Building Digital with Timber, Mud, and Ice

[Image: From a project called “Slice” by HANNAH, as featured in FABRICATE 2020.]

The Bartlett School of Architecture recently put out two new books, freely available for download, FABRICATE 2020 and Design Transactions. Check them both out, as each is filled with incredibly interesting and innovative work.

Purely in the interests of time—by all means, download the books and dive in—I’ll focus on three projects rethinking the use of wood, clay, and ice, respectively, alongside new kinds of concrete formwork and 3D printing.

[Image: From “Slice” by HANNAH, as featured in FABRICATE 2020.]

For a project called “Slice,” Sasa Zivkovic and Leslie Lok of design firm HANNAH and Cornell University explore the use of “waste wood” killed by Emerald Ash Borer infestation.

[Image: From “Slice” by HANNAH, as featured in FABRICATE 2020.]

“Mature ash trees with irregular geometries present an enormous untapped material resource. Through high-precision 3D scanning and robotic fabrication on a custom platform, this project aims to demonstrate that such trees constitute a valuable resource and present architectural opportunities,” they explain.

[Images: From “Slice” by HANNAH, as featured in FABRICATE 2020.]

They continue on their website: “No longer bound to the paradigm of industrial standardization, this project revisits bygone wood craft and design based on organic, found and living materials. Robotic bandsaw cutting is paired with high-precision 3D scanning to slice bent logs from ash trees that are infested by the Emerald Ash Borer.”

I’m reminded of a point made by my wife, Nicola Twilley, in an article for The New Yorker last year about fighting wildfires in California. At one point, she describes attempts “to imagine the outlines of a timber industry built around small trees, rather than the big trees that lumber companies love but the forest can’t spare. In Europe, small-diameter wood is commonly compressed into an engineered product called cross-laminated timber, which is strong enough to be used in multistory structures.”

Seeing HANNAH’s work, it seems that perhaps another way to unlock the potential of small-diameter wood is through robotic bandsaw slicing.

[Image: From “Mud Frontiers” by Emerging Objects, as featured in FABRICATE 2020.]

For their project “Mud Frontiers,” Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello use 3D printing and “traditional materials (clay, water, and wheat straw), to push the boundaries of sustainable and ecological construction in a two phase project that explores traditional clay craft at the scale of architecture and pottery.”

[Image: From “Mud Frontiers” by Emerging Objects.]

“To do this,” they explain on their website, “we stepped out of the gallery and into the natural environment by constructing a low-cost, and portable robot, designed to be carried into a site where local soils could be harvested and used immediately to 3D print large scale structures.”

[Image: From “Mud Frontiers” by Emerging Objects.]

Finally—and, again, I would recommend just downloading the books and spending time with each, as I am barely scratching the surface here—we have a very cool project looking at “ice formwork” for concrete, developed by Vasily Sitnikov at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

[Image: Ice formwork for casting concrete, developed by Vasily Sitnikov, as featured in Design Transactions.]

Sitnikov’s method was initially devised as a way to save energy during the concrete-casting and construction process, but quickly revealed its own aesthetic and structural implications: “The variety of programmable functions for ice formwork is vast,” he writes, “across environmental design, programmable lighting conditions, acoustics, ventilation, insulation and structural-design weight-saving applications.”

[Image: Ice formwork for casting concrete, developed by Vasily Sitnikov.]

He has found, for example, that “必威客户端app patterns… can be imposed on concrete, abandoning any use of petrochemicals in the fabrication process. Breaking away from the ‘solid’ image of conventional concrete, the technique of using ice as the formwork material enables the production of mesoscale 必威客户端app structures in concrete which would be impossible to manufacture with existing formwork materials.”

[Image: Ice formwork for casting concrete, developed by Vasily Sitnikov.]

Weaving, carving, cutting, molding: the two new Bartlett books have much, much more, including voluminous detail about each of the projects mentioned briefly above, so click on through and go wild: Design Transactions and FABRICATE 2020.

Arcs, Sets, Circles






[Images: Via the Getty Research Institute].

Thanks to some “newly digitized” versions of the classic Encyclopédie edited by Denis Diderot, Jean le Rond d’Alembert, and Robert Bénard—among others—I stumbled on these beautiful carpentry diagrams, presented here simply for your Monday morning viewing pleasure.

Emerge

[Image: Originally an ad for the Cité de l’Architecture in Paris].

I originally spotted this image a while back via the Tumblr Architectural Models, but it appears actually to have been created as part of an ad campaign for the Cité de l’Architecture in Paris.

Whatever its actual provenance might be, I love the idea of leaving in place the partially excavated backdrop out of which an architectural model emerges, the rough material matrix—be it wood, rock, or 3D-misprinted plastic—whose precise 必威客户端app shaping becomes all the more clear when you can compare a form with its formless origins.

Shelter

[Image: Shelters by LUMO Architects; photo by Jesper Balleby].

These gorgeous timber pods are a series of “asymmetric nature shelters” designed by LUMO Architects for the Danish South Fyn islands.

According to a write-up over on designboom, they function a bit like traditional Japanese moon-viewing platforms: “clad with large wood chips treated with black-pigmented wood tar oil,” we read, “the randomly displaced openings look out and frame the surrounding nature and at night, the lunar orbit across the night sky can be observed.”

[Image: Shelters by LUMO Architects; photo by Jesper Balleby].

It will be interesting to see how they weather and fade over time, of course—and, in the bottommost images seen here, you can already see them transitioning to grey—but, for now, these look spectacular.

[Image: Shelters by LUMO Architects; photo by Jesper Balleby].

The black exterior shell creates a particularly eye-popping juxtaposition with the unstained interior, almost like cracking open a timber geode to reveal a world of light burning inside.

[Image: Shelters by LUMO Architects; photo by Jesper Balleby].

Here’s some more information, from the all-lowercase designboom:

five different volumes have been established, each varying in size and function, while maintaining a consistent 必威客户端app relationship. the asymmetric forms are reminiscent of the various shelter types originating from the traditional huts used by fishermen to store their catch, and thus, influencing the names of each one: ‘monkfish’—containing 3 levels and integrated bird-watching platform; ‘garfish’—a 6-7 person overnight shelter that doubles as picnic space for school classes; ‘lumpfish’—a 3-5 person overnight shelter with stay and sauna space; the ‘flounder’—a 2 person overnight shelter; and finally the ‘eelpout’—which functions as the lavatory.

You can see many of those variant types here, but click through to the architects’ website or to designboom for more.

[Images: Shelters by LUMO Architects; photos by Jesper Balleby].

(Via designboom).