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IMAGINARY FOLKLORE Aiste Ambrazeviciute

Imaginary Folklore - where the word “folk” means people and “lore”- tradition and heritage, is a synthesis of a traditional culture with a new global environment. Recreating Landscape - introduces the architectonic programme in process.

landscape model photo


Geographical position and abundance of forests have determined the spread of wood as the main building material of Lithuania in 20th century. Therefore, Lithuania holds a rich collection of woodenware and reminiscences of wooden architecture with the outstanding ornamentation. Due to industrialization and standardized building products, material’s innate characteristics and inherent heterogeneity remain largely neglected and unexplored. Assembly lines caused a world made of parts, framing the imagination to think about the objects as assemblies of discrete parts with distinct functions. But there are no homogenous material assemblies in nature. We enter an age of digital fabrication, with compound wood materials allowing for reliable properties and milling technology enabling complete manipulation of solid wood. The project’s design is based on the complex wood anatomy and material investigation, combining various scales and parts of wood, which enabled to discover new unseen forms out of wood. The goal of the project is to rediscover the wooden architecture and to introduce design parameters proposing etnographic environment that speaks truly of its birthplace and the future.


spread of wooden architecture in Kaunas

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LITHUANIAN WOODEN ARCHITECTURE The project started with my interest in the ethnographic heritage of Lithuania, particularly in local crafts- wooden architecture and arts. Geographical position and abundance of forests have determined the spread of wood as the main building material. Therefore, Lithuania holds a rich collection of wooden ware and reminiscences of wooden architecture with the outstanding artistic ornamentation. Visual language illustrates the cultural heritage of the place, where the common intuitive character was to express the close relation to the natural environment. The ornaments were blurring the borders between the inside and outside, which was the prime local desire. The cult of nature was always an identity feature in arts.

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lithuanian folk architecture

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PROGRAM PRIVATE - RURAL Domestic wooden architecture was the most spread around the country in the 20th century in the rural areas. In the main cities, wooden architecture is usually located in the industrial districts, near the railway stations and factories. The more decorated houses belonged to the higher position citizens. In the rural areas, the houses were scattered by the natural setting together with the ensemble of other rural facility buildings and had similar organisation principles around the country.

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Apart from the domestic wooden architecture, a specific typology of recreational architecture emerged. The golden age of resort architecture is considered to be 19-20th centuries, this was especially quiet period, favorable to the establishment of resorts. Cure houses and sanatoriums with its seasonal entertaining facilities were considered as non-canonized creative architectural works. Diversity of resort architecture was supplemented with the local ethnographic traditions. Celebrating the natural resources, they were the main public buildings out of wood.

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recreational architecture in Lithuania

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water tower, balneological resort, Druskininkai (LT) (destroyed)

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entrance, balneological resort, Druskininkai (LT) (destroyed)

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plans of Kaunas “Garden� public space 1925; kiosk, pavilion, stage

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PROGRAM DECORATIVE Decorative wooden architecture was common during the interwar period, which was the most independent and creative period in local architecture, when developed the so called national style, influenced by the folk architecture, but forgotten during the occupation years. City’s public spaces with it’s entertaining seasonal facilities, wooden pavilions and small architecture were designed entirely from wood.

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wind board ornament

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ORNAMENTATION Wooden ornamentation is found in a various scales and parts of architectural elements that created the surrounding environment of local entrepreneurs. Window boards, moldings, doors, roof construction, shutters, columns, fences- all ornamented. From domestic house, beehives to the cutlery. All details complemented each other. Architecture and arts were merging together the same as nature with architecture. The cult of nature was always very strong local indentity feature in cultural heritage.

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small architecture - wooden crucifix

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small architecture - wooden beehive

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lithuanian landscape

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roof construction ornament

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VALUES AND CONFLICTS INDUSTRIALISATION VS. CRAFTSMANSHIP This poetic heritage lost its sensibility during the historical breakdown. After the 2nd WW everything underwent dramatic changes. Rapid modernization made a remarkable impact for the local architecture tradition. This historical moment was confusing the cultural values. More and more wooden buildings were sat on fire, abandoned or destroyed. The cultural wooden heritage as well as local identity became just a history and remained forgotten. The world of design has been ruled by manufacturing and mass production. Assembly lines were causing a world made of parts, making the borders for the imagination of designers and architects. Each object was understood as assemblies of discrete parts with distinct functions.

