DESIGN & BUILD 2016 – 17

Entwine is the product of the 2017 Design/Build workshop within the Emergent Technologies and Design Programme at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, supported by TRADA, Hanson Plywood and Media 10. The proposed pavilion is derived from extensive research on plywood composite material systems, specifically on the fields of curved plywood tensegrity. The project’s core aim is to explore the relationships in process between material performance, design and fabrication.

The understanding of tensegrity systems and plywood behaviour resulted in the design of three independent doubly-curved plywood structures, coexisting in equilibrium by support from connecting cables. The spatial arrangement consists of three interconnected subspaces characterised by a different material prevalence, permeability, and form with which the visitor can experience and interact.

The three undulating surfaces consist of interwoven 4mm plywood strips, spanning approximately 4 – 6m in length. Each surface is joined by a footing member, designed according to requirements from surfaces structural analysis feedback loop. In order to achieve these unique anticlastic forms, textile weaving techniques were tested. Here, three interlacing sub-plies were woven together to become a single member, and the final surface is composed of two layers of such members. Due to the size of these plies and required stiffness performance, a staggered joinery system of ‘stitches’ was composed between the two layers along points of lowest curvature.

The system presents a structural challenge for which the EmTech team is building upon the use of a wide range of computational design and analysis tools along with the production of prototypes and a 1:1 model. The design to fabrication process includes a feedback loop between an initial parametric model and computational FEA tools to evaluate structural behaviour of proposed surfaces and cable arrangements, which reinform design improvements. Simultaneously plywood prototypes with various weaving logics were tested to achieve surface curvature. Selected material proportions were embedded into an optimisation algorithm within the feedback loop to calibrate final dimensions of CNC milled plywood strips. Strips are then assembled based on model-tested assembly logic.

The systematic methodology of the Design/Build team creates an uninterrupted flow of information between the subgroups of students. Through design, structural analysis, fabrication and planning, an evolving learning environment spawns the fabrication and construction techniques of this pavilion.