Zippered wood twists the standard 2×4

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Researchers at the University of British Columbia’s HiLo Lab, University of Colorado, Denver’s LoDo Lab, and HouMinn Practice push the potential of the ubiquitous wood member.

The “aha!” moment at the University of British Columbia’s HiLo Lab came when researchers, intent on bending strips of wood veneer into unusual forms, stepped back to look at their elaborate setup. “We realized we could use the formwork itself as the member,” says Blair Satterfield, chair of UBC’s architecture program and an associate professor.

That breakthrough led to zippered wood, which leverages ordinary construction methods to create extraordinary structures with the humble 2×4. “We thought about the project both formally, in terms of what we can achieve cheaply and quickly with standard studs, and also in a performative way, in terms of efficiency and strength,” says Marc Swackhamer, Assoc. AIA, who chairs the architecture department at University of Colorado, Denver and co-founded HouMinn Practice with Satterfield.

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Source: The Journal of The American Institute of Architects

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