Stochastic Lattice | A Generative Design Tool for Material Conscious Free Form Timber Surface Architecture
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This thesis attempts to resolve the contradictory relationship between the ecological merits of wood construction and the significant material intensity of recent free form timber surface structures. The building industry is now adept in the design and construction of freeform surface architecture, however new challenges have been introduced with the environmentally conscious desire to build these structures in wood. Lacking the formal versatility of steel and concrete, wood introduces a great deal of difficulty in the realization of complex form at an architectural scale. Powerful digital design and fabrication tools have recently made it possible to model, analyze and construct these buildings, but at the cost of heavy structural solutions that involve energy intensive fabrication processes and significant material waste. This approach contradicts the ecological benefits of wood, and raises the question of whether it is possible to achieve free and expressive form in timber surface architecture while maintaining an economy of means and material. This question is addressed through the development of a generative design tool for the creation of material conscious free form timber surface architecture. The formation of the tool is informed by the field of computational morphogenesis, which draws from the natural growth processes of biological structures in the virtual synthesis of form. The tool is conceived as a morphogenetic material system, which consists of a generative algorithm that integrates material, structure and form in a single computational process. Specific material saving techniques deployed in the algorithm draw from existing research in timber shell design and material optimization. Established methods in the use of geodesic lines for the structural patterning of wood shells and stress driven material distribution make up the core concepts deployed in the algorithm. The material system is developed, refined and tested through the design and construction of an experimental free form timber lattice.