Waugh Thistleton Architects, the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and ARUP are collaborating to present ‘MultiPly’, a modular cross-laminated tulipwood pavilion, in the Sackler courtyard of the V&A from 15 September.
‘MultiPly’, one of London Design Festival’s Landmark projects, will be comprised of a maze-like series of interconnected spaces that overlap and intertwine, and will encourage visitors to re-think the way we design and build our homes and cities.
The three-dimensional structure will be built out of a flexible system, made of 17 modules of American tulipwood cross-laminated timber (CLT) with digitally fabricated joints. Like a piece of flat-packed furniture, it will arrive as a kit of parts and will be simply and quietly assembled in under a week Because it is built out of modules, the pavilion can be taken apart and reassembled in a new home after the London Design Festival.
‘MultiPly’ confronts two of the current age’s biggest challenges – the dire need for housing and the urgency to fight climate change and presents the fusion of modular systems and sustainable construction materials as a solution.
“The main ambition of this project is to publicly debate how environmental challenges can be addressed through innovative, affordable construction,” says Andrew Waugh, co-founder of Waugh Thistleton. “We are at a crisis point in terms of both housing and CO2 emissions and we believe that building in a versatile, sustainable material such as tulipwood is an important way of addressing these issues.”
View of MulitPly at the Sackler Courtyard at the V&A
During the day, the 9-metre high American tulipwood installation promises to be fun and playful. The labyrinthine spaces will lead visitors through a series of stairs, corridors and open spaces, inviting them to explore the potential of wood in architecture. In the evenings, with subtle lighting, the pavilion will become a quiet and contemplative space, allowing visitors to reflect on the beauty of its natural material.
“The structure will lead people on a merry dance up and down staircases and across bridges exploring space and light,” says Waugh.
‘MultiPly’ has a high level of permeability to allow views through to the facade and courtyard, but also to entice viewers into the structure, so that they can experience new, carefully considered views to the existing heritage facades of the V&A.
“Waugh Thistleton Architects has been pioneering innovative uses of wood in construction for decades. ‘MultiPly’ explores a new, more sustainable way of building, bringing together a readily available carbon-negative material – American tulipwood – with modular design,” says David Venables, European director of AHEC. “AHEC has worked with many great architects – David Adjaye, Amanda Levete, Alex de Rijke, Alison Brooks, and now Waugh Thistleton – to demonstrate the structural, aesthetic and environmental properties of American tulipwood CLT.”
Carolina Bartram, project director, Arup commented: “Continuing our exploration of hardwood CLT on installations such as The Timberwave, The Smile and Endless Stair, MultiPly provides a playful opportunity to experiment and innovate with this tactile and adaptable material. The seemingly simple series of stacked boxes are a complex engineering challenge, made more interesting by the fact the sculpture sits on the newly completed, elegant Sackler Courtyard at the V&A. It is a privilege that as engineers for the Sackler Courtyard, we are also contributing engineering designs for Multiply.”