space.

Dieter Dietz, Dario Negueruela del Castillo, Agathe Mignon, Julien Lafontaine Carboni

Parametric Transfigurations and Morphological Optimizations


KODAMA: A Polyhedron Sculpture in the Forest at Arte Sella

KODAMA is the new “sculpture” conceived by Kengo Kuma for Arte Sella—The Contemporary Mountain. The process shows the concept, the development, and the construction of a complex structure in massive wood (Italian larch), a new sculpture in this famous Land art park. After the first options, which have been discussed between the Japanese and the Italian teams, a solution with lattice blades has been chosen. The first phase was to produce different scale mockups, both analogic and digital in order to find proportion and dimensions. All the structure which creates a kind of “porous sphere” (a polyhedron) is made only by one wood section, connected without nails or screws. Old toys, Chidori-like, are the reference and several scaled mockups have been produced with different woods: cedar, larch, fir, and oak. Once assessed the architectural/spatial shape the model has been studied for its structural behavior thanks to complex software analysis, which have been studied using the parametric model (Rhino-Grasshopper). Models have been used for testing the structure after assessing the real loads (mainly snow and wind). Full scale 1:1 mockup have been realized both analogic and with CNC machines by master carpenters. The final shape is an ideal “Teahouse” space in the middle of the forest, close to Villa Strobele, which will be the new core of Arte Sella, dedicated to famous architects and their ways to conceive art and nature using wood as a creative material.

Kengo Kuma, Marco Imperadori, Marco Clozza, Toshiki Hirano, Andrea Vanossi, Federica Brunone

Wooden Byobu. From Architectural Façade to Sculpture

The Japanese Pavilion at EXPO Milano 2015, designed by Atsushi Kitagawara, has been visited by millions of people with a great success, especially for its stunning wooden façade. Its naked structure is defined by only one element, a 12 × 12 cm section, whose larch came from Fukushima region, to show the health of the forest after the terrible Tsunami. The façade was conceived with studs, connected without any screws or nails, thanks to the “compressive-tension” effect, whose concept interprets old Japanese wooden-based techniques of constructions and even handcrafts of complex wooden toys. Analogic mock-ups and parametric models have defined the entire design phase, leading to a simple form as the end of a complex research path. The wooden structure was, then, elaborated and produced through CNC processes, built for EXPO Milano 2015, and dismantled after the event. A new life of this concept is becoming an art object: the Byobu. This is a traditional separating screen in Japanese houses, something that creates space and multiple possibilities. Thus, the structural concept of EXPO Milano 2015 turns into several variations for different places: University Byobu at Politecnico di Milano, Urban Byobu at Farm Cultural Park in Sicily, Forest Byobu at Arte Sella, near Trento, and finally Museum Byobu—Kigumi Infinity at Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. All these examples leave a memory of a stunning structure, conceived to be temporary for EXPO Milano 2015, now visible in several places between Italy and Japan.

Atsushi Kitagawara, Marco Imperadori, Ryosuke Kuwabara, Federica Brunone, Mayuko Matsukawa

Experimenting the Use of Wood in Contemporary Architecture: Integrating Research into Practice

This chapter is a take on contemporary works in wood seen from two different points of view: academic and professional. The knowledge about digital wood developed at different universities through Digital Fabrication Laboratories and, when teaching architecture, it has proved to be effective but with certain limitations when used for real constructions. In fact, translating the freedom of building temporary architectures—which is usually one of the prerogatives of teaching architecture during design studio or workshops—into wood architecture that respect all the constraints of real construction is a challenge. Parametric design is essential to control process and final output. There are several aspects such as building codes, costs, certifications, durability and expertise which have a strong impact on the feasibility and final output of digital wood architecture. This chapter shows several experiences where innovative ideas developed through research have been applied both to temporary pavilions and real constructions in Japan, Italy and France. Two tea houses, a pavilion for archeologists, a façade for a recreational youth center, a modular furniture system customisable online and the interior design of the media library of the Quai Branly Museum in Paris will be discussed. Integrating research into practice is a way to try to make better buildings, that are appropriate to their users, clients, context and time.

