Origami – Folded Plate Structures


Funding: EPFL, OVEF

Status: Completed, 2006 – 2010

Doctor: Hani Buri, IBOIS EPFL

Thesis director: Prof. Yves Weinand, architect and engineer, IBOIS, Marcel Haasis, engineer, IBOIS/EPFL



This research investigates new methods of designing folded plate structures that can be built with cross-laminated timber panels.
Folded plate structures are attractive to both architects and engineers for their structural, spatial, and plastic qualities. Thin surfaces can be stiffened by a series of folds, and thus not only cover space, but also act as load bearing elements. The variation of light and shadow along the folded faces emphasizes the plasticity of space and envelope. Folds not only create structural depth, but also perceptual deepness. Folds give rhythm to space, and variations can be used to express a spatial sequence as well as to modify the structural strength. Because of this we are convinced that a design method which rapidly generates and modifies folded plate structures is of great interest, and can form the basis of a productive collaboration between architects and engineers.
In the last fifteen years the timber industry has developed new, large size, timber panels. Composition and dimensions of these panels and the possibility of milling them with Computer Numerical Controlled machines shows great potential for folded plate structures.
An interdisciplinary team investigates architectural, structural and mathematical aspects of folded plate structures.

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