A Generative Design Tool for Next Generation Timber Surface Architecture
Th is thesis project addresses the contradictory relationship between the ecological merits of wood construction and the significant material intensity of recent free form timber surface structures. The building industry is now adept in the design and construction of freeform surface architecture, however new challenges have been introduced with the environmentally conscious desire to build these structures in wood. Lacking the formal versatility of steel and concrete, wood introduces a great deal of difficulty in the realization of complex form at an architectural scale. Powerful digital tools have recently made it possible to construct these buildings, but at the cost of heavy structural solutions and significant material waste resulting from subtractive fabrication processes.
This approach contradicts the ecological benefits of wood, and raises the question of whether it is possible to achieve free and expressive form in timber surface architecture while maintaining an economy of means and material. Th is question is addressed through the development of a generative design tool for the creation of material conscious free form timber surface architecture. The tool consists of a generative algorithm that integrates material, structure and form in a single computational process. Specific material saving techniques deployed in the algorithm draw from existing research in timber shell design and material optimization. Established methods in the use of geodesic lines for the structural patterning of wood shells and stress driven material distribution make up the core concepts deployed in the algorithm. Th e material system is developed, refined and tested through the design and construction of an experimental free form timber lattice.