Gilles Retsin is a London based architect and designer investigating new architectural models that engage with the potential of increased computational power and fabrication to generate buildings and objects with a previously unseen structure, detail and materiality. His work is interested in the impact of computation on the core principles of architecture – the bones rather than the skin.
With his own studio he recently completed a temporary pavilion in Tallinn, using lego-like building blocks made of CNC-cutted plywood. Similar to LEGO, a series of discrete building blocks can be assembled into a variety of structures. The blocks are based on cheap, off-standard sheets of 18mm exterior plywood (3.3 x 1.35 m) which were locally available. Each sheet is cut by a CNC-machine, and can then be assembled into a stiff building block capable of bearing structural loads.
The blocks exist as a family of straight,45 degrees, 90 degrees and 135 degrees elements. These building blocks are designed to perform “just good enough” in any structural condition: under compression, tension, as a cantilever or as a column. The blocks are protected from the exterior climate with black bitumen tar or varnish. Over 380 sqm of plywood was cut and assembled into 80 building blocks. The entire structure was fabricated locally in Tallinn, in collaboration with local manufacturers.
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