LIMB reconsiders historic heavy timber construction to develop a new joinery method by focusing on the natural occurrence of branch bifurcation in different wood species. In the 17th century, tree crotches were harvested for a variety of purposes from bracket systems in barn structures to structural joints in navy vessels (Encyclopédie Méthodique: Marine). Because of their size and disruptive grain pattern, often tree crotches are not harvested commercially, cannot be turned into mulch and are often landfilled. Replacing the joint with a single piece of wood that purposely grew for bifurcation in nature moves the structural connection away from the node producing a stronger construction joint.
Milling into the crotch allows one to fabricate a connector piece with designed angles that exist within the overall natural parameters of the bifurcation. Because of the changing size and natural structural capacity of a tree, our research varies in scale; from building to furniture. By separating the bifurcation from linear elements, different species can be simultaneously used for better structural optimization, such as weight, flexibility or rigidity.
Our research sets itself apart by assuming a syntactical approach to design. We are not interested in unique form generation based on organic shapes or unique parts, rather are constructing a reusable language of bifurcated joinery. As such, our project reduces a number of common angular occurrences, within unique limb bifurcations, down to a set of shared parts that can be “tuned” to and reused in different structural systems. These design restrictions have provocative formal and structural possibilities, which have enabled us to explore four systems: two-way frame structures, three-way columnar structures, rectilinear “hedge-like” structures with shear panels and reticulated shell structures.
By adopting digital practices, diverse regional wood species and different building traditions LIMB is simultaneously global and regional in its approach.
This project was completed in collaboration with:
Peter von Buelow, Co-Principal Investigator
Steven Mankouche, Co-Principal Investigator
Kasey Vliet, Co-Principal Investigator
Omid Oliyan Torghabehi, Research Assistant
Robert Allsop, Research Assistant
Kevin Bukowski, Research Assistant
Cody Gilman, Research Assistant
Benjamin Wichman, Research Assistant
Shaobo Niu, Research Assistant
This project was made possible by a grant from the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.
2018 Research Through Making: LIMB overview
Temperate Tectonics celebrates the first five years of KASE Studio, an Ann Arbor, MI based design and construction practice. Each residential renovation and addition focuses on intersections - between inside and outside, between materials, between activities, and between people; for it is within these intersections that architecture and living coexist. The projects vary in their approach to mitigating Michigan’s temperate weather conditions with differing degrees of enclosure and conditioning. Some provide shade and breeze for hot and humid summers, and others encourage warmth and light in the cold and dark winters. Material systems are designed for their abilities to evolve pattern and texture via their natural weathering and patina, in addition to their durability performing in a harsh climate.
KASE understands the design and construction process to be one cohesive flow involving clients, designers, fabricators, and code officials. With many years of experience in the industry, KASE realizes that a project's ultimate completion can be better realized when design and construction work hand in hand from start to finish. Using both traditional and innovative techniques, KASE collaborates with skilled creators, craftspeople and thinkers to deliver design and construction solutions that are project-specific, functional and cost-efficient; as well as beautiful, transformative and progressive.