MultiPly, a carbon neutral installation at Madrid Design Festival 2020

ARUP, Waugh Thistleton Architects,




Madrid Design Festival, Event,

MultiPly, an eight-metre-high wooden pavilion is a collaboration between Waugh Thistleton Architects, the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and ARUP to respond to two of the greatest challenges of our time: the growing need for housing and the urgency to fight change climate, presenting as a solution the fusion of modular systems and sustainable building materials.

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MultiPly, a carbon neutral installation at Madrid Design Festival 2020 As it had proposed under the slogan of the 2020 edition, Redesigning the World, the Madrid Design Festival investigated innovative and sustainable solutions to tackle the challenges of our time. Without question, one of these is the response to the increasingly pressing need for housing on the one hand and the need to keep down the environmental impact of the construction operations on the other, given that the building industry accounts for a great deal of our planet’s carbon emissions.
The MultiPly installation, a collaboration between Waugh Thistleton Architects - a London based practice that has been at the forefront of wood construction for decades, the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and ARUP seeks to respond to those questions. The 8-metre-high pavilion is made of Tulipwood (Liriodendron tulipifera), an American hardwood still relatively unknown in the European market, a commercial tree species that grows on the eastern side of North America. The 32 m3 of Tulipwood used to form MultiPly stores the equivalent of 22 tonnes of carbon dioxide and as a renewable resource, the wood is naturally replaced with new growth in