The Bartlett School of Architecture


Skating the Ribbon

Bedir Bekar

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This project focuses on the lamination strategies employed in the manufacture of glued-laminated or ‘engineered’ timber, challenging the predominantly subtractive approach in manufacturing free-form and structurally optimised members. It asks whether an isotropic engineering logic hinders the design potential of a natural material.

By exploring a design logic closer to the nature of a tree’s growth, design potential is explored for creating tapering, swelling and branching composite components, using various wood species and lamella resolutions to create structures that are tuned for stress and flexibility. 

Skateboarding is used as an extreme load-case for the development of sculptural artefacts. These question the notion of ‘complete rigidity’ common in contemporary architectural design, using skateboarding as the vehicle to challenge notions of how we interact with physical space and objects. The project draws on personal experiences as a skateboarder and engineer, investigating the internal design dialogue within an intuitive construction process and what design affordances this presents.

From the manufacture of jigs for adaptive design during the making process, to the composite constructions using cold-bent and steam-bent timber components to give structures that the rider can leverage for additional speed and launching height, this project investigates the dialogue of ‘feel’ and performance of timber structures.  


1. Jig for compression-forming of tight radius steam-bent timber ‘teardrops’.
2. Lamination process and jig for forming flexible skateable sculptures.
3. 1:1 Prototype of skateable ‘ribbon’ sculpture and prepared springboard ‘teardrops’ inserts for later laminations.