MultiPly takes centre stage in Milan

12 April 2019

MultiPly, a 10m-high, carbon-neutral pavilion made entirely of American tulipwood has opened to the public in the courtyard of the University of Milan and it will remain there until April 19 as part of the curated Interni Human Spaces exhibition for Milan Design Week (Fuorisalone).

The installation was originally one of the Landmark Projects as part of the London Design Festival and shown in the Sackler Courtyard of the V&A Museum in London in September 2018.

This ground-breaking collaboration between Waugh Thistleton Architects, the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), ARUP, and SEAM illustrates how modular cross-laminated construction in hardwood is a viable solution to the current housing crisis, and its new inception in Italy shows how easily it can be reconfigured to meet the users’ needs.

“The main ambition of this project is to publicly debate how environmental challenges can be addressed through innovative, affordable construction,” said Andrew Waugh, co-founder of Waugh Thistleton Architects, a studio that has been at the forefront of engineered timber construction for decades. “We are at a crisis point in terms of CO2 emissions and we believe that building in a versatile, sustainable material, such as tulipwood, is an important way of addressing this issue.”

“Waugh Thistleton Architects have been pioneering innovative uses of wood in construction for decades,” said David Venables, European director of AHEC. “MultiPly explores a new, more sustainable way of building, bringing together a readily available carbon-negative material – American tulipwood – with modular design.

“The point of this project is to show that modular, affordable construction, en masse, in timber, is possible, especially when you have reusable panels. The new structure is responding to its new environment, and will provide an extraordinary visitor experience and views of the historic courtyard in Milan.”

The 40m3 of tulipwood that make up MultiPly store the equivalent of 28 tonnes of carbon dioxide and are replaced with natural growth in the American forest in five minutes.

MultiPly is comprised of a maze-like series of interconnected spaces that overlap and intertwine. It has been conceived and constructed to encourage visitors to re-think the way we design and build our homes and cities.

The three-dimensional structure is built out of a flexible system, made of 16 modules of American tulipwood CLT, with digitally fabricated joints. Like a piece of flat-packed furniture, the pavilion arrived as a kit of parts and was assembled in under a week.

The pavilion demonstrates how, through using engineered timber and modular construction, buildings can be deconstructed, reconfigured and repurposed at the end of their life. Because it is built out of modules, the pavilion has easily been taken apart in London and reassembled in a completely new configuration in Milan.