The Bartlett School of Architecture


Bending Active Timber

Sotiris Monachogios

Active bending is the use of elastic deformation of a material to generate form. As a result of inherent material performance, active bending structures demonstrate a close alignment between form and material capacity. This contrasts other strategies such as the discretisation of smooth surfaces into faceted panels which approximate the curved form.

This project explores the potential of actively bent plywood sheets for creating lightweight structures that also display material honesty and agency. This is achieved by creating a bidirectional relationship between two or more bent plywood sheets: the sheets act against each other in bending, held in tension by a ‘forest’ of struts or pegs which tie the surfaces together. A smooth spatial structure can therefore be created – an actively bent space truss – hinting at applications for dynamic, lightweight structures, furniture, or aerodynamics.


1. Small scale prototype of intelligent nodes with pegs forming the two surfaces
2. Single pegs between curved bottom surface and guide top surface
3. Formation of segmented surfaces and peg lamination test on jig