How to integrate wood with a soft material in order to augment
its structural performance?


State of the Art & Scientific Interest

/On construction

Todays architectural practice is challenged by new technologies and population growth. Our cities have become place and process for complex scenarios of contemporary urbanization (Ibañez, 2018). This facilitates densely intertwined urban fabric, stitched together by materials favoured by urgency, readiness and deployability, causing high impact on land and resources. As cities are growing, the need for a circular sustainable model in construction industry could not be rushed more.

/Wood alternative
On the other hand, wood is effortfully pushed as runner-up alternative to other heavy-duty structures.
So far it has marked its entry in construction as the only grown structure, hence accompanied with a remarkably low environmental-impact. Arguably becoming a preferred element in construction, particularly in the nordic countries, due to its availability and rooted forestry traditions. Recent projects of wood has benchmarked a 49 meter tall timber framed building enabled by CLT and glulam-members (Kleppe, 2018). Still, wood is perceived as a fragile element in construction foreshadowed by steel and concrete lobbies, hence postponing any immediate applications.

The scalar properties of wood, stresses a new line of research on wood specific construction tasks.
Until now, we have seen that wood can be reinstated as a rigid and stable structure. We also know that wood is inherently flexible, having inspired glulam and similar technologies. Despite this, there has not been further effort in pairing wood with its native characteristics as tree. As tree, it is arguably isotropic due to its multi directional fibre orientation and performs well in forceful-environments. Can scale-related techniques bring forward new flexibility in wood and accelerate it as low-impact material in construction?



Bending Moment

/Wood + Soft inlay
Prior to the research it is necessary to classify the different components:
A – the hard/flexible component (wood)
B – the soft/elastic component (ex. silicone)




Design Parameters (3-dimensions)

Piece length – length of stock
Piece width – width of stock
Piece depth – depth of stock

Bridge gap – distance to span
Bridge width – thickness of connection
Bridge pos. – positioning of connector


/Link structural behaviour with parameters
Feedback of numeric data (mm precision) to joint parameters.
Once all instances are linked with corresponding performance, one can begin to construct an overall composition working with the range of flexible performances available.


Next Steps

  • Explore joints possibilities with 5- and 6-axis tool, approaching sophistication of Japanese craftsmanship
  • Top down global geometry
  • Continuation of soft material research
  • Material optimization process



Flexible Wood Assemblies is a project of IaaC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed at the Masters in Advanced Architecture in 2018 by:

 Lars Erik Elseth
Faculty: Edouard Cabay & Raimund Krenmueller