The Bartlett, UCL
GAD, Research Cluster 2
critics: Isaïe BLOCH & Moa CARLSSON.
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Wangshu ZHOU & Jieru DING: This project explores the relationship between material properties of solid wood and CNC-milling technology. In the material study, by investigating the physical effects of drilling in wood, including traces and residual byproducts, a design system is proposed to covert these uncontrollable “misfits” into designable elements within their size and distribution.
Applying these material systems to the extension proposal of the Hanging Temple, in Shanxi province, China—consisting of delicate wooden structures—we aim to achieve three architectural purposes: first, to reconstruct the roof structure to regulate the motion of water flow, from water damage due to rain; second, to guide rain water to specific locations of the temple, where new hydroponic vertical gardens are located; and third, to battle increased wear on the temple due to tourism, providing new interior spaces and a new circulation path with the blossom of milled ornament.
For construction and assembly, a modular system of wooden components ensures the morphologic flexibility and aggregated dexterity of the designed form. Interlocked with traditional Chinese mortise and tenon joints, the modular system aims to both challenge the high material waste of milling and to address the relationship between buildability and mass-customization.
Wooden fabrication plays a significant role in the domain of digital fabrication, mediating a great leap from handcraft to the digital age. Our role as designers in the 21st century is to renegotiate the relationship between the technology of digital fabrication (struggling, as it does, with predictability and a lack of materiality) and notions of craftsmanship (which are time-consuming and exclusive). Therefore, we treat traditional wood material as guide, to give a true spirit of craftsmanship to digital fabrication—namely, bespoke manufacturing with profound precision and greater economy.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
WZ & JD: Isaïe Bloch, Moa Carlsson, Aron Demetz, Bob Sheil, and Stephen Gage; the theory of bespoke manufacturing; traditional wooden artificiality; and the observation of morphologic emergence in the milling process.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
WZ & JD: Reading: Manufacturing the Bespoke: Making and Prototyping Architecture (AD Reader); A Pictorial History of Chinese Architecture; and Reiser + Umemoto, Atlas of Novel Tectonics.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
WZ & JD: Eragatory; Kokkugia; Morphosis; Enric Miralles; Aron Demetz; AL_A; and Thomas Heatherwick.
Additional credits and links:
Special thanks to Isaïe Bloch & Moa Carlsson as the tutors of research cluster 2 in the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.