STOCKHOLM Every generation of architects claims they are breaking down the boundaries of what is possible. It usually proves naive to declare a paradigm shift for the smallest of changes. Nevertheless, I am confidently going to announce: a new age has dawned! And wood designs are perfectly placed to become the ultimate companion for this new age.
As a new graduate, in recent years I’ve seen interest in wood really take off. To make the most of the momentum being built up right now, it can be good to understand what lies behind the growing interest in wood, beyond the purely ecological aspects.
On today’s architecture and engineering courses, students are dealing with more and more complex situations. However, Sweden’s visions concerning construction don’t always reflect this. You might say that students of today are not always given the chance to use their full potential when they emerge into the unnecessarily restrictive Swedish architectural world.
From having been a true craft, making no use of machinery, construction changed and was rationalised during the Industrial Revolution with the arrival of electricity and the combustion engine in the late 19th century. Now we’re at the start of a third system shift. Once again, via digital manufacturing processes, we have the opportunity to use specially tailored components in the way that craftsmen always used to.
So what has changed? Well, in a digital process it doesn’t matter whether you produce 1,000 of the same components or 1,000 different ones. Structural analyses and different types of optimisation take place within one and the same digital environment. Files are then generated for architectural models and final manufacture.
Students are increasingly attracted by the fact that wood is easy to work with, making it perfectly suited to this production chain, from file to factory, while at the same time being superior from a sustainability perspective.
This is something the wood industry should embrace. But it means the industry needs to overhaul its digital processes.
I want wood to be our main material as we work together to drive things forward, with a greater thirst for experimentation than we have at the moment. Wood will lead us into the new era, once again putting Sweden on the architectural map.