The Future of Wood and Architectural Education

Since recent advances in wood engineering, the drive to reduce the construction’s embodied carbon has led to increased interest in mass timber. Growing demand for wood products has driven the transformation of pulp mills into mills for bioproducts— factories that use trees in a holistic way for a variety of industries, including textiles and packaging. The selection of wood products and manufacturing processes available today is enormous and therefore calls for more analysis and innovative experiments by architects, architecture firms and designers

A notable example is the Wood Future Project, Partly backed by an American The research questioned the 5th year of B.Arch as a grant for forestry and communities. Students are exploring the use of three and five axles CNC milling, 3D printing, and other technologies to develop new architectural and engineering wood manufacturing methods

Although timber-focused design-build work is popular in academia, the Future of Wood works specifically on fine wood fragments as a raw raw material for new material constructions. By operating with wood flour, sawdust and various adhesives and additives, the students developed their first engineered wood goods successfully— and then designed architectural structures with them

It was a messy, time-consuming, nonlinear and unpredictable operation, as planned. Intentionally he left the workshop curriculum open and claimed that a feedback circuit from the Workshop allows us to decide new ideas for experimentation and we constantly question the essence of the printed and/or melted formal structures and how they could be transformed into a more comprehensive architecture.
As students experimented with mixtures composed of wood flour, wood hardener, baking flour, epoxy resin, polyvinyl acetate glue, and water, one line of material inquiry emerged with an emphasis on cast composites. A team was formed around the task of creating large cast modules with ample structural strength, physical integrity and a consistent appearance for use in building a small pavilion. At first, the students created mixes with 50 percent wood flour but later determined that with the incorporation of two-part epoxy resin, they could increase the proportion to 80 percent–a combination that produced the most robust panels they tested. Further, the team has established the highly formable character of the wood composite, using the various profiles and curvatures. The students used chicken wire between layers to minimize cracking during the casting process. Although the goal was to formulate a mortise-and-tenon joint technique to create an autonomous structure, the team eventually found that the overall shape is too complex and the joints are too tenuous. They then designed an internal wood framework for a further structure.

Many students tested a range of slurries to explore the possibilities of 3D printed wood using a 3-Potterbot Scara, a printer designed for the additive manufacturing of ceramics. Original mixtures included wood flour, baking flour, and PVA glue in equal parts; additional samples included wood filler, joint cement, epoxy resins, linseed oil, and tree sap rosin. After extensive testing resulting in an assortment of stratified objects, the team prioritized the manufacture of a “block” skeleton constructed from intersecting material lines. The final modules consisted of a wood flour of up to 55 percent (higher amounts would dry out or clog the 3D printer), epoxy resin, PVA glue, baking flour and water. The students also constructed a tripod frame pavilion using the modules in order to determine whether tiles could be drawn over curved shape to increase structural rigidity. The innovative plan included designing strong interpanel joints that were solved by the students using string and animal hide glue, and the availability of plywooden footings in the columns.

Yet these risks resulted in significant rewards. The students gained tremendously from a crash course in materials science, rigorous and frequent interrogations of the concepts of beauty and craft, learning to work effectively in large groups, and—perhaps most importantly—the experience of developing a methodology to address unanswered questions, with uncertain outcomes.
But these risks have brought substantial benefits. The students achieved considerable results from a crash course in the science of materials, detailed and regular questions about the principles of beauty and design, learning to function effectively in large groups and – most notably, perhaps-developing a framework for answering issues with unanswered outcomes.

Pedagogical advantages aside, how is this important to wood’s future? The arc of engineered composite wood technology indicates ever higher levels of processing and testing, especially given the wood’s carbon sequestration capability. Ideally, these composites should avoid epoxy in favor of a non-toxic, bio-based adhesive, allowing the products to biodegrade safely with more minimal adverse environmental effects at the end of their useful lives. Given the variety of high-performance, wooden flour-composite products available today, a particularly attractive solution for the use of industrial waste (for instance, sawdust) as well as other biomaterials that are discarded, for example, rice husks or deteriorated paper products. The main contribution of the studio in this future research field is to demonstrate that the weakest and the least desirable feedstock can produce well designed, robust structures.

2020-01-22T05:14:41+00:00