Ground to Crown
MSc dissertation work of Design + Make alumni Patrick Birch. Inspired by the ‘tip to tail’ ethos, Pat set out to apply a similar framework to our use of trees.
Text from Patrick:
Understood as anisotropic in structure, the variability of form in timber was traditionally accommodated and often elevated in strategic applications. However, contemporary applications of wood products act to suppress the value of timber’s integrated material composition. Treating wood simply as mass to be divided and reassembled into homogeneous building components. Through the subversion of industrial processing methods, this MSc dissertation project by Patrick Birch highlights the limitations that standardization has on design thinking and showcases the overlooked structural potentials present in non-standard timber components. Through the synthesis of found components into novel structural examples of timber’s anisotropic material properties, this work presents the latent architectural capabilities of these previously undesirable forms.
The built works presented here, Bifurcated Bridge and Beech Fork Stool, showcase the distillation of the theoretical positions developed in Ground to Crown. By reinterpreting regularly discarded timber forms novel design outputs were developed for conventionally understood assemblages. These act to highlight both the realities of fabrication and the approachability of non-standard materials in design. Although material understanding can be gleaned from secondhand sources, only through the working of one’s chosen material can a person begin to truly comprehend, empirically, the strengths and limitations embodied within.