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Wood Proto-architecture II
Fall 2019
University of Virginia
ARCH 4010-11 / ALAR 8010: Research Studio
Ehsan Baharlou, Dr.-Ing.

Wood Proto-architecture II: Integrating Design Computation and Materialization

“It is a question of surrendering to the wood, then following where it leads by connecting operations to a materiality, instead of imposing a form upon a matter.”

— A Thousand Plateaus, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari


The research studio “Wood Proto-architecture II” investigated the generative potential of material systems and fabrication processes in architecture. This studio aimed to explore integrative design computation, which unfolds specific material gestalt and related performative capacities without differentiating between processes of computational form generation and physical materialization. This studio will focus on the design and construction of research installations at the School of Architecture. Following “Wood Proto-architecture I” offered in Fall 2018, students will continue to explore wood material properties and digital fabrication processes to prototype scaled installations.

The studio introduced students to the concept of integrative design computation in architecture. This concept is two-fold: developing material systems and exploring related fabrication tools. The proposed material system is wood, a material with high performance and adaptation. Students investigated the anisotropic and hygroscopic nature of wood to understand tectonic potentials of wood morphology in design processes. Concurrent with developing material systems, students explored the potential of digital fabrication tools, such as robotic fabrication and CNC routing, as generative drivers in design processes.

Synthesizing these two agencies was further explored by developing a computational design framework to minimize the gap between formation and materialization. To achieve this, students developed computational design strategies and conducted a series of small-scale experiments. Students then applied the refined version of their experiments to prototyping a meso-scale installation.

This studio was supported by the elective course “Behavioral Robotic Fabrication,” which introduced students to fabrication agency in the design processes.

Selected Project

Hygrosensitive Kinetic Façade | Developed by: Mingyue Nan, Zhenfang Chen, Liwei Liu, 2019.

Image Credit

Y. Fong, K. Gordon, N. Grimes, M. Ye, University of Virginia, 2018.