MultiPly: a carbon neutral timber pavilion

MultiPly, an eight metre high, carbon neutral timber pavilion made exclusively from American tulipwood, opened to the public in Madrid Rio at its entrance to the Casa de Campo, as part of the Madrid Design Festival, on the 1st of February and was open for two weeks.

The 32-cubic metres of tulipwood used for MultiPly store the equivalent of 22 tonnes of carbon dioxide and are naturally replaced with new growth in US forests in less than two minutes.

The installation was a collaboration between Waugh Thistleton Architects, the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and ARUP, responding to two of the greatest challenges of our time: the growing need for housing and the urgency to fight climate change, presenting as a solution the combination of modular systems and sustainable building materials. MultiPly is comprised of a maze-like series of interconnected spaces that overlap and intertwine. It has been conceived and constructed to encourage visitors to rethink the way we design and build our homes and cities.

The three-dimensional structure is constructed from a flexible system of 12 CLT modules of American tulipwood with digitally manufactured joints, as if it were a piece of furniture ready to assemble.

Because it is composed of modules, the construction can be disassembled and reassembled. It was first shown as part of London Design Festival in 2018, in the Sackler Courtyard of the Victoria and Albert Museum, outside the Building Centre in London with New London Architecture, and then at the Universite deglie Studi di Milano, as part of Interni’s ‘Human Spaces’ exhibition at Milan Design Week 2019, and was presented in Madrid for its fourth iteration.

“The main objective of this project is to publicly discuss how environmental challenges can be addressed through innovative and affordable construction,” says Andrew Waugh, co-founder of Waugh Thistleton Architects – a practice that has been at the forefront of engineered timber construction for decades. “We are at a point of crisis in terms of housing and CO2 emissions and we believe that building with a versatile and sustainable material such as tulipwood is an important way to address these problems.”

In 2018, the population of the Eurozone’s fastest growing major economy, Spain, increased to 47 million – the fastest annual growth since 2009. In order to keep up with population growth in ever-expanding cities, in a way that is not harmful to our planet, it is crucial to utilise new technologies that use sustainable materials. Off-site timber construction – that can provide quick-to-assemble, high quality housing with low carbon emissions – provides a viable solution.

MultiPly explores a new and more sustainable form of construction that combines an available negative carbon material, such as American tulipwood, with modular design,” says David Venables, European Director of AHEC.

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