ESR: Tom Svilans
INDUSTRIAL PARTNERS: Blumer Lehmann + White


How can the notion of feedback provoke a relationship between the early-stage design and industrial fabrication of free-form timber structures?

This research investigates the integration of free-form glue-laminated timber into contemporary architectural design and fabrication. Advancements in material sciences, digital design tools, and fabrication techniques have added an unprecedented amount of complexity to the design and production of buildings. This novel condition necessitates alternate ways of conceptualizing and managing the design-production process and has made obvious the need for integration across disciplines, specializations, and scales. This also presents an opportunity to re-examine a complex material such as timber in a new light.

The project proposes that, through several distinct forms of feedback, new material and design practices emerge that take advantage of the material complexity of timber. New morphologies are made possible by the integration of digital sensing and scanning into existing industrial timber processes, and the breadth and scope of design possibilities are expanded by the development of material- and fabrication-aware design modelling tools. These result in new methodologies which challenge existing ways of designing and fabricating timber buildings.

Close collaboration with the industrial partners has resulted in experiments which test this proposal. A series of motion capture and 3d scanning experiments resulted in a laser scanner prototype which was integrated into an active timber production through hardware and software interfaces at Blumer Lehmann AG. Several design projects were used as case studies to explore new ways of simulating and designing with free-form timber in early-stage architectural design phases at White Arkitekter.

Tom Svilans


Tom Svilans is an Innochain PhD fellow at CITA in Copenhagen. His research focuses on the link between industrial timber fabrication and early-stage architectural design. Through hands-on prototyping, coding, and industry secondments, he looks at how certain material properties and behaviours of timber can be leveraged to create smarter and more innovative design solutions.



Four Feedback Experiments in Industrial Glulam Production

Author: Tom Svilans

An exploration of different methods of integrating direct material feedback in industrial glulam production at Blumer Lehmann AG, Switzerland in spring 2017. read more

Keywords: · 3d scanning · cnc · Faro · glulam · industry · lamination · LiDAR · material performance · Optitrack · scanning · timber · wood

Talking models

Author: Tom Svilans

Progress update and some thoughts about data, a new modelling workflow, and revisiting the last demonstrator. read more

Keywords: · cita · design communication · glue · INTEGRATING MATERIAL PERFORMANCE · lamination · material performance · timber · wood

Innochain colloquium – Integrating material performance

Author: Tom Svilans

A couple of photos and a short video from the Design Probes colloquium exhibition earlier this month in Vienna. read more

Keywords: · cita · digital fabrication · exhibition · glue · industry · INTEGRATING MATERIAL PERFORMANCE · lamination · timber · wood

Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2017 folly competition

Author: Tom Svilans

Paul Poinet (ESR06) and I recently collaborated on a competition proposal for the Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2017 folly competition. After a qualifying round and long discussions with the organizers and jury, we placed second in the end. read more

Keywords: · cita · fabrication · INTEGRATING MATERIAL PERFORMANCE · lamination · timber

Blumer-Lehmann visit – Feb. 13-18

Author: Tom Svilans

A visit to Blumer-Lehmann to discuss the impending secondment and how the research could be integrated. read more

Keywords: · cita · fabrication · INTEGRATING MATERIAL PERFORMANCE · lamination · timber

Molds and prototypes

Author: Tom Svilans

Quick update to show some photos of molds and the laminating process. Progress is much slower than planned and we experienced some setbacks - technical and scheduling - but things are moving and slowly improving. read more

Keywords: · cita · fabrication · INTEGRATING MATERIAL PERFORMANCE · lamination · timber

Data management and a workpiece model

Author: Tom Svilans

Data management issues and the development of a flexible workpiece model to cross-reference and contain fabrication data for individual glulam components. read more

Keywords: · cita · fabrication · INTEGRATING MATERIAL PERFORMANCE · lamination · timber

CITAstudio Glulam Workshop: September 5-16

Author: Tom Svilans

A workshop for CITAstudio Masters students to explore the design and fabrication of five speculative glulam blank types, and to move through the design-to-production chain from schematic design to machining connection details. read more

Keywords: · cita · CITAstudio · fabrication · INTEGRATING MATERIAL PERFORMANCE · KADK · lamination · material performance · robotics · timber

Experiments 01

Author: Tom Svilans

Some visual tests, follies, and development snapshots from the last couple of months. read more

Keywords: · analysis · cita · fabrication · lamination · simulation · timber

KADK Glulam workshop – April 19-22

Author: Tom Svilans

A hands-on workshop for 2nd-year Bachelor students about digital design, rationalization, and fabrication in the context of free-form glulams. read more

Keywords: · analysis · bending · fabrication · formwork · glue · glulam · rationalization · Rhino · workshop