Plates to Structures

Folding plates to structures

The combination of digital methods in timber construction and the increased awareness of sustainability resulting from the climate crisis have caused a disruptive boom in the timber industry.

In order to build faster, more resource-efficiently, more cost-effectively and more sustainably than before with wood, a material that is limited in terms of quantity, new methods and approaches are required. While there are numerous projects in research and application dealing with bars or solid CLT panels, the use of thin panel materials remains mostly limited to formwork or planking. This project aims to bring thin sheet materials and their structural qualities into focus.

The PLATES2STRUCTURES project is developing a new method for thin sheet materials that enables innovative shell-like structures. Inspired by origami techniques, flat sheets can be folded into complex three-dimensional structures with little effort. Depending on the type of folding method and geometry, either independent complex components or complete load-bearing structures can be created, which can be produced with little waste. The increased stability and aesthetic qualities of certain folding patterns, which are transferred to the wood material by milling and articulated joining, make this technique interesting for wood construction.

The focus of this research is to further develop the fundamentals for load-bearing components or support structures made from folded panel materials, which are produced flat and transported as compact packages to the construction site, where they are folded into their load-bearing shape.

The approach should lead to a holistic digital model that maps structural or fabrication qualities and therefore gives designers a way to directly investigate designs for their performance and manufacturability. It will also initiate the development of a component catalog that relates folding patterns and folding methods to fabrication and performance in order to implement this approach in the construction industry.

Plates2Structures can therefore be seen as an important development step for the implementation of wood panels as a load-bearing element in the construction industry.