‘We want to rethink architecture: If the forests are to be our primary resource, they need to be able to make an impression on the way we live. What other actors are there in the forest? There are the animals, the air and the soil. Will one single type of tree work for them?’
However, the most profound result of Anders’ research is going to be a reduction in the amount of discarded wood.
‘We attack the problem using high tech tools: we use computers and digital fabrication to understand the complexity of wood. Today, we cannot really understand this complexity, which is why we just cut boards and throw away the rest.’
The rings and the twists
The trick is to allow the shapes of the wood to help define the pieces of wood we need.
‘A tree grows in a certain way because growing in that way is good for it structurally. It twists, it has rings. Nothing in this suggests that squares extruded lengthwise are best. This is something we came up with because it was easy,’ Anders says.
The timber industry is extremely advanced, so the reason is not any lack of technology in production. 3D scanning, GPS tagging and drone monitoring help optimise the processes. You assess the quality of the wood and produce slices and squares, while optimising things based on statutory standards.
‘But no one discusses these standards or whether our current machines and materials match the ways we want to live.’
However, from 2023, it will be mandatory in Denmark to carry out life cycle calculations (LCA assessments) for all new buildings Another step towards using more wood in the building sector. In other words, the world is slowly moving towards the place where Anders Kruse Aagaard already is: a place where wood is more dominant and is utilised far better than is the case today. Where the knots and branchings of the wood are not enemies we need to eliminate but rather conditions we have to work with.
‘The next step will be to expand our collaboration with design studios and with the wood and construction industry. We want to change ideas about how we ought to build – and from which materials.’
The revolution is bound to come – it is simmering in the workshops of Aarhus School of Architecture. And it will be good news for the air, the earth, the animals, the people – and the trees.
See Anders’ research profile in the Pure database.
Anders and Niels Martin Larsen are fonders of the Arctic Wood Architecture Network.
Read more about the Material Imagination project, which has just been concluded; a project which, apart from wood, also involves concrete and marble.