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Autonomous Timber Structures

Domaine de Boisbuchet, Diego Delgado

Flexible prototypes from the future.


This video is part of a series on the Domaine de Boisbuchet’s workshops. The Domaine de Boisbuchet is an international center for design, architecture and applied arts, in the southwest of France founded in 1989. Find more videos following the tag #Boisbuchet.

Set in the beautiful Domaine de Boisbuchet in Lessac (France), "Autonomous Timber Structures" is a workshop guided by Dylan Wood (US) and Achim Menges (Germany), run in August 2018.
The main aim of the 7-days long experience was to introduce participants to the concept of material robotics and self-forming constructions, as to explore new types of structures and skins that work elegantly and intelligently with the forces of nature.
Here students designed, crafted, and choreographed the behavior of prototypes using stimulus-driven shape-changing and accessible building materials such as wood.
This project was made possible by employing 'smart' materials in place of heavy energy-intensive construction machinery and building equipment.

Founding director of the Institute for Computational Design, Achim Menges' research and practice focuses on the development of integrative design processes at the intersection of morphogenetic design computation, biomimetic engineering and digital fabrication.
Dylan Wood is one of his PhD candidates and research associate. At ICD - the institution that developed such techniques - he leads the research in programmable materials and matter. His work focuses on developing intelligent design principles for smart shape-changing materials as a form of material robotics that can be applied in building systems, construction, and manufacturing.

The video, shot by Diego Delgado and Alex Harrison, starts with some mock-ups of the future Autonomous Timber Structures: a piece of paper or maybe of some very light wood, carved and rolled upon itself. Then we see the team of participants working together, discussing, designing, molding wood, pasting and cutting the material in order to create prototypes of the future structure, to learn and program their future behavior.

When the structure is ready, we see how flexible and light it looks. The students parade in front of the gorgeous castle of the Domaine de Boisbuchet carrying the product of their work in their hand: how fragile and how bendable the shell looks in comparison to the castle! They leave it on the lawn and voilà! the shell comes to life. The 1:1 prototype for the responsive skin of the structure is ready.

(Story by Sara Marzullo, The Architecture Player)

Authors icon Credits

Director:Alex Harrison
Architects: Dylan Wood and Achim Menges
Mentioned project: Autonomous Timber Structures (2018)
Project location: Domaine de Boisbuchet, Lessac, France
Participants: Anna-Andrea Obe-Gervais, Mohamed Shehata, Salvatore Polverino, Selin Miskavi, Deniz Tokman, Peng Chun-Lin, Asha Kiran Singhal, Chang Yu-Ching, Yuchi Chang, Bogdan Dragos Munteanu, Iris Pufe, Angela Roetzer, Sebastián Arturo Drexel Kalife, Chang Yao-Chen, Chen Kaiting
Technical Team: Carlos Guisasola Suarez, Félix Panis-Jones, Viktor Reiter, Maximiliam Weidacher

France 2018
Duration: 2'39"