Embraced Wood: Circular construction method for composite long-span beams from unprocessed reclaimed timber, fibers and clay

Pelin Asa, Christelle El Feghali, Christian Steixner, Yasaman Tahouni, Hans Jakob Wagner, Jan Knippers, Achim Menges


This paper presents a method to expand the availability of wood in construction by establishing a computational design and robotic fabrication workflow. Digital tools enable the evaluation of the structural, material and geometric properties of pieces of unknown origin to create beams from unprocessed reclaimed timber using clay and natural fibers. Methods to overcome challenges such as material irregularities, embedded fasteners, size variation, and surface toxins allow for timber that would otherwise only be downcycled to serve a structural high-value use. A full-scale prototype beam was fabricated to test the fabrication process, and structural testing was conducted to demonstrate design specific span and loading performance.