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abandoned wooden architecture

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computational wood design by Achim Menges

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DIGITAL FABRICATION Recently architecture has experienced an extraordinary increase of technological possibilities for advancing architectural design. Nevertheless, the impact of technology has left some great aspects of design largely unchallenged. Computer Aided Design (CAD) and algorithmic Computational Design contributes largely in employing the computer’s capacity to broaden the knowledge and instrumentalize wood’s complex behavior.

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“why must everywhere be like everywhere else?�

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UNIVERSAL REGIONALISM Universal regionalism means a global culture in which material logics create regions rather than the other way around. Tourism today is integrated in cultural forces as well. Our task today is not to resist the global, but to seek the most creative ways to develop the richer regions within it. Therefore, not a mixture that erases difference, but instead a compound which enables to create a new kind of difference.

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INSPIRATION INTERDISCIPLINARY EXCHANGE The source of inspiration how to interpret the traditional identity aspects can be found in other media as music, fashion design or food. I admire the Scandinavian kitchen that made a reform in food industry, by presenting the interpretation of traditional Nordic food in a very surprising way. By acknowledging geography, climate and the landscape they created a vision that speak truly of its birthplace and the future. Material related aspects are widely found in biology science. I used the reasearch of the wood on the microscopic level according to scientific data.

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innovative approach to traditional food, Noma, Copenhagen

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‘Riverbed’, O. Eliasson, Lousiana Museum, Denmark

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REFERENCES Blurring the boundaries between the Natural and the Manmade into one unity is the work of the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. Recreating an enormous and sophisticated landscape, complete with riverbed and rocky earth, the artist uses the inspiration from this unique location of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art’s with a powerful character that extends into the buildinga and transforms into a work of art. Eliasson’s work questions the meaning and experience of the museum itself, and the relationship between the artist, building, and viewer.

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REFERENCES Wood is no longer considered as nostalgic and rooted in the past, but increasingly recognized as one of the most promising building materials for the future. During the recent years unprecedented innovation of the new technologies for advancing wood architecture has been detected. The work of Achim Menges explores an alternative and new approach to design that unfolds inherent material’s complexity without differentiating between formation and materialization processes. Form, material and structure should be understood not as separate aspects, but as complex combinations that are embedded in and explored through computational processes.

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Experimental Structure : Research Pavilion, A. Menges, 2011

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HygroSkin – Meteorosensitive Pavilion, A. Menges

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HygroSkin – Meteorosensitive Pavilion, A. Menges

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similarieties of different wood scales

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ANALYSIS WOOD SCALES Similar structures are multiplicated in nature in different scales. For instance, trees are diverse in height, from 4 to 40 meters. Trees rhizosphere, root system, shares similarities with tree moss branching. The bark is constructed out of many plates as well as cell walls. Every unit starts from cell, providing information of growth. Wood is such an intricate natural material that is rich of inherent features starting on the microscopic level. It is essential to analyze and understand the materials capabilities in all the scales to be able to uncover brand new material behaviors and design possibilities.

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tree moss

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tree tops

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microscopic view of moss

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microscopic view of moss

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microscopic view of charred wood

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microscopic view of charred wood

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low tree layer

vertical layer shrub layer soil surface herbaceous rhizosphere

7 layers of forest garden

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Every forest in the world has a minimum of seven layers. These layers enable many different types of plants and animals to live in a small area. Every layer provides different environmental features that are related to the certain users. Such an organization allows us to design the natural chaos artificially.

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tree parts

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There are no homogenous material assemblies in the nature. The first fruit tree had no differentiation between the roots, trunk, branches, leaves and fruit. The entire tree was a fruit. Every part of the tree has an inherent features that functions as one organism. It is important to understand the fuction of every single part to be able to use its innate material characteristics.

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tree moss

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tree rhizome

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low vessel layer

vertical layer

soil layer

shrub layer



structure parts

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compound wood

oak wood

charred pine wood

larch wood

beech wood

pine wood

vessel parts

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heartwood resin pith



annual rings

parenchyma phloem

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Wood is differentiated by two main parts: heartwood and sapwood. Heartwood is a part, which is more resistant to decay because of a naturally chemical transformations. Heartwood is formed naturally. When heartwood formation is complete, the heartwood is dead. It is usually visually different from the sapwood, and can be distinguished in a cross-section where the boundary usually follows the growth rings and it is much darker. Sapwood is the younger, outermost wood. In the growing tree it is living wood, and its main functions are to transport water from the roots to the leaves and to store up and give away the reserves prepared in the leaves according to the season. All the wood in a tree is first formed as sapwood. The more leaves a tree produces, the larger the volume of sapwood required.

