A Design-to-Fabrication Workflow for Free-Form Timber Structures Using Offcuts

Reisach, Dominik, Stephan Schütz, Jan Willmann, und Sven Schneider. 2023. «A Design-to-Fabrication Workflow for Free-Form Timber Structures Using Offcuts». In Computer-Aided Architectural Design. INTERCONNECTIONS: Co-Computing Beyond Boundaries. CAAD Futures 2023, herausgegeben von Michela Turrin, Charalampos Andriotis, und Azarakhsh Rafiee, 1819:361–75. Communications in Computer and Information Science. Cham: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-37189-9_24.

Currently, the timber industry in the European Union incinerates up to 80% of its waste wood, releasing its embodied CO2 into the atmosphere while producing energy. This practice also affects offcuts, a waste material from structural timber production, mostly because of aesthetic imperfections. However, there are potential architectural use cases for this material that extend its lifetime beyond downcycling. Therefore, we propose to employ these offcuts as load-bearing elements of free-form timber structures and present an integral design-to-fabrication workflow suitable for this task. In this paper, we discuss the underlying method in detail, specifically (1) the computational design process to optimally place timber offcuts and to compute wood joints, (2) the transfer of design data into a robotic fabrication process, and (3) the integration of these findings into a unifying design-to-fabrication workflow and its architectural implications. This process minimizes material waste and facilitates the design and buildup of offcuts into structural configurations, including their dis- and reassembly. The resulting timber morphologies consist of non-standard material aggregated under digital guidance, giving them a distinct aesthetic expression. A series of digital experiments demonstrated the capabilities of the conceived method. Finally, we prove the feasibility of the proposed workflow with the design and robotic fabrication of a full-scale Offcut Demonstrator under real-world conditions.