ESR: Tom Svilans
INDUSTRIAL PARTNERS: Blumer Lehmann + White


How can the integration of material performance and digital sensing lead to new models and modes of working between early-stage design and industrial fabrication, in the context of free-form glue-laminated timber assemblies?

This research investigates the integration of free-form glue-laminated timber in contemporary architectural design and fabrication. Developments 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 this new light, potentially leading to material-driven design solutions and new structural morphologies.

The project addresses three distinct but overlapping themes in this context: the production and communication of knowledge across design, development and fabrication networks; the integration of the material performance of engineered timber into these networks through computational tools; and the application of digital sensing and acquisition tools to industrial timber fabrication workflows.

The project unfolds primarily through a research-by-design method based on experiments in the form of speculative probes, prototypes, and demonstrators. The method of inquiry is therefore parallel strands of physical prototyping and information modeling, drawing on the expertise of the industrial partners and the testing of workflows through workshops, case-studies, and architectural proposals.


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.



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

Previous work

Author: Tom Svilans

Excerpts of previous work done at the Bartlett Manufacturing and Design Exchance, the Bartlett School of Architecture, ScanLAB Projects, and personal projects. read more

Keywords: · Bartlett · Bmade · fabrication · lamination · making · robotics · ScanLAB · scanning · timber · UCL · VR · wood