These drawings are excerpts from Timberland, ongoing research aimed at recalibrating the relationship between material systems and urban patterns in the American city. Wood, the most ubiquitous—and sustainable—building material in use today, is used primarily to build single-family houses built at low densities, an unsustainable development model. Conversely, higher density districts are built with concrete and steel—the least sustainable materials. We are either using the right materials in the wrong manner or the wrong materials in the right manner.
Timberland confronts the conflict of efficiency and waste that characterizes the production of buildings and cities today by linking the benefits of building with wood to the benefits of building more densely. Most timber research focuses on the building scale alone, assuming that taller and bigger is better; Timberland, in contrast, works across scales, from panel to district, to produce variably dense and continuously differentiated urban settings.
A pixelated plan—produced in Excel—calculates a distribution of blocks of varying openness and density along a gradient from the loose aggregate of houses typically associated with suburban settings to the denser blocks of traditional city cores. This system is responsive to a range of situations, producing blocks that can be deployed as single instances, tuned to their specific context, or as districts with a varied range of densities and their associated urban qualities.
The four oblique views explore one such instance—a block with a density of 128 units/acre. The views extend the graphic language of the original Excel plan into three dimensions through the use of four different oblique methods—military, cavalier, cabinet and axonometric—that examine the spatial and formal qualities of the block from all sides. This intentionally anti-perspective method provides a means of comparatively assessing the spatial texture of the block in relation to the anchor typologies from which it was derived.