Experimenting with wooden structures using digital manufacturing methods

The Aalto University multi-disciplinary Design+Analysis Workshop - Radical Wood Pavilion began in February 2012 as part of a larger project organized by the Departments of Civil and Structural Engineering, Design and Architecture. The project started when Eero Lundén and Markus Wikar, a student of architecture, proposed to build a pavilion for Radical Design Week Shanghai. The proposal was met with enthusiasm from event organizers and the pavilion was erected in Shanghai at the end of October 2012.

Location: Shanghai, China

Program: Pavilion 100m2

Status: Multi-disciplinary project 2012

Client: Radical Design Week Shanghai, Aalto University

Team: Eero Lundén, Markus Wikar

The goal of the project was to study and teach the use of digital design and analysis methods in architecture, design and structural engineering as well as the utilization of novel materials and computer-controlled manufacturing methods. The Radical Wood Pavilion, RWP, aimed to develop new innovative structural and architectural solutions, especially for wooden construction. In addition, it focused on the utilization of digital design and analysis methods as well as computer-controlled manufacturing processes. The idea sought to deepen the collaboration between architects, designers and structural engineers through new working methods.

To achieve a structurally and architecturally light appearance, plywood was chosen as the building material. It proved to be a structurally challenging, but also versatile material; the flexibility of thin plywood lent itself to twisting structural components that gave rigidity to the whole structure. Plywood also played an important role in the architecture of the pavilion: Twisting and bending structural elements created both the basic form of the structure as well as many of the components’ details. The arched form of the pavilion existed from the beginning.

The final structure and elements, such as the twisting of the wooden strips, took shape during a multi-disciplinary design process that involved brainstorming, literature reviews, testing different shapes on design software, building and testing physical models, and computational analysis of components and their experimental testing. The collaborative process resulted in unique architectural and structural solutions.

The core team consisted of teaching researcher Jarkko Niiranen, architect Eero Lundén, student of architecture, Markus Wikar, as well as students: Ron Asholm, Marko Hämäläinen, Matti Pirinen, Arttu Kaukonen and Matti Kankkunen. Professor Hannu Hirsi from Department of Architecture and Professor Jouko Järvisalo from Department of Design acted as advisors. Jouni Berg, Kristian Karell, Päivi Lipponen, Sami Lönnroth, Essi Similä, Antti Sironen and Joona Tuikka, students of the Design+Analysis Workshop 2012 participated in the project.

The Radical Wood Pavilion aims to develop innovative, structural and architectural solutions for wooden constructions.