When I first entered architecture school, I did so as a sculptor who liked maths. I had always been interested in flow and curvatures and when I began experimenting in the wood shop, everything I did involved the sander. Wood is a beautiful, warm, organic material with immense potentials, but something it is not particularly good at, is bending. Sure, the trees that give us this material must bend some or they would break outright in a strong wind, but this only goes so far and goes even less, the smaller the bit of wood becomes. (Unless you want to talk wigglewood, then you’re just being smart.) And so, in my desire to bend easily and without having to first add, then subtract with a sander, or spend long hours with a steamer, or sawing veneers for a vacuum press, I moved to the metal shop and the torches
This compound material created by the Milan-based studio MammaFotogramma would not have directly solved my woes, but it would have certainly kept me in the wood shop with the endless possibilities it lends. Composed of a network of equilateral triangles, tessellated and fixed to a vinyl fabric front and back, ‘Woodskin’ is effectively a flexible wooden skin for use in cladding or composition. Giulio Masotti, a member of the team who originally devised ‘Woodskin’ as an entry to the open source competition Autoprogettazione 2.0 says that,
Thanks to new technologies, structures are getting much like our own bodies. Here is the skeleton, its joints and muscles expanding and contracting behind our skin, defining our movements and posture. WoodSkin is simply a convenient and innovative way of rendering these visible.
Masotti and fellow team member Gianluca Lo Presti further developed the concept in the aftermath of the competition, incorporating it into the design of a rock climbing gym the pair were working on in Montreal. Relocating to live near the construction site, they were able to make adjustments and decisions on the manufacturing process as it progressed, eventually landing on the concept shown, which uses the above-mentioned vinyl backing and Russian plywood.
By Matt Davis
Courtesy of MammaFotogramma