Digital Timber

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architecture, CNC milling, creative coding, digital design, digital fabrication, folding, lectures, life-physica simulation, life-physics simulation, origami, origami simulation, parametric modelling, patterns, real-time simulation, research, Rhino Grasshoper, teaching, workshop




Dates: 29 – 31. Oktober 2015

Tutors: Moritz Fleischmann, Agata Kycia

Institute: Werkkonferenz Exhibition Design Institute Hochschule Düsseldorf
Location: HSD PBSA – Hochschule Düsseldorf, Peter-Behrens School of Arts, Düsseldorf, DE

Werkkonferenz 2015 is an annual event organized by the Exhibition Design Institute of the Hochschule Düsseldorf. This third edition of the conference focuses on the theme of NEW TOOLS in design.

The conference creates multidisciplinary and experimental environment, involving participants in various activities, workshops, lectures and exhibitions. Main themes discussed during the conference are:

1. New tools and new materials – Meeting with visionaries and alchemists
2. Media culture – What happens with the craftsmanship in the digital world?

3. Virtual design – How does technical innovation relate to the free expression?

4. Experimental space – Sensuality of both real and digital spaces

Digital Timber is a workshop on virtual design inspired by origami, the fascinating art of folding paper. We focus on the production process of folded plates on a larger scale and its challenges.

Our aim was to model a table using folding planes and cast it out of concrete. To start with, we had to fabricate a wooden mold, which would need a supporting construction. For that purpose we built a solid waffle structure that would carry the weight of both: the wooden mold and the concrete cast. The table with its dimensions 2 m X 0.9 m will weigh around 150 kg.

Table_01a pic.01 Visualization of the folded table platesTable_01bpic.02 Visualization of the wooden mold and waffle structure underneath

Design process starts with real-time simulations of the folding patterns. On the picture below you can see the folding pattern, where the colors indicate different folding directions. The form-finding process was simulated using Kangaroo – Live Physics engine within Grasshopper.

Folding pattern.jpg

offset2.jpgThe challenging part starts when it comes to the manufacturing and we need to take into account material thickness of the wooden plates. For that purpose we 3D offset all the folded planes in Varylab. Offseted planes are then ready to be fabricated using 5 axis CNC milling machine.


This prototyping workshop experiments with CNC-aided design and manufacturing of parametric folded structure made out of wood using Grasshopper and WoodWop. It introduces basic tools and techniques for simulating digital folds, generating parametric variations and data transfer to a CNC machine.

More information about the conference and the workshop you can find here:

More publications are available

Below there are some more pictures from Werkkonferenz and our workshop, available also on the Werkkonferenz Facebook page.



Werkkonferenz Exhibition Design Institute Hochschule Düsseldorf
Hochschule Düsseldorf
Peter-Behrens School of Arts
Georg-Glock-Strasse 19
D-40474 Düsseldorf

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