Carbon Activated Timber Bench by Asst. Prof. Michael Budig and Asst. Prof. Kenneth Tracy wins the A’Design Award 2020 in category of Sustainable Products, Projects and Green Design. Congratulations on their achievement!
About the Project
Juxtaposing old, weathered hardwood with precise smooth carving and high-tech carbon fiber gives the piece a unique character. This novel expression fuses high tech carving, patina, natural wood grain, digitally designed weaving patterns and precise manufacturing. This points towards an optimized, calibrated future of sustainable design and recalls vernacular traditions of textile and wood construction. Lashing, wood joinery and timber frames act as both cultural and technological precedents.
UNIQUE PROPERTIES / PROJECT DESCRIPTION
The bench uses reclaimed wood planks that through their re-application continue to store carbon, since the living trees absorb CO2 from the environment. The re-use of the wood hence contributes to a positive ecological balance. Carbon is re-combined with the wood in a different state, as minimal amounts of high tech fibres that are strategically placed to enhance the capacity of the wood planks.
OPERATION / FLOW / INTERACTION
Initiated by the opportunity to reuse wood decking boards the project leverages high performance materials and new techniques to renew the old materials and create a sustaining piece of furniture. An elongated pattern of tightly wound carbon fiber strands rest within robotically carved groves to hold the massive stack of blocks together. Precise, continuous curvature combined with tapered edges form a comfortable low-profile object that looks lightweight despite being 140kg
PRODUCTION / REALIZATION TECHNOLOGY
The bench reflects craftsmanship in a contemporary context, where computational design and fabrication have become state of the art. After stacking reclaimed wood planks into solid blocks, an industrial robotic arm mills the blocks into their final geometries with paths for the subsequent reiforcement with fibres. The reclaimed wood planks store carbon and contribute to a positive ecological balance, whereas carbon is re-combined as minimal amounts of high tech fibres, strategically placed to enhance the capacity of the wood planks.
The bench design highlights the expertise present in large-scale furniture carpentry in a combination of experienced labor with new forms of craft, digital calibration and robotic fabrication. By augmenting the reclaimed wood with carbon fibers, the project proves that small amounts of high-performance materials can be used alongside carbon-negative wood elements. This new design direction increases productivity and sustainability through the use of new design and manufacturing technologies.
Reclaimed wood simultaneously diverts waste and reduces the energy by forgoing the effort needed to obtain virgin materials. The finishing and fabrication contribute to making a durable, robust piece of furniture sequestering carbon for longer and reducing the need for replacements. Finally augmenting the performance of wood beyond its inherent structural capacity increases the potential range of use so it can be used differently for both industrial design and architecture.
Principal Designer: Michael Budig, Principal Designer: Kenneth Tracy, Sachin Gupta, Kerine Kua, Dhileep Kumar, Lee Le Xiu Jean, Melissa Lee Wen Hui, Seah Jia Neng, Daniel Yong Kaijie, Robotic Fabricator: Singapore Composite Cluster and Wood Fabricator: Hon Nam Lee
The work is based on a design by the team for Mapletree Investments. The design was started with the objective to design a functional installation from reclaimed timber planks from VivoCity shopping mall. The project culminated in the design of a bench that is permanently displayed at Mapletree Business City in Singapore.
Image Credit: Michael Budig, Kenneth Tracy, A’Design Award and Competition