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heartwood is dead and often darker

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sapwood contains cells and transports water

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wood types

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ANATOMY WOOD TYPES Wood is classified to softwood or hardwood. The wood from conifers is called softwood, and the wood which is usually broad-leaved is called hardwood. There is a strong relationship between the properties of wood and the particular tree that produced it. The density of wood varies with species and it relates to its strength. The color of wood is not indicating the strength. In coniferous or softwood species the wood cells are mostly of one kind, tracheids, and therefore the material is more uniform in structure, providing most of the structural support in softwoods. The structure of hardwoods happened to be more complex. The water transport system is taken care by vessels: in some trees these are quite large and distinct, in others- too small to be seen.

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birch bark

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oak bark

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exotic tree section

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oak section

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wood types

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wood types

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vessels can be large or small, few or many

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ANATOMY MICROSTRUCTURE The investigation of the anatomy of wood on the microscopic level reveals that the fibers reinforce the matrix of lignin and cellulose in various layers of wood. Therefore wood should be understood as natural composite material which shares number of material properties and characteristics. Conduct a computational study of the microstructure in the biological tissue and you can reveal brand new material behaviors and design possibilities.

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absence of vessels in softwoods (pine)

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presence of vessels in hardwoods (oak)

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vessels filled with tyloses

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ANATOMY VESSELS A vessel element is one of the cell types of wood found in xylem, the water conducting tissue of plants. Vessel elements are usually found in flowering plants and absent from most conifers. Vessel elements are the main feature differentiating hardwood from softwood. Older vessels can be filed with tyloses- the extensions of cell walls of vessels of secondary heartwood. When the plant is strained by drought or infection, tyloses will grow from the sides of the cells and “dam� up the vascular layer to prevent the plant from further damage. In some hardwood trees, especially in trees with larger vessels, tyloses can assist in the process of making sapwood into heartwood. These obstacles can be used as a help to form a stronger heartwood by slowing the progress of rot.

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older vessels can be filed with tyloses

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wood cell walls

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white oak wood cross section with tyloses

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wood cross section with tyloses

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landscape elements based on microstructure

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vessel elements based on microstructure

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decay caused by insects and fungus

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DECAY Decay appears when organisms such as fungi use wood as a food source. Fungi require several conditions to survive: water, the necessary temperature, food and oxygen. In order to reduce fungi it is important to keep wood dry. The best way avoid fungi is to poison the food source. This can be achieved by using treated wood, or wood which has extractives in the heartwood, which are toxic to fungi.

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termite damage

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water damage

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charred wood

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There are various preservatives and processes that can extend the life of wood, timber, wood structures or engineered wood apart from structural wood. These can largely increase the durability and resistance from being damaged by insects or fungus. The main types of preservation are chemical or natural applications (oil, heat) and application processes (brush, spray, charring).

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compound wood material

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Interestingly, the charm of concrete and steel lies in their stability and uniformity as materials and effort is often spent manipulating their outlook while in wood, the appearance is the desired feature and the effort goes into developing a way in which to make it more uniform. As we enter an age of digital fabrication, with compound wood materials allowing for reliable properties and milling technology enabling for complete manipulation of solid wood, it seems clear that while the notion of suitable application of wood may shift, its qualities that appeal to our senses, or its character, will remain.

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3d printed wood

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wood milling

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Charred wood is resistant to: UV, weather, rot and bugs. It lasts up to 80 years with little maintenance. Wood treated with fire is paradoxically fire resistant. This technique was used widely in Japan to preserve wooden architecture. In Lithuania people were burning the toppings of wooden fences, because of rain and snow damage.

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charred wood

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ELEMENTS RESIN It is known that the resin in wood parts protects it from the decay. It is a natural preservative and component in wood works. Resin can be mistsprayed through fine nozzles onto the particles.

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wood inclusion in resin

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ELEMENTS PARTICLES Wood particles are the cellulosic elements that are extracted from trees or the parts of it used to make composite materials. Particle and chip boards are the products of an engineered wood, manufactured from wood chips, sawdust, sawmill shavings and a synthetic resin or other binder, which is being pressed and extruded. All of these are composite materials belong to the variety of fiberboard products.

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vegetation particles

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diverse natural forms

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FORMS AND SHAPES Taking into account wood characteristics on the microscopic level, I used woods elasticity to compute more complex forms. It is said that in biology material is expensive, but shape is cheap. As of today, the opposite was true in the case of technology.

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VARIETY OF SCALES During wood investigation i noticed that similar features of wood are multiplicating in various scales of wood. Throughout the experiments with nature-based forms, i designed a combination of scattered elements arriving from different original scales, but sharing similar material characteristics. I divided the project’s design in different scales from the landscape to the material as the infinite organism.

