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Wood Proto-architecture III
Fall 2020
University of Virginia
ARCH 4010-11 / ALAR 8010: Research Studio
Ehsan Baharlou, Dr.-Ing.

Wood Proto-architecture III: 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.”

— Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari


The advanced research studio “Wood Proto-architecture 3.0,” will investigate the generative potential of material systems and fabrication processes in architecture. This studio will explore collaborative design principles for a specific fabrication and construction process, which was studied and developed in the context of the research studios “Wood Proto-architecture 1.0 and 2.0,” through prototyping scaled installations. The aim of this research studio is to develop [Augmented] robotic fabrication to construct experimental timber structures at the school of architecture.

The studio will introduce students to the concept of integrative design computation in architecture. This concept is three-fold: exploring material systems, developing computational design tool, and investigating related fabrication tools. The proposed material system is wood as an anisotropic material with high-performance and adaptation. One challenge of this studio will be the development of a computational framework to integrate material characteristics with related fabrication processes into a design computation method. In addition to exploring material system this research studio will investigate advanced fabrication processes such as robotic fabrication, as a generative driver in design processes. Students will collaborate in fabrication and assembly processes through Mixed reality (MR) technologies, such as Microsoft HoloLens headset to apply their design intention in real-time.

Students will explore a design space, as a parametric space, through a generative design tool to geometrically differentiate and parameterize timber wood structures (such as wood joinery systems). The design explorations are constrained to the fabrication space and material characteristics. The process of form generation in a parametric design space is concurrent with robotic/CNC fabrication of small-scale prototypes. In addition, students will analyze the structural behavior of their prototypes to feed back the simulation results into their design. Prototyping scaled model will help students to understand the process of constructing a one-to-one demonstrator.

Students can work in groups of three. They will be needed to actively take part in design development, fabrication, assembly, and documentation of the project during the fall semester.

This studio includes three workshops: 1) computational design workshop, which will discuss about integrative computational tools, such as Autodesk Fusion 360 to sketch, design, simulate and manufacture a design concept; 2) robotic 3d printing workshop, which will introduce advanced robotic controls to explore the experimental robotic fabrication in design; and 3) Mixed reality workshop, which will introduce the HoloLens Headset to integrate design, fabrication and assembly of final installation through mixed reality technologies.

Selected Project

Robotic Serpentine Wall | Developed by: Leah Kirssin, Bay Penny, Trenton Rhodes

Image Credit

­­O. Cleary, A. Roletter, E. Fentress, University of Virginia, 2019.