Log Knot: On Perpetual Wood Cycles and Forest Processes


Log Knot: On Perpetual Wood Cycles and Forest Processes

The Cornell Robotic Construction Laboratory, in collaboration with the university’s Arnot Teaching and Research Forest, developed Log Knot, a robotically fabricated architectural installation which aims to expand and optimize the use of trees in construction. Log Knot creates an infinite singular loop of wood, borrowing strategies from traditional wood building and manufacturing.

In buildings, only about 35% of the wood of a tree is used in construction, focusing mainly on the straight tree trunk. By utilizing robotic fabrication technology and advanced 3D scanning technology, this project aims to better use the resources which surround us. In a first step, irregularly shaped trees that cannot be processed by traditional sawmills are selected and harvested from the Arnot forest. The trees are 3D scanned and computationally processed to form a spatially complex figure-eight knot (Savoy knot). Computational solvers locally optimize the structure for bending and tension at each tri-fold mortise and tenon joint. RCL’s open-source robotic fabrication platform processes the irregular tree trunks using a 5HP CNC mill end effector. Due to the unique joint design, the structure requires only minimal formwork for assembly.

The theme of Cornell’s CCA 2018 Biennial was Duration: Passage, Persistence, Survival. Log Knot addresses this theme on multiple levels: environmental cycles, birth, growth, and decay are intrinsic to complex forest ecosystems and processes. Conceptually and spatially, the Log Knot project references these eternal cycles and reciprocal relationships between systems, both natural and technical. The infinitely looping structure is an interplay between archaic natural geometry, advanced computation, and state-of-the art digital fabrication. By questioning how we currently use the forest as a resource, Log Knot provides a critical commentary on various perpetual wood cycles: economic, environmental, and cultural in nature.



Log Knot: On Perpetual Wood Cycles and Forest Processes (2018)

RCL Project Leadership: Sasa Zivkovic (Director and main project lead), Brian Havener (Research Associate and project co-lead) 
RCL Project Team: Christopher A. Battaglia (Senior Research Associate), Cait McCarthy (Researcher), Todd Petrie (Researcher), Kashyap Valiveti (Researcher), Jordan Young (Researcher, fabrication co-lead)
RCL Assembly Team: Angel Almanzar, Stephen Clond, Isabel Lucia Branas Jarque, Alexandre Mecattaf, Edward Aguilera Perez, Alexander Terry, Dax Simitch Warke
Cornell Arnot Teaching and Research Forest, CALS: Peter Smallidge (Arnot Forest Director)
Photo Credits: Jeremy Bilotti, Stephen Clond 
Project Sponsors: CCA Cornell Council for the Arts / AAP College of Architecture, Art, and Planning / AAP Department of Architecture / FARO Technologies

project sponsors: