AA Emtech Wood Constructions 2012-13

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Every year The Emergent Technologies and Design Programme investigates architectural design that proceeds from innovative technologies, in order to develop skills and pursue knowledge in design research that is located in new production paradigms. The programme is focused on the concepts and convergent interdisciplinary effects of Emergence on design and production technologies, and on developing these as creative inputs to new architectural design processes. The instruments of analysis and design in Emtech are computational processes as well as rigorous physical and material experimentation. By understanding the performance of material, and allowing it to perform its intrinsic properties, innovative and sustainable methodology of architectural production could be emerged. The Emergent Technologies and Design Programme has engaged in wood and timber composite construction projects from 2008, gaining expertise in designing, organising, and constructing a wide variety of social projects under constrained time and financial budgets. precedents to this field of work commences with the work of Alvar Aalto and Charles Eames in plywood, and the techniques of humidifying, scoring, cutting, bending and laminating to achieve curvature have been established in a variety of disciplines including air plane and boat making. Similar techniques allowed students to understand inherent properties of wood in order to realize variety of innovative construction projects. Through collaboration with some of the world’s leading academic and professional institutions, Emtech has developed a vast knowledge in all aspects of the design-build process allowing the programme, students and collaborators to engage in applied research within the built environment. for more information, visit emtech.aaschool.ac.uk

Emergent Technologies and Design Architectural Association School of Architecture Construction Projects

Carbon Curve

Emergent Technologies and Design 2012-2013

The research and construction of Carbon Curve investigates the opportunities provided by the differentiated material organisation found in natural systems and their application in architecture design using composite structures. By understanding the physical material properties of plywood, the possible curvatures of the global surface are defined and assigned slotting patterns for fabrication.

The invention of a stiffening and joining technique using carbon fibre strips allows for the intelligent assembly and ultimate construction of a continuous yet differentiated performative surface.

The precise geometry of the bending curve emerged out of the distribution of matter, the hierarchy within plywood as composite material and given load conditions.

pop-up cinema Emergent Technologies and Design 2011-2012

Supported by Hackney Community Development, Emtech designed a pop up cinema space to accomodate aproximately 200 people in Gillett Square. London. The proposed canopy defined a programmatic boundary within the square for cinema events.

The canopy comprised three major elements: linear timber elements differentiated 3D printed joints and a fabric membrane. Timber members were simplified and cut by hand, while the geometric complexity was accommodated in the 3D printed joints, made of ABS polymer to bear structural loads.


msc Dissertation Project 2012-2013 Bartek Arendt, Chris Hill, Eleni Meladaki Yung-Yuan Huang And Marina Konstantatou

ETH Pavilion Emergent Technologies and Design 2010-2011

In collaboration with Buro Happold Structural Engineers and ETH Zurich

The AA-ETH pavilion is a temporary light timber construction which has been designed to function as sun shading for parts of the grand stairs in front of the architecture department of the ETH. It is the result of collaboration between the Emergent Technologies and Design program (Emtech) of the Architectural Association (AA), London, and the Chair of Structural Design at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich,

The precise geometry of the bending curve emerged out of the distribution of matter, the hierarchy within plywood as composite material and given load conditions.

expandable surface system geometrically structural plywood surfaces

msc Dissertation project 2010-2011 Jacob Bek, Ignacio Marti, Pablo Zamorano

The Expandable Surface System is a self-supporting structure featuring a dynamic pattern of cut-out slits. Constructed from birch wood, this modular partition stands as a functional wall while letting light into its cut-out elements. The experiments started with paper panels when creating the dynamically designed piece that was later realized in 3D form. The project establishes a direct relationaship between materiality, structure, fabrication and spatial quality.

The project, first protyped for the AA’s Projects Revie, was developed for the SPOGA Furniture Design Exhibition 2011 in Cologne, Germany. The devised design and fabrication method enabled a zerowaste material system without a need for additional formwork. A computational system was utilised in order to generate the required cutting pattern to achieve the desired global curvature.

Bifurcating Emergent Technologies and Design 2009-2010

In collaboration with Buro Happold Structural Engineers, Castanon Associates Architects and ICD Stuttgart


The Bifurcating Bridge was designed to connect No. 16 Morwell Street with the extension of No. 36 Bedford Square to help integrate the work of all the sections of the School.

It was planned to build the bridge from pre-fabricated timber elements, using a laminate from plywood and glass-reinforced plastics. The individual elements were to be CNC-milled and manufactured in a controlled workshop environment.

The pre-fabricated parts, were designed as integral segments of the bridge including handrails, deck and side walls. These individual sections would be fitted together using mechanical as well as glued connections that connect the structural balustrade sections along the entire length of the bridge.

Wave Canopy Emergent Technologies and Design 2008-2009

In collaboration with Buro Happold Structural Engineers

The Wave Canopy was constructed on AA roof terrace which is one of the most publicly used areas in the school. The canopy had to provide partial shelter form the rain, sun and modulate the wind. The size of each wave was limited to the standard sizes of veneer and ply wood panels. The 5 meter long wave strips were fabricated by students from 1.5 mm sheet of plywood with an interlayer of glass fiber and resin.

Physical experiments provided the information on the curvature radii which was achievable by bending thin strips of wood. prior to aplying resin the strips of wood were laid on the gig to make sure the curvature is accurate. they were held in place by clamps until they were dried. Layers of strips were connected mechanically.

The wave canopy has two subsidiary systems: wave-like thin strips of plywood and upright fins that provide connection to the existing columns in the terrace. These fins also provide local stiffness to the strips.

Fingers Crossed

Emergent Technologies and Design 2013-2014 In collaboration with Arup and TRADA Fingers Crossed is design/build research focused on the development of frictionbased plywood structures. Through the investigation of differential material patterns, the project aims to exploit the material properties of plywood by relying on its intrinsic behaviour in bending, while minimising the need for metallic connections. The proposed pavilion is conceived as a material system capable of being constructed and demounted in a day for exhibition at both the London Design Festival 2014 and the Timber Expo 2014.

Total Area: 33.6 m 2 Circulation Area: 15.8 m 2 6.0