A Double-layered Timber Plate Shell - Computational Methods for Assembly, Prefabrication and Structural Design

Advances in Architectural Geometry 2016


This paper presents a new lightweight construction system for doubly-curved shells, built from two interconnected layers of structural wood veneer plates. The system uses integral through-tenon joints for a fast, precise, and simple assembly, allowing for the construction of a series of differently shaped shells without a costly mould or support structure. Instead, inclined joints cut with a 5-axis CNC milling machine embed the correct location and angle between plates into the shape of the parts. This constrains the relative motions between joined parts to one assembly path. To take advantage of the benefits of such connectors, the constrained assembly paths must be considered in the fundamental design of the system, allowing for the insertion of each plate. This imposes additional constraints in the segmentation process of doubly-curved shells. In order to meet the requirements and resolve the multi-constraint system, we use a global, nonlinear optimization approach. Developed as a close collaboration between architects, computer scientists and structural engineers, the paper includes an experimental analysis of the influence of parametric modifications in the shape of connectors on their load-bearing performance.