Non-orthogonal Light Timber Frame Design: Using Digital Manufacturing Technologies to Facilitate Circular Economy Architecture

  • Gerard FinchEmail author
  • Guy Marriage
Part of the Lecture Notes in Civil Engineering book series (LNCE, volume 24)


Orthogonal structural timber framing is the predominant method for building low density residential buildings in a large proportion of developed countries. Today this framing system is highly refined to be economically advantageous—making use of low-value and widely available materials. However, this construction product largely ignores the emerging ‘Circular Economy’ (CE) sustainability agenda. At the end of a buildings life, and when deconstruction is attempted, most materials integrated into an orthogonal frame are irreversibly damaged. Furthermore, deconstruction is time consuming and yields very few valuable materials. Thus, this research questions the suitability of conventional framing methods to achieve true life-cycle sustainability and suggests a series of radical non-orthogonal solutions in response. These solutions are centered around maximizing the recovery of all materials attached to (and located in) the structural frame at the end of a buildings life. Non-orthogonal frames are the superior solution as they are generally inherently resistant to lateral loads and can be dynamically modulated to fit within many different building conditions. The research uses computer-aided fabrication technology to integrate jointing and assembly conditions in the non-orthogonal timber frame geometry that substantially speeds up end-of-life deconstruction.


Sustainable design Non-orthogonal structure Circular economy construction Timber frame 



The authors acknowledge the generous support of the New Zealand Institute of Building’s Charitable Trust, Carter Holt Harvey Limited, Makers of Architecture and Victoria University of Wellington in facilitating the fabrication and testing of non-orthogonal structural solutions. This work was funded in part by the Building Research Levy.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Victoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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