Metabolic Weave is an investigation into the form finding capabilities of weaving doubly curving 3mm plywood, to understand the structural capacity and expressive potential of thin plywood strips.
The project studied the differentiation in visual effects and potential structures through the use of repetitive but adjustable timber elements. The project responded to the paradigm of “mass customisation” and the financial constraints of digital fabrication access in Sydney by producing variation through assembly of identical parts.
Using Gottfried Semper’s 19th Century theory of Metabolism, the idea that architecture is rationally reducable to the materials and processes associated with their uses, as a departure point, the project developed a structural unit to modulate into a larger structure.
Semper attempted to understand architecture through a categorisation of material production techniques, materials grouped by methods of physical manipulation - pliable (fabrics), soft (clay), stick-like elements (wood), dense (stone), while these material types grouped further into techniques of material assembly - textiles (weaving), ceramics (sculpting), tectonics (connections), stereotomy (packing).
The design project chose stick-like elements for material type, and set a design ambition to explore two assembly techniques through the same method of physical manipulation and achieve a gradiation between the two states. The outcome provided a repeatable and adjustable building unit using the method of textiles, that could move between both tectonic and stereotomy assemblies.