Salvator-John A. Liotta

Digital Design Thinking in Architectural Education Testing Idea-Driven and Science-Driven Design Processes Towards Researching Polymer/Wood Composite Structures

The ongoing introduction of digital design tools in the architectural profession does not only influence the architectural design product, but also affects the underlying design process. A “digital design process” taking full advantage of the potential of digital design tools is different and can offer more potential than a paper and pencil based design development process. Zaero-Polo (2001) notes, the design process itself becomes more interesting than the design idea. This process aims to explore the creative potential of machines and incorporate knowledge from multiple disciplines, rather then apply pre-conceived design metaphors or design ideas. In order to differentiate between traditional and new digital design development processes, a distinction between idea-driven design processes and science-drive design processes is introduced. This research argues that digital technologies help to foster collaboration between architecture and related disciplines (e.g. engineering) in architectural education. Innovative digital architectural design does not only use digital skills in the design process, but also calls for specific digital design and teaching methods. This research combines digital architectural design processes with digital design fabrication technology while teaching experimental workshops with students at different international academic institutions. The idea is to explore the potentials of this combined digital learning chain to initiate innovative architectural implementations.

Andrei Gheorghe

Digital Construction of Timber “Metabolism”

Architecture tectonics with specific geometry is embraced as a major technique to achieve a physical relationship between engineering and social rationality in terms of the use of space and resources. Nowadays, thanks to parametric geometry, new architectural technologies are expected to evolve with digital innovation. Thus, we are in the age of searching for comprehensive changes in architectural tectonics, including materials and processes. We have started to think that some reflections of modern architecture with industrial technology give an opportunity to explore the tectonics in digital tern. Historically, the concept of “Metabolism” was presented in 1960 to integrate the culture of Japanese traditional architecture with modernism and this concept may be revived with digital construction technology. The concept has an impact on the modularity, adaptability, compatibility, and transformability of architectural elements. Presenting our experimental project with this idea, this paper discusses the paradigm shift of architectural design and technology from modern construction based on mass production to digital construction based on smart production.

Yasushi Ikeda

Parametric Modeling of a Wooden Folding Structure

A-Chord is an experimental design project of a wooden structure, produced for the exhibition at the World Wood Day 2015 Festival in İstanbul. It is a design family of folding structures, which are non-standard, light-weight, portable, and re-usable. In this article, we describe a multi-model design process utilized in this project. Then, we explain the application and feedback of the geometric, physical, structural and parametric models. Finally, we introduce the production of a full-scale prototype.

Tuğrul Yazar

Common-action Gardens: Performative and Parametric Prototypes

Common-action Gardens are wooden park structures that were featured within a series of open-air exhibitions, the 3rd International Architecture Biennial Antalya in 2015, and the Beşiktaş International Garden—Flower Festival İstanbul in 2016. These selected art works had been built in the city parks to be exhibited during the festivals. They are still being used by the communities as urban gardens to grow, harvest and share edible plants, rest and play, and sustain flora-fauna. The POTplus Design Research Group has constructed these structures as architectural prototypes in their research to integrate digital design and fabrication technologies with sustainable landscape issues. The specific realms within the scope of this research process are parametric design, performance-based design, digital fabrication, permaculture studies and material exploration. Common-action Gardens I and Common-action Gardens II are constructed with the same composite material system, comprising recyclable materials of beech marine plywood and ethylene-vinyl acetate. They are designed to combine elements of permaculture and integrate these elements with the needs of the park users within a complex structure. In the form-finding process, contouring techniques facilitate the integration of various elements of permaculture within one continuous structure and fast assembly, while nesting operations and CNC milling enable minimum waste of materials. These two urban gardens are designed, fabricated and assembled with the same design-built system based on contouring but in order to adapt to different contexts and to enhance their performative issues they have differentiations. This chapter covers the parametric design approach, digital fabrication and assembly processes of these urban gardens to compare, and discuss the performance-based design strategy behind these processes.

