Digital Fabrication for Circular Timber Construction: A Case Study

Reisach, Dominik, Stephan Schütz, Jan Willmann, and Sven Schneider. 2024. “Digital Fabrication for Circular Timber Construction: A Case Study.” Circular Economy 1 (2).

The European timber industry has successfully implemented the cascading utilization of wood for several decades, downcycling material resources at the end of each product cycle by turning them into new industrial commodities through additional manufacturing procedures. In its current implementation, this approach is effective in keeping wooden materials in circulation. However, a significant amount of material still reaches the end-of-life stage through incineration prematurely, constituting a considerable waste of valuable resources. Therefore, we propose repurposing low-quality, low-engineered waste wood for architectural applications to avoid unnecessary downcycling processes. Specifically, we suggest a digital design and fabrication method to build tectonic structures using repurposed timber offcuts. As a case study, we present a pavilion structure built at a 1:1 scale, demonstrating the potential of digital technologies for circular timber construction. Based on this case study, we discuss how digital fabrication and material grading can foster a transition towards a circular built environment.