Suspended Remnants

  • 2020

  • Engineering

Designed In:


The Suspended remnants Pavilion was designed and fabricated using a bespoke computational tool that combines the generation of structurally efficient geometry with a material inventory constraint. Through automation, an inventory of timber members of short unique lengths, typically deemed unusable in the industry, are repurposed into high value architectural components.

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Image: photographer: James Rafferty
Image: photographer: James Rafferty
Image: photographer: James Rafferty
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  • Every tree that is harvested and sawn into structural timber members, is subject to the natural variation inherent in its properties. Considerable variation can also exist between specimens. The distribution of defects within sawn timber can be unpredictable, and sometimes can lead to large amounts of sawn timber that are uncertifiable for structural use. The resultant timbers are then sold for non-structural applications, woodchipped to make particle-based products, or burnt as fuel to power other operations on the sawmill plant. As a result, only about 50% of the volume of timber harvested is certified for use as structural grade timber.

  • Timber members containing frequent defects such as knots, checks, splits, wane, may be certified as structural grade if those defects are removed. However, this typically results in timbers with short and inconsistent lengths. For most commercial framing applications this variability produces unpredictability, and a random inventory of elements which is deemed inconvenient and time consuming for designers and contractors to work with. To overcome such inconveniences and time inefficiencies, a computational tool is developed to combine structural form finding process with an automated part assignment algorithm to achieve material efficiency through both structurally rational form, and minimization of material waste.

  • This project presents a novel technical workflow which facilitates the exploration of architectural form whilst simultaneously satisfying structural efficiency and material inventory constraints using waste material. It demonstrates that through the utilisation of technology, low value or waste material can be up-cycled for the creation of high value and sophisticated architectural design. This is relevant in relation to the current environmental crises. This research and technical workflow could be extended beyond the timber industry to other manufacturing industries that similarly generate by-products that has a similar potential of being re-purposed for design.

  • 1. A tight fit, two-way dovetail lap joint was developed to connect the short length timbers into arches. The mechanical interlock provides an effective solution for rapid construction, while achieving structural rigidity by allowing only a single degree of freedom in the direction of insertion. During assembly, this was additionally fixed with two concealed screws. 2. A unique three-way node joint connecting the arches to form the final pavilion. One of the challenges in this project is to connect non-coplanar arches meeting at a node with varying angles of incidence. Instead of responding to high-end fabrication methods, such as multi-axis machining or 3d printing. This project developed a unique node system which although complex could be machined on a CNC router with only 3 axes, enabling the ease of fabrication using modestly equipped workshops and inexpensive timber. 3. A translucent skin defining the interior and exterior spaces and entry points of the pavilion. The skin was conceived as a continuous tensile membrane sleeve with seam lines following arch ridges, attached and concealed with a rebate. The skin was also stretched and attached to the internal arches at selected locations to form complex funnels and vault-like forms in the interior. RESEARCH ARTICLE HERE -