Fulya Akipek

Algorithmic Craftsmanship For Bespoke Timber Architecture

Over the last ten years a lot of research has been put into bridging the digital and the physical. It has been a time of rapid rise of robotics in architecture and fabrication. Based on our research with Estonian wooden house manufacturers, the academic research and the industrial reality still remain worlds apart. Even though computer numerically controlled (CNC) technology is gaining more and more hold in the timber industry, the vision how to use it is driven by economy and efficiency rather than by design. Our research is looking at how architects can start to wield a greater influence on the direction where the automation of construction industry is heading and how to make bespoke design and craftsmanship affordable for the wider public.

Sille Pihlak, Siim Tuksam

FracShell: From Fractal Surface to a Lattice Shell Structure

‘FracShell’ was a digital design workshop as part of a computational morphogenesis project. This chapter outlines the workflow of the workshop highlighting the transformation of the fractal geometry, more specifically, the Takagi-Landsberg’s fractal surface, into a lattice shell structure. This workflow discusses how the mathematical model was transformed into the generative digital model, then the variables-based parametric model followed by the finite element model for the finite element structural analyses, and finally constructional model in order to construct the real-scale lattice shell structure. This workshop illustrates the easy manual construction of a complex digital design taking the advantage of the rule-based shape generations as well as the self-similar modular properties of fractal geometry. The versatility of wood in transforming the complex digital design into its real-scale physical structure has further been mentioned.

Iasef Md Rian

Developable Wooden Surfaces for Lightweight Architecture: Bio-Dune Pavilion

Within the broad context of teaching and research, the results of a project involving a pavilion based on developable wooden surfaces, parametric design, and digital fabrication are presented through the collaboration of Ibero-American universities. The project addresses applications of wood to architecture that involves the CNC cutting of plates, thanks to the properties of developable surfaces. The in-depth knowledge of the geometrical properties of these surfaces opens up a wide range of morphological exploration and new constructive solutions. The proposed system provides a creative response to the criteria of limited material resources (a thin sheet of material) and low production and assembly costs as an analogy with natural construction. This high-tech and low-cost system, together with the Bio-mimetic design, offers an eco-compatible proposal to the three processes under study: design, manufacture, and assembly.

Andrés Martín-Pastor, Rodrigo García-Alvarado

SMALL IS MORE. Wooden Pavilion As a Path of Research

Several shelters have been recently developed by Politecnico di Milano for different purposes but with a common character: smallness. Small is More shows how workshops with students can be extremely efficient and productive on real targets and how materiality is important to learn and step over any parametric approach. Of course, parametric tools can be very useful to manage the design phase and optioneering strategies but, in the end, only real built structure unveils the power of architecture. The paper will show some of this examples where Smallness can be of great effect: Akragashelter in Agrigento—Valle dei Templi (UNESCO Workshop), with a structure in gabion-wall, the roof in fir wood, and parametric design; C-ASA, Active House Shelter in Lecco (Politecnico di Milano ASA Workshop), with CLT structure, aerospace thermo-reflective insulations, and zinc-titanium outer skin; Equilatera, the social Shelter in Favara (FARM Cultural Park), digitally designed, with recycled CLT wasted studs for the structure; Teagloo, in Tokyo with Kengo Kuma Lab (The University of Tokyo), digital designed structure in sushi bamboo baskets, with FRP reinforcements; Veneer House, in VIS (Croatia) with Prof. Hiroto Kobayashi and KOBAYASHI MAKI DESIGN WORKSHOP (Keio University, Tokyo). The learning process has been thought with real targets for social purpose and students have participated in designing real case studies, which are now still in full function.

Marco Imperadori, Graziano Salvalai, Andrea Vanossi, Federica Brunone
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