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Sewn Timber Shell uses sewing to create a wooden structure

The so-called Sewn Timber Shell, developed by researchers from the University of Stuttgart and Tongji University, investigates the use of robotics and sensing mechanisms in combination with garment design to explore a new way of making tailored wood structures.

The research project uses traditional garment patterning and connection techniques, replacing fabric with thin sheets of plywood. In sewing, seams allow turning flat sheets of material into 3D curved shapes that envelope the body. When applied to architecture, “the seams become connections that shape the material based on the elastic bending of wood which creates structural capacity and spatial enclosure,” the researchers say.

By using an adaptive robot fabrication process, it is possible to scale up, as well as handling complex interrelations between patterning shapes and the material behaviour. Rather than a repetitive manufacturing process, the researchers use sensing technology that synthesises material computation and robotic fabrication.

During the fabrication process, the work is scanned repetitively. The wooden segments have markers, which are tracked to generate the movement of the robot. Throughout the process, the wooden pieces are sequentially added and joined by sewing them together.

The result is a wooden pavilion that unfolds a unique textural and spatial articulation.

The Sewn Timber Shell 2017 is a collaborative project by the Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) at Stuttgart University and the Digital Design Research Center (DDRC) at Tongji University, Shanghai that forms part of the Sino-German Research Project “Performative Design Methodologies based on Robotic Fabrication for Sustainable Architecture (GZ 1162)” funded by the Sino-German Research Centre.

Photos: Bai Yu (via ArchDaily)