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preliminary design of forms

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artificial landscape

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wood vessels section

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3d wood vessels structure

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wood section

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3d structure

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vessels filled with tyloses

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detail of wooden 3d structure

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artificial landscape

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ATMOSPHERE ARTIFICIAL AND NATURAL The project attempts not to distinguish between the natural and the artificial, but to perceive the qualities of the unified structure. It is articulated as a flowing landscape with the scattered elements having no defined boundaries operating between the chisel and the gene, between machine and organism, between assembly and growth.

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seasons of wood

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SEASONAL METAMORPHOSIS Tree growing, bending, then starts weaving in organic shapes, branches, then leaves are falling and then in winter- decay. In the infinite organism there are parts that are always in a process of decay.

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open-air etnographic museum in Lithuania

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SITE As the intervention site i chose an open-air ethnographic museum in the Kaunas Reservoir Regional Park. It displays the heritage of Lithuanian folk life in a vast collection of authentic resurrected wooden buildings. It was established in 1966, in Rumšiškes on a scenic coast of Kaunas Sea. It holds the fragments of the villages, authentic farms, century-old buildings with flower and vegetable gardens, orchards, with crosses and wooden roofed poles, technical facilities – mills, forges, meandering between the landscape of forests, meadows and hills. I will use the existing museum’s exposition as a reference and intervene with the natural landscape.

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Stockholm Tallinn


Kaunas Vilnius



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areal plan

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LANDSCAPE Project’s landscape is designed by translating the original 1:1 wood peace to another scale which allowed to see the intricacy of the material from the different perspective. This new artificial landscape is integrated in the natural museum’s site. It is rich of complex nature-based forms, because of heterogeneity of the tree parts, whereas, the knots form the canyons and wood decay-the valley. Scattered architectonic spaces as the kurhaus, sanatory, 4 season pavilions, recreational paths and open-air activities are integrated within the landscape. Natural forms are being interpreted to design artificially.

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landscape model photo

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sanatory intervention

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STRUCTURE Architectonic wood-based structure is designed as a combination of various scales and parts of wood with the sanatory program and functions as an artificial forest in the recreational area. The function is based on hydraulic architecture of wood and represents the healing, relaxing atmosphere of the material innate characteristics. Structure is composed out of vessel units merging together into fluid spaces. Function of spaces follow the types and characteristics of wood being used.

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landscape model photo

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landscape model photo

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vessel section

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VESSEL Vessel represents a vertical wood cell, where the spaces are created by cell walls dividing the unit. Organic shaped spaces in vessels are called tyloses and are originally formed as a cause of decay. Each vessel unit represents a combination of various wood scales and parts. Circulation infrastructure is connecting vessels vertically and horizontally continuously throughout the entire site.

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tyloses space

vertical layer

shrub layer



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thermowood fir wood

compound wood

oak wood

charred pine wood

larch wood

beech wood

pine wood

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interior space

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INTERIOR Diverse organic spaces of the vessels have no define borders between the interior and exterior, providing the spatial transparency in a very intricate organism. Interrelating horizontal and vertical elements are providing the new spatial experience. The atmosphere of the inherent material characteristics in this scale is employed the most.

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vessel model photo

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detail drawing

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DETAIL Forms are nature-based, but artificial. They are deriving from different scales of natural material, but being technically assembled. Complicated, intricate forms can be assembled easily. Every detail of the project is including all the parts and scales of wood. Wooden vessel skin is heterogeneous alike in nature, dividing surface to the differentiated fabrication, wood types. Vessel wall details are entirely dependent on the exact relationship with the whole structure of the landscape.

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vessel model photo

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vessel model photo

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material samples

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MATERIAL Even that the material is fabricated digitally, it is still a naturally grown biological tissue, which inhabits life forms replicating within it. Some parts of the material, not depending on the type of preservation, are constantly in the process of decay. The whole variety of scales provided by nature shares similar features of the hierarchy. Project represents the system of organism with various scales of ingredients.

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vertical section of wood

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horizontal section of wood

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#folklore#recreational#landscape#resort#digitalfabrication#diversity #computational#traditional#ornament#folk#sanatory#pavilion #decay #kurhaus#organic#smooth#rough#scattered#material#ar tificial #variety#intricacy#scale#wood#compound#natural#anatomy #micro#vessel#cell#par ts#forest#tree#material#microstructure #types#layers#bark#hear twood#sapwood#hardwood#softwood

Imaginary Folklore  
Imaginary Folklore