RCAT - Research Center for Architecture and Tectonics

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size



Prof. Dr. Michael U. Hensel + Research Fellow Defne Sunguroğlu Hensel


Research commenced in 2009 - ongoing


At AHO the research into wood as a mutli-capacity heterongenous material in architecture was initiated through a series of master-level studio courses led by Prof. Dr. Michael U. Hensel and Research Fellow Defne Sunguroglu Hensel in part in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Birger R. Sevaldson and visiting staff Prof. Emeritus Dr. George Jeronimidis.

The Responsive Wood Architectures studios commenced in 2009 and pursued integrated research on wood in architecture from a performance perspective. The studio hosted seminars with invited international experts in the field, such as Prof. Dr. George Jeronimids, expert on biomimetics, Dr. Christoph Schindler, expert on developments in manufacturing and technology approaches, et al. This was followed by strategic meetings with the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food that also governs forestry in 2011, the Research Council of Norway and various research bodies that focused on setting the scene for a successful grant applicantion in the Bionær program in 2012.

The studios were based on the premise that a full integration of design and sustainability cannot be brought to a higher level understanding of performative design, unless such an effort is based on utilising material characteristics in ways that are currently not common practice. The research by design effort in the master-level studios and diploma projects focused therefore on a holistic and integrated approach to the entire value chain from forestry, to wood industries to architectural utilisation of wood. Particular focus was placed on species, environment and growth specific aspects of wood as a heterogeneous, anisotropic and hygroscopic material.

The Internal differentiation of wood and the resultant dimensionally variable material behaviour in responds to environmental dynamics are typically seen as negative aspects. However, when deployed with a design purpose, this may present interesting opportunities for design. The effect on the wood industry would be a demand for more diverse wood products from a greater variety of tree species. In turn this may change industrial forestry towards biodiversity. Rethinking the properties of wood in architecture and design can therefore have far-reaching repercussion. To initiate the research necessary to affect such changes is the aim of the Responsive Wood Studio.