Beyond Form Definition: Material Informed Digital Fabrication in Timber Construction

  • David CorreaEmail author
  • Oliver David Krieg
  • AnnaLisa Meyboom
Part of the Lecture Notes in Civil Engineering book series (LNCE, volume 24)


This paper introduces a series of prototypes investigating a new architectural language in wood that is driven by a critical approach to recent technical developments in design, fabrication and material. Although wood is slowly being recognized as an advanced material for future construction due to its high performance and sustainable nature, its differentiated and unpredictable material characteristics have not only been progressively overlooked, but even been viewed as a negative attribute. Wood’s varied dimensional range has been addressed through standardization, its heterogeneous fiber structure ground and reconstituted into homogeneous composites, and finally its complex aesthetic quality has even been caricaturized into a skin-deep plastic-wood veneer texture. This paper seeks to extend research on the implications of advanced robotic fabrication and its integration into design processes that also integrate cross-disciplinary knowledge into architectural software. As innovation in technology enables architects and engineers to engage with the complexities of the material, the potential of wood is becoming accessible, leading to a new material language. Through a series of full scale, robotically fabricated design prototypes, the material performance of wood is investigated as a driver for form; its fabrication and hygroscopic performance as a driver for assembly, and more importantly, the entire design-to-fabrication-process as a method for investigation into innovation and the structural and architectural potential of future wood.


Robotic fabrication Computational design Material computation Elastic bending Timber structures Complex surfaces Wood joints 



The workshops presented in this paper were organized and supported by the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing, as well as the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of British Columbia. Funding was provided by the Forestry Innovation Investment, Perkins+Will Vancouver, Perkins+Will Building Technology Lab, and the UBC SEEDS Sustainability Program.

The authors would like to express their gratitude to Iain MacDonald, Jason Chiu and Jörn Dettmer from the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing, as well as Dean Gregory from the UBC Campus and Community Planning, and David Gill from the SEEDS Sustainability Program. Further, the authors would like to thank all the participants of both workshops without whom the results would not have been that successful.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Correa
    • 1
    Email author
  • Oliver David Krieg
    • 2
  • AnnaLisa Meyboom
    • 3
  1. 1.School of ArchitectureUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Institute for Computational Design and ConstructionUniversity of StuttgartStuttgartGermany
  3. 3.School of Architecture and Landscape ArchitectureUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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