Advanced timber concepts and the design of furniture and structures

Patrick Beale, Tristan Morgan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


Since 2006, the Advanced Timber Concepts Research Centre (ATC) has pursued the development of innovative approaches to designing with timber across a variety of scales. Through teaching-based research and applied research within a professional context, the research group has engaged in cutting-edge practice uniquely relevant to Australian timber culture, whilst engaging with digital wood design in a global context. Projects undertaken since 2006 include a ten-year project running an intensive furniture design course at the University that focused on re-imagining the role of low-value timber within fine-furniture making, employing traditional techniques along-side cutting edge digital fabrication and computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) processes. Concurrently, a pair of prototypical flat-pack timber houses emerging from teaching programmes were designed, developed, and built, alongside several other prototypical timber structures and assembly systems initiated within academic teaching and developed by the research centre and the professional studio—ATC Studio. These include a third prototype house, an experimental permanent large-span timber shell structure, a continuing five-installment advanced computational design and manufacturing design-and-build teaching program, and a currently under-construction sports hall and community centre. Through these projects, we have engaged with the use of timber as a vibrant material that possesses active properties that can be employed productively within the design process. Further, advanced digital processes such as computational design, simulation, analysis, form-finding, evolutionary solving, and CNC manufacturing, uncover the opportunity to explore the nature of the relationship between designer and material by way of the digital. We increasingly understand that the design of computational processes leads to a condition of ‘dual-authorship’, where the designer is both responsible for the process and the computed result. Add to that the active role of a natural material such as timber, and we now encounter a third author—the forest—which may begin to approach the achievement of a truly holistic, sustainable architecture that considers its environmental impacts in an active and performative manner from the outset.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDigital wood design
Subtitle of host publicationInnovative techniques of representation in architectural design
EditorsFabio Bianconi, Marco Filippucci
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
ISBN (Electronic)9783030036768
ISBN (Print)9783030036751
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameLecture notes in civil engineering
ISSN (Print)2366-2557
ISSN (Electronic)2366-2565


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