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Touch Wood, Zentrum Architektur Zürich Bellerive (ZAZ), 2022
Augmented Acoustics
The project Augmented Acoustics combines computational design with an innovative augmented fabrication system. On the occasion of the Touch Wood exhibition at the ZAZ Bellerive - Zentrum Architektur Zurich, we designed a 5.3m long and 2.5m high Acoustic Wall. Positioned at the vaulted entry hall of the ZAZ Bellerive, the new Acoustic Wall was specifically designed for this exhibition. It improves the speech intelligibility for presentations while giving a dynamic background to the main hall. The Acoustic Wall is composed of 1444 identical timber blocks and assembled with an augmented assembly process.

In a first step, the computational design software articulates the timber blocks on a given base curve, allowing for the specification of the length, the height, and the number of timber blocks within the acoustic wall. In addition, it is possible to define additional parameters, such as the degree of acoustic diffusion, the custom pattern image, and the gap distribution of the bond.
This latter makes it possible to freely specify the length and curvature of the wall depending on the architectural context. The acoustic diffusion, which is based on the Schroeder diffuser, is achieved by shifting the timber blocks back and forth along their longitudinal axis.
The gray value of the pattern image controls and indicates the rotation of each individual timber block. Depending on the rotation and how the light hits their surface, the timber blocks are represented by white or black pixels. For Touch Wood, we took inspiration from the tangential wood grain pattern, in which the blocks rotated towards the light (white pixels) represent the early wood grain, and those that are rotated in the opposed direction (black pixels) represent the late wood. All parameters can be adjusted independently from each other.

In a second step, the timber blocks were placed by three builders in a synchronous augmented assembly process utilising the latest Augmented Reality system by ETH Spin-off

The software runs on a smartphone and enables the builders to visualise the building instructions directly on the screen in a 1:1 overlay of each timber block. Subsequently, the builders were instructed on the glue deposition area and the accurate placement of the timber blocks.

The Acoustic Wall was prefabricated at the Robotic Fabrication Lab at ETH Zurich and deconstructed into 25 transportable segments to be placed and fully glued in its final position at ZAZ Bellerive. The Acoustic Wall at the cafeteria of Basler & Hofmann in Esslingen, Switzerland in 2019 demonstrates the appliance of the method in a different context.

Augmented Acoustics, Esslingen, 2019

Touch Wood, ZAZ Bellerive

Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich
Prof. Fabio Gramazio, Prof. Matthias Kohler, Matthias Helmreich, Sarah Schneider, Alessandra Gabaglio, Alexandra Anna Apolinarska

In cooperation with:, ERNE AG Holzbau

Sponsors: Basler & Hofmann AG, Swiss Timber Engineers

Copyright 2023, Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Gramazio Kohler Research
Professur für Architektur und Digitale Fabrikation
ETH Zürich HIB E 43
Stefano-Franscini Platz 1 / CH-8093 Zürich

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