Timber Folded Plate Structures – Topological and Structural Considerations
This paper analyses the potential of different possible folded form topologies for generating timber folded surface structures. The main advantage of such structures lies primarily in the realm of ecology and sustainability. By offering an integral way of construction, which fulfils both a supporting as well as a covering function, very lightweight structures are achieved. Also, greater degree of prefabrication is possible which leads to reduced overall cost. Timber folded structures consist of a large number of discrete, thin plane elements, mutually connected to form an overall folded surface. Therefore proper edgewise connection details are needed in order to ensure an efficient load bearing system. For structures made of wood products this presents a great challenge using the state-of-the art joining techniques. For this reason, the use of timber folded plates in civil engineering applications has been very limited. However, recently new technical solutions have been proposed for efficient edgewise joining of thin timber panels. In this paper focus is put on integrated mechanical attachment technique which utilises digital prefabrication to integrate connectors through panel geometry. Taking into consideration material, fabrication and connection detail constraints, various topologies are examined for the considered application. Furthermore, structural behaviour of folded systems is studied and three feasible forms are compared by means of Finite Element Analysis. Finally, observations are made on a case study of a built prototype structure and the structural potential of the proposed systems is outlined.