Reframing wood construction : innovation in architecture through activating material properties with the use of digital technologies
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Reframing Wood Construction. Innovation in architecture through activating material properties with the use of digital technologies. This thesis focuses on the relationships between material-centred design, digital technologies and environmentally-responsible practice with respect to wood construction. It argues that computational design methods and digital manufacturing have the capacity to reframe wood construction, open new opportunities for design, and lead to more sustainable practices. Wood is the building material that frames this research. The long tradition of using wood in construction and its cultural connotations, as well as its heterogeneous structure and its often-unpredictable behaviour, make it a case in point for material-centred design. Today, the predominant approach to wood construction is adaptation to industrialised processes that suppress individual material properties. The thesis proposes to reframe wood construction in order to offer an alternative design method that uses material properties and behaviours as valid design factors. The monograph comprises two main parts: (i) Experiments, and (ii) Perspectives. (i) The first part describes three experimental projects with wood in which inherent material properties and material behaviours are used as a starting point, and computational design techniques and digital fabrication are the main methods. (ii) The second part theorises the approach presented in the experiments. It comprises three perspectives: (1) design methodology that outlines the proposed framework of innovation in wood architecture, (2) design theory that positions the proposed approach within discussion surrounding relationships of form and matter in the history and theory of architecture, and (3) design and technology that discusses the development of technology related to wood architecture and its impact on design and construction. Together, the three perspectives form a discussion of the approach to reframing wood construction. The ultimate goal of the thesis is to reorient architecture towards sustainable construction methods. The thesis identifies that digital technologies have not yet embraced materiality and that digital advances in architecture provide an opportunity for including material parameters as valid design factors. This thesis proposes that digital technologies have the potential to access various latent and palpable potentialities of the material that can deliver design solutions with lower environmental impact.