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Pattern-dominant Bending Tectonics
Fall 2019
Selected Project
Tianqi Chu, Jingyao Zhang, Xinyi Xia.

Pattern-dominant Bending Tectonics


“Pattern-dominant Bending Tectonics” investigates the physical and mechanical properties of wood in combination with computational simulation to explore multiscale spatial forms in a freeform, self-standing installation. The connection between physical experimentation and computational design was key in this project.

Program Development

The design and assembly of 1/8’’ birch plywood segments were inspired by two-dimensional patterns. Bristol board, which has similar physical properties to plywood, was used as an experimental prototype to test a variety of cutting patterns. The resulting geometry deformations were used in the research and fabrication of the designed wood module.

The computational design tool developed in this project enabled the inclusion of material characteristics and fabrication parameters in the design process. Rather than analyzing the wood prototype manually, the geometries of each individual module were incorporated into a simulation and optimization process for computational control. One key focus was the digital chain from the overall design to the structural analysis and fabrication. Wood modules on two freeform facades and their connecting structures were formed using Kangaroo and Circle Packing in Grasshopper. These generated 182 geometrically distinct birch plywood plates for this self-standing installation.

The development, design, and fabrication of Pattern-dominant Bending Tectonics demonstrated the connection between physical experiments and computational design and simulation. When generating three-dimensional forms from two dimensions, optimized patterns cut into the wood help bend and buckle the thin wooden plates. They also help harness connections between multiple layers in both the constructional and computational processes, which in turn enable the exploration of multiscale spatial forms in the final global design.

Author and Image Credit

Tianqi Chu, Jingyao Zhang, Xinyi Xia.


Ehsan Baharlou