Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering

Connections and geometry for timber plated structures

At a glance

Funding body: University of Bath
Principal investigator: Mark Evernden
Co-investigator: Richard Harris
Researcher: Hannah Pearson
Dates: 2009-2012


Sustainability and architectural demands are causing an increase in the popularity of timber structures. As a result this is leading to innovations in the structural form and use of the timber materials.

The idea for this research project originates from the ancient art of paper folding, origami but developing it to use angled timber plates. The main research problems to be addressed are to define a parametric shape which has structural and architectural advantages and in turn develop connections between the timber plates considering the specific application for angled plates.

The aim for this project is to research timber plated structures and the connections between the plates in relation to folded timber structures. Folded structures have been developed using the principles of origami which allows folding of a thin sheet of material to create lightweight structures with minimum waste of material as well as define interesting structural forms. In order to research and develop connections between angled plates the project considers the geometry of timber folded structures and how this shape affects the loads on the plates and the connections. The research will also address other design considerations through developing design equations and recommendations in application to folded plated structures.

The research will consider the parametric shape of the structure and define one key geometry. This will be achieved using mathematical and computational techniques to define the shape and arrangement of plates for structural efficiency. The parametric shape will be designed in Rhino with the potential for finite element analysis.

The design for the connections between the plates will be carried out through computational and physical modelling. Various innovative connection techniques, such as the use of non-metallic elements, will be considered through the design, making and testing.

The main outcome for this research will be to produce design recommendations on folded timber plated structures and the connections between these plates.

The results from this research have application in structural engineering through the greater potential and use for timber plated structures. The use of timber materials in particularly cross laminated timber (KLH) is becoming more popular through the benefits of cost, aesthetics and sustainability. As a result this research will be applicable in this growing field through better connections for timber plated structures as well as their potential for use in larger timber buildings.