Wooden Scales

Touching on topics of personal interest including sustainability, synchronicity with the environment and parametric design, my view to create an eventual large-scale structure represented an exciting opportunity to engage with wood, a material I had not yet handled in great detail. It is renewable, can in some form be  sourced locally throughout the world and is incredibly versatile with infinite characteristics that create both solutions and challenges when implemented to the built space.

In this project I begin by reviewing the varying available species of wood types that would carry potential for me to work with towards a final piece, taking account of their sustainable qualities I wanted to delve into wood and explore the material’s extremes. Following this I look into several designs, techniques and different structural systems that mirror it in nature as well as architectural projects that have used wood to react to these systems and create methods to benefit from them.

Expectation of model using both methods to accommodate concave and convex curvature.

In being intrigued particularly by Japanese Joinery I investigate the traditional patterns and methods associated with it and begin to analyse how far it can be incorporates into my project. I took elements forward from here to create my models, especially tessellation and symmetry. I was particularly inspired by the linking of pieces, as shingles, together with the integration of the joinery into the design. Trialling which shapes, patterns and scales work best when joined together then evolves into grappling with how to create angles and curvature through overlapping pieces rather than joining organically through grooves and notches.

Expectation of curved model using method as a cladding.

The most important part of my project was in the detail of creating a shape that was versatile enough to form a curving structure when connected together and multiplied with minimum component parts.
In experimenting with different styles of wood, shapes and angled edges, my scale piece evolved from creating a curve on one axis as an arch to a multi-dimensional surface that has a rhythmic, organic quality.

6mm Thick MDF arch.

Throughout the project I encountered many challenges. Manufacturing each scale through out machinery also proved unreliable, especially in the later stages of the project, however I was fortunate that my concept could come to life regardless of the volume of pieces I could create.

Using wood in this format also had an interesting design effect in that despite organising the scales in a uniform way, imperfections in each connection, when multiplied, created a final model that resembled reptile scales that I had originally been inspired by. My project I feel takes into account the natural, flexible characteristics of wood as a material; embracing imperfections in the system rather than attempting to defeat them.

Double curvature achieved with 6mm plywood scales.

By experimenting with different sequences, patterns, dimensions and shapes, this system has the potential to create structures that can be assembled, disassembled, transported and manipulated easily and creatively.

Shape development.

My journey to create this structure using wooden shingles that curves on two different planes creating an organic and sometimes imperfect surface with the relationship of each wooden piece to another was long and challenging but successful in my opinion. 

Final model at the exhibition.