Wander Wood

‘Sculpture is an art of the open air,’ said Henry Moore. ‘Daylight, sunlight, is necessary to it, and for me, its best setting and complement is nature.’

Just west of the central fountain at UBC, you’ll find an undulation of peekaboo wood playing with sunlight, standing proud amidst the trees. This sculpture – Wander Wood– has different stories to tell, depending on the angle of your approach. Wander in close, and you’ll see that it’s actually a bench.

The award-wining Wander Wood is the product of a joint workshop between UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, and the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing. Most intriguingly, it is robot made.

Led by professors AnnaLisa Meyboom, David Correa and Oliver David Krieg, a team of students and industry partners fabricated and assembled the I-beam structure over three days. Working with the team was a state-of-the art eight-axis industrial robot that allowed them to tap into the elastic properties of the wood.

‘Wood is a fascinating material,’ Correa, Krieg and Meyboom wrote in Canadian Architect. ‘From an early age, we become familiar with its smell, texture and warmth, yet we are seldom challenged to re-invent how to work with it.’

Using 2,200 rivets, 40 ribs and more than 200 overlapping skin elements, the designers forged a marriage between high-end technology and wood – a  renewable, sustainable, carbon-storing resource. ‘The pavilion implements the structural principle of a stressed skin,’ the trio write. ‘A system used in airplanes, where internal ribs form a template covered by thinner members elastically bent to form (or compute) the final shape.

The Wander Wood project won the 2019 Jury’s Choice Award at the 2019 Wood Design Awards in BC. Meyboom and the team earned plaudits for the way the piece ‘invokes movement, detail and texture.’

“I would emphasize the potential for wood to be the material of this century,” Professor Meyboom told The Ubyssey. “The questions is: what else can wood do?”

Written by Elizabeth Newton


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Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton