Wood Pavilion / Wing Yi Hui + Lap Ming Wong

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Wing Yi Hui and Lap Ming Wong, two students from Hong Kong studying at The Oslo School of Architecture and Design, have shared their wooden pavilion with us.  The performance-oriented design studio, under the guidance of Professors Michael U. Hensel, Defne Sunguroğlu Hensel and Dr. Birger R. Sevaldson, gave the students the opportunity to explore the performance of the wood and create a “customization possibility” within the constraints of a “platform of standardization.”  The designers explained, “By understanding the performance of material, and allowing it to perform its intrinsic properties, innovative and sustainable methodology of architectural production could be emerged as a natural response. Deformation of wood due to moisture is no longer a nuisance but a benefit to fabrication.”

Check out their process work and even more about their project after the break.

© Wing Yi Hui + Lap Ming Wong

By researching the properties of the wood, the designers could make the wood conform to their artificial aesthetics in a natural way.   “During the process of swelling, pressure difference among cells results in energy storage within the micro structural system. By applying lamination constraints to the curved veneer before the rebound upon drying, energy can be stored. Through testing the process of lamination and deformation, specific system with highly variable geometry can be explored,” explained the designers.

© Wing Yi Hui + Lap Ming Wong

To reach the desired affect, the process was a constant experimental exercise using both digital and physical methods.  Relying on digital computations alone does not yield completely accurate results, for the complex structural arrangement and performance of wood may add some varying affects. “The computational tool predicted the approximate dimensions, global geometry and compositional curvature while physical tests are carried out to combine the material performance with computer-generated data for further evaluations…The relationship between the tools create unique interface for generation of the emergent typologies and global geometry of performance-oriented exploration as such,” explained the students.

© Wing Yi Hui + Lap Ming Wong

As the project developed, the students applied their understanding of strategic moisturization, the translucent qualities of thin veneer and elasticity of wood to create “a potential architectural element.”   The construction consisted of 46 groups of components while each of them consisted of 5 components: 36 identical groups of them are fabricated for the major structure, while 3 components in 6 groups of the total are fabricated differently for extreme curvature shift.  ”Adding components and varying lamination position and area creates significant internal self-organization of the system and generate highly differentiated geometry.”

© Wing Yi Hui + Lap Ming Wong

Rather than resorting to computational machines for the fabrication process, by simply varying the parameters of lamination in terms of positions and area, the curvature of the wood changes.  ”Standardized and identical components are then performing with customized post-construction alterations without fabrication of unique components or pre-shaped elements. Standardization could actually achieve customization in the research without production large amount of waste,” added the designers.

Performance-oriented design: Wood Pavilion
Students: Wing Yi Hui, Lap Ming Wong from Oslo School of Architecture and Design
Performance-oriented design studio, Conducted by: Prof. Michael U. Hensel, Defne Sunguroğlu Hensel and Prof. Dr. Birger R. Sevaldson.

Cite: Cilento, Karen. "Wood Pavilion / Wing Yi Hui + Lap Ming Wong" 12 Jul 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=68446>
  • Flick

    I hope I’m not the only architect who feels that today’s architectural education tends to focus TOO much on theory and archi-speak rather than validity of materials and whether the students can seriously put together a set of drawings. Investigation is excellent, but without practicality, it becomes yet another “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” sculpture without much thought towards real-world budgets and time constraints.

    That being said, I seriously like the form and the sculptural effects, but can you draw it and detail it well enough for a layman to build?

    • Wing Yi and Lap Ming

      Oh thanks Flick! Maybe it’s the crux of the project as well. The complexity of the project is actually arose from very simple geometry with certain imposed logic which explored the materiality and behavior of wood. Image no.20 is the production method of the identical sequence. By lamination of this element we got the entire structure. It’s almost all we need to construct!

      It’s not a very conventional process but once you understand the principles, the fabrication process becomes very simple and requires very little material: as the material is doing what they wanted to do. As the veneer is very thin, certain moisture content and waiting time should be allowed for the wood to deform into desirable state. The duration of construction was around 50 hours by the two of us.

      The technology improved so rapidly nowadays and what architect defined ‘drawing’ is changing from time to time. The media of communication is improving as well and data can be nowadays conveyed by so many better means for the use of everyone!

      • Flick

        You’re missing my point. As I mentioned, I seriously like the form and the sculptural effects, but can you draw it and detail it well enough for a layman to build.

        The designer is typically not the layman who constructs the object. The layman, generally, does not care about the materiality nor the behavior of the wood. I’m sure the fabrication process for you, the designer, was quite easy because you understood that which you were trying to accomplish, but would you be able to convey this same process to a layman, through a set of drawings. The architect is generally not on site each day to tell the layman how to accomplish this task and it is not within the architect’s repertoire for the means and methods of construction.

        Using “archi-speak” may sound intelligent to some, but unless this object can be constructed by a layman, it’s going to be expensive and frustrating with LOTS of RFIs. As indicated in the article, “To reach the desired affect, the process was a constant experimental exercise using both digital and physical methods.” In other words, to the layman and most others, this may appear to be more sculptural. A contractor does not want the expense of his construction to be a constant experimental exercise, UNLESS he/she is getting paid EXTREMELY well for the process and/or it is a highly visible project.

        For an architectural student and designer, it is truly a wonderful piece for the exploration of materials and much can be learned from this experience. My statements were merely to question whether this can be built in the real world, with time constraints, budgets, and a carpenter who doesn’t want to experiment but rather wants to know how to build it by looking at the blueprints, rather than having to call the architect at every twist and turn.

    • Kit

      The criteria for architecture is not whether it can be built by a layman, unless that is the specific premise for the project. I understand your perception that students work isn’t rooted in real world applications, but isn’t it nice that these students that will soon be stuck in the daily grind of condo’s and office towers, have an opportunity to explore new and exciting ideas? Our field wouldn’t advance without these types of creative outlets, and we should support them.

      • Flick

        I love architecture and all it stands for and I certainly agree that students should be allowed the freedom of creativity. I have nothing against studying the nature of materials and the creativeness with which new typologies can be formed. If you read my original comment, you’ll see my premise is simply to question the amount of Theory being taught today and the amount of “archi-speak” that gets overly intertwined with a description in the discovery of a material’s “intrinsic properties”. Allowing something to perform its “intrinsic properties” is quite the opposite of making “wood conform to their artificial aesthetics”. By using too much “archi-speak” it appears that the authors have clearly negated themselves in what they were trying to indicate.

        It is commendable that Universities permit their students to be creative and inventive, but is is fair to the student (and to the firms that must hire them) to make them believe that using a lot of mumbo-jumbo “archi-speak” to describe their process and goal will provide the listener with a better understanding of the designers final intention? Hence, why I bring up the question as to whether or not the process can be explained to a layman.

        Architecture is after all (in its most basic of terminologies) the “art and science of designing and erecting buildings and other physical structures” – to simply quote Wikipedia. Note the two verbs – designing AND erecting.

    • Kit

      So to be clear Flick: You like this project, and your only complaint is in terminology.
      I might agree with you. People have been soaking thin strips of wood to manipulate it for thousands of years. There are many simple terms associated with these types of processes (steam bending, to name one). The project itself reminds me quite a bit of basket weaving, a craft that has been practiced since the earliest hunter-gatherer tribes developed, in which thin strips of wood/bark/branches/etc are soaked in water and then easily bent into shape. Maybe Wing Yi Hui and Lap Ming Wong could have put their process into simple terms.
      “Through testing the process of lamination and deformation, specific system with highly variable geometry can be explored” can be summed up as “We tried a few different ways to bend and attach the wood, and found that we could make many different shapes.”
      To me, this simplistic language doesn’t seem very academic. Maybe that’s the underlying issue that you are trying to convey here, that we’ve lost touch with reality. But on some level I disagree, because these are the technical terms that our foundations in architecture are built on. These are all specific terms with exact meanings. We use these types of specific terms when we specify means of construction in our construction documents. We do this because these complex words can explain a process or material in an exacting way without redundancy or vagueness (written well of course).
      It’s an interesting argument though, isn’t it? Are we designing for highly specialized technical fields, acting more or less as assemblers, or are we designing for laypeople who’s craft is as much rooted in interpretation as process?
      Sorry to take the conversation away from the project itself. I think it’s beautiful, and I am not at all confused by the text that accompanies it. I love the photo looking up through the slats at the sky. I’d like to feel the sense of enclosure (In laymen’s terms I’d like to sit in it).

  • Dennis Cheung

    Very well documented project. I like especially the students’ endeavor in experimenting the material, the way they test its property and limited options out of their findings, in order to achieve customization in their design.

    For this, I would argue against such project’s practical necessity in the building industry mentioned by the other comment. It is obvious that such material scale is related to handcraft furniture/installations that will be off-track to think in a skyscraper way which needs technical drawings for, let say, construction workers. In order not to lose the sensational thickness of the almost immaterial veneer, the project should stay in a touchable scale.

    All in all, welldone!

  • dashen

    reminds me the works by AA EmTech. it’s cool and prototypical indeed. it seems more and more architectural educations tend to be this way. Nevertheless, I still highly doubt the implementation in real context.

  • buck

    Cool research! It’s a very good test indeed in architectural education. Agreed to the previous comment about the implementation but it may not be necessary for going to such an extent, and I believe the investigation is even more valuable than the result.

    Anyway good work!

  • Rich

    I’m with you, Flick, and I’m only beginning my third year of architecture school at Carnegie Mellon University.

    Language allows a client to set forth their own needs, and to create a scripture with which the architect must grapple (a “brief”). That’s pretty darn fundamental to the process of architecture. Language fails, however, because it isn’t global… I have seen too many colleagues with good ideas flounder because they can’t express themselves in English very fluently.

    Flick, these students very clearly meant that they wished “to exploit the natural abilities of wood (to bend once moist)”, not “discover and express natural properties of wood”. Not to be culturally insensitive, but judging from the names of the students, it seems they befall the same fate as many other second-language speakers.

    To this, I have only one suggestion: speak through drawings and models! No matter whether the critic speaks English, Yiddish, Braille, they can see space, see material, see lines, see colors, see your point. If you’re not sure about a wording, make a model or diagram?

    Best of luck to everyone and congrats on the project,

  • gmlgrl

    Pretty nice project, only problem is its almost identical to a UC Berkeley student project led by Lisa Iwamoto called Digital Weave from like six rears ago – same geometry, same form, same tectonics, only thing different is the material (wood vs plastic)…its published in her Digital Fabrications book, among other places.

    • ashahi

      and yet, you don’t see this difference of material makes these two projects completely different on their research basis…using wood and its reaction to water to generate a geometry and structure is profoundly intriguing…
      no matter wood,plastic or metal…these kind of material research opens a great platform for architects and designers to use material in a more innovative, and also, smarter way.

    • jaje

      Jesus! you would probably think the louvre pyramid is identical to the ancient ones.

  • al