Ana Gatóo, Michael H. Ramage, Antiopi Koronaki, Ron Bakker, Abhinav Choudary, Yelda Gin, Midori Ainoura, Pablo Lunin, Darshil U. Shah, Lars Hesselgren, Richard Woolsgrove, Nathaniel Moore, Harjit Sembi, Mutsuko Grant, Eduardo Wiegand, Aurimas Bukauskas

Centre for Natural Material Innovation. University of Cambridge; PLP Architecture; Dukta Flexible wood; Light Earth Designs.
United Kingdom

“UnFolding” is a pavilion comprised of six lightweight structures designed for the London Design Biennale 2021. “UnFolding” examines the potential for using engineered timber with digital tools to produce flexible interiors. The pavilion is folded through kerfing methods into fractal-based structures resembling tree canopies and evoking a walk through the forest. Extensive research, testing and sample fabrication to acquire optimal flexibility of different timber members through kerf patterns was accomplished for the project. Addressing the urgent needs of shifting towards modern methods of design and construction, sustainable materials and the design of spaces that are transformable, adaptable and demountable, engineered timber also has the potential to bring nature back to the places we live in. Engineered timber products are still quite new, hence we are far from imagining its full potential and identifying its most efficient uses. It is a natural material that we can grow, it stores carbon and can substitute materials that cause high CO2 emissions. Off-site production of engineered timber elements can also reduce waste, lower cost, increase construction speed and create a more pleasant urban experience. The 21st century has progressively been moving towards more flexibility in residential interiors. After living with the COVID-19 pandemic, flexibility of interior spaces has become crucial. Flexible spaces in housing have social, economic, and environmental benefits. By creating flexible interiors, houses can adapt to users’ changing needs. With mass customization, the growth of digital factories for timber products and the possibilities of open-source designs, interior walls can come alive as sustainable and creative. Experimentation with different kerf patterns, scales and densities and digital cutting tools allowed us to achieve diverse forms and foldability combining parametric design and prototyping to generate optimized and efficient forms. This work brings together material and artificial intelligence to improve design with natural materials.