»The material is the machine!«

Trä meets Achim Menges

Professor Achim Menges of the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning at Stuttgart University, is the world’s leading light in advanced computational design.

What’s that?
“We investigate different ways of thinking about materials using various computational models. The most interesting opportunity for the next generation of architects is that they can use computers as an interface between the digital virtual sphere and the much more complex physical world. As such, this world in which we construct our built environment can be seen from a different perspective.”

How do you feel about wood as a material?
“I really like wood for all sorts of reasons, but what fascinates me most is the complex anatomy of wood. Unlike all the other materials, wood is not industrially produced to satisfy the demands of the construction sector. Wood is a functional tissue produced by the tree itself. Conduct a computational study of the microstructure in the tissue and you can uncover brand new material behaviours and design possibilities.”

What types of building might that result in?
“One example is the HygroSkin pavilion at the FRAC Centre (see page 7), with its climate sensitive surface structure. In that design, the wood is the sensor, the motor and the controller. In other words, the material is the machine!”

Personalities that trä has met

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