This research commenced from an interest in the anisotropy of wood, with its specific fiber-directionality and related response-range to environmental stimuli tested against the specific requirements of the context, a coastal sand dune conservation area in which the shifting of sand dunes is critical. Initially the basic elements were finite length strips made from layers of laminated veneer; rotating layers against one another allowed an investigation of different fiber-layouts. Shifting the layers of veneer made possible a continuous lamination process, so as to produce a large assembly without construction gaps. A correlated manufacturing strategy was developed, incorporating the possibility of rotating selected sub-locations along their long axis. Replacing the moulds with a nodal support system allowed the laminated components to be clamped at the end points and so made self-organising, that is, able to find their form within the given constraints during the fabrication process.
Achieving a laminar flow by maintaining curvature continuity between the individual elements results in a continuous multiple load-path system that, together with the anisotropic characteristics of timber, this helps to maintain the flexibility and integrity of the overall assembly. Furthermore, while the overall assembly consists of finite lengths of veneer strip, the continuous laminae arrangement does not yield a division into elements. The overall assembly becomes a single element, in which each local dimensional change produced by environmental stimuli affects the system at large.
Relating the systematic use of manufacturing-enabled form-finding to extrinsic influences affects the articulation of the sub-locations and the overall system and their orientation to the sun-path and prevailing wind direction. The resulting surface curvatures and varied levels of system porosity can then be used to modulate airflow and related ranges of sand-deposition, as well as exposure to sunlight. The overall flexibility of the system – a product of its material elasticity – enables a higher responsiveness to the fluctuations of the wind loads. Several dynamics are thus interrelated: airflow, system deflection and local terrain formation through modulated aggregation, as well as velocity of airflow, air-borne sand and abrasion of the material assembly. Ultimately the main concern of this project is the strategic entwining of these time-cycles
AA Diploma Unit 4 (Michael Hensel, Achim Menges)
Aleksandra Jaeschke, Architectural Association, London, 2004-05