Centre for Economic Transformation | CET

“Once my front door – now my coffee table”; Advanced computational design and robotic production with waste wood


Growing volumes of wood are being used in construction, interior architecture, and product design, resulting in increasing amounts of wood waste. Using this waste is challenging, because it is too labor-intensive to process large volumes of uneven wood pieces that vary in geometry, quality, and origin. The project “Circular Wood for the Neighborhood” researches how advanced computational design and robotic production approaches can be used to create meaningful applications from waste wood. shifting the perception of circular wood as a simply harvested stream, towards a material with unique aesthetics of its own right. The complexity of the material is suggested to be tackled by switching from the object-oriented design towards designing soft systems.

The system developed uses a bottom-up approach where each piece of wood aggregates according to certain parameters and the designed medium is mainly rule-sets and connections. The system is able to produce many options and bring the end-user for a meaningful co-design instead of choosing from the pre-designed options. Material-driven design algorithms were developed, which can be used by designers and end-users to design bespoke products from waste wood. In the first of three case studies, a small furniture item (“coffee table”) was designed from an old door, harvested from a renovation project. For its production, two principle approaches were developed: with or without preprocessing the wood. The principles were tested with an industrial robotic arm and available waste wood. A first prototype was made using the generated aggregation from the system, parametric production processes and robotic fabrication.

Reference Malé-Alemany, M., Schoen, T., Galli, M., Bors, V., Kozhevnikova, A., & van Dijk, L. (2022). “Once my front door – now my coffee table”; Advanced computational design and robotic production with waste wood. 1-5. Paper presented at AMS Institute Conference ‘Reinventing the City’, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
16 February 2022

Publication date

Feb 2022


Valentijn Bors
Angelina Kozhevnikova
Liselotte van Dijk


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