Advanced Timber Concepts and the Design of Furniture and Structures

  • Patrick BealeEmail author
  • Tristan Morgan
Part of the Lecture Notes in Civil Engineering book series (LNCE, volume 24)


Since 2006, the Advanced Timber Concepts Research Centre (ATC) has pursued the development of innovative approaches to designing with timber across a variety of scales. Through teaching-based research and applied research within a professional context, the research group has engaged in cutting-edge practice uniquely relevant to Australian timber culture, whilst engaging with digital wood design in a global context. Projects undertaken since 2006 include a ten-year project running an intensive furniture design course at the University that focused on re-imagining the role of low-value timber within fine-furniture making, employing traditional techniques along-side cutting edge digital fabrication and computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) processes. Concurrently, a pair of prototypical flat-pack timber houses emerging from teaching programmes were designed, developed, and built, alongside several other prototypical timber structures and assembly systems initiated within academic teaching and developed by the research centre and the professional studio—ATC Studio. These include a third prototype house, an experimental permanent large-span timber shell structure, a continuing five-installment advanced computational design and manufacturing design-and-build teaching program, and a currently under-construction sports hall and community centre. Through these projects, we have engaged with the use of timber as a vibrant material that possesses active properties that can be employed productively within the design process. Further, advanced digital processes such as computational design, simulation, analysis, form-finding, evolutionary solving, and CNC manufacturing, uncover the opportunity to explore the nature of the relationship between designer and material by way of the digital. We increasingly understand that the design of computational processes leads to a condition of ‘dual-authorship’, where the designer is both responsible for the process and the computed result. Add to that the active role of a natural material such as timber, and we now encounter a third author—the forest—which may begin to approach the achievement of a truly holistic, sustainable architecture that considers its environmental impacts in an active and performative manner from the outset.


Fabrication Prefabrication Furniture Digital design Computational design Material properties 



Members of the ATC, 2006—Present: Gary Marinko (Director), Tobias Beale, Daniel Bubnich, Robyn Diggins, Gwinyai Dzinotyiweyi, Mannchee Mishelle, Tara Moore, Shannon Stanwell, Domenic Trimboli, Harry Reynoldson, Ian Weir.

Narrogin Joinery: Stan Samulkiewicz, Michael Samulkiewicz.

Gridshell Experiment and GenFab 2012 Students.

GenFab 2013 Students: Tobias Beale, Henry Beeck, Abby Chittick, Ian Dodson, Eliza Langham, Chia Lee, Mark McKenna, Michael Warr, Steven Wong.

GenFab 2015 Students: Maeda Bahremand, Thomas Ffoulkes, Luke Geiles, Daniele Giuffre, Mitchell Hender, Rui Hou, Geok Sing Khor, Kah Wai Leong, Xunyi Luo, Ashley Mutton, Luke Myers, Veng Fei Ong, James Palmer, Simon Sawyer, Rui Tan, Jacob Turner, Zachary Wood, Hao Zhang.

GenFab 2017 Students: Jack Bradshaw, Hazem Halasa, Mark La Riviere, Jovin Lim, Shin Low, David Smith, Michele Stambulich, Shamisa Tahery Darestany, Trevor Wong.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of Western Australia and Advanced Timber Design Research CentrePerthAustralia
  2. 2.The University of Western Australia and Cox ArchitecturePerthAustralia

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