Mono-Material Wood Wall
Digital Fabrication of Performative Wood Envelopes
Keywords:Computational Design, timber, digital fabrication, layer-reduced construction, wood, façade, envelope
The project seeks to create a building envelope that functions as structure, enclosure, and insulation,
which is assembled from one solid timber construction element type. Wood has clear environmental
benefits when compared to other standard construction materials such as steel and concrete, a good
strength-to-weight ratio, relatively high thermal insulation, and low production costs. This research
seeks to leverage these characteristics to simultaneously reduce the number of material layers in
timber building envelopes while improving the building physics performance. Thus, the environmental
impact of buildings can be reduced during planning, construction, operation, and disposal. The project
proposes a system that reduces material layers and improves envelope performance by combining
contemporary fabrication technologies with traditional woodworking techniques. Design tools should
allow for compelling formal opportunities and facilitate fabrication and construction. The system
manifests as a free-form, curvilinear log-cabin. Solid timber beams are used to minimise binders and
fillers found in composite wood products, and the entire primary construction is achieved with pure
wood joinery. CNC machining allows for the precise joining of members to achieve robust, easy-toassemble, structural and airtight façades. By sawing deep slits into solid timber beams, the resulting air
chambers improve thermal insulation values up to 30% compared to comparable solid wood assemblies
while also relieving naturally occurring internal stresses. Computational design algorithms generate
toolpaths and construction data directly from simple input curves, enabling direct coordination of
architects, engineers, and contractors. To evaluate the system, multiple prototypes are fabricated to
test constructability, thermal conductance, and airtightness, including a demonstrator building to test
full-scale implementation. Laboratory tests and the successful completion of the IBA: Timber Prototype
House demonstrate the potential for this renewable material to fulfil the requirements of contemporary
building envelopes and open the door for the development of all-wood multi-storey façades.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Oliver Bucklin, Achim Menges, Oliver Krieg, Hans Drexler, Angela Rohr, felix Amtsberg
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