Conference paper

Geometrical description and structural analysis of a modular timber structure

The ambitious goal of the ongoing research at IBOIS, the Laboratory of timber constructions at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is to develop a next generation of timber constructions made out of innovative timber-derived products, through applying textile principles on the building scale. The presented structure is a modular composition of timber folded panels, notably demonstrates an example of applying the geometric techniques used to produce modular patterns and lattices to timber construction context. Effectively, it is shown that complex space structures can be designed using simple connection technology between elements. Moreover, by taking advantage of advanced CAM process, complex planar timber elements are cut in large scale and assembled with high precision as for the prototype of the structure presented in this paper. The folding concept corresponds to a planar reciprocal frame structure. The basic module is consisted of two mutually supporting timber folded panels which are slipped in, consecutively, along their cuts, to build up an arch. The inter-module connection’s stability is provided by contact boundary condition over the slide joints. The fundamental mechanical properties of the structure are examined using Finite Element Method and considering the non-linear contact boundary condition. The static behavior is studied under the self-weight load case as well as the modal dynamic response. According to analysis results, and by aid of a CAD parametric model, structural and geometrical alternatives are proposed to improve the structural performance. A prototype based on this geometric principal has been fabricated and assembled to explore feasibility of the concept in the building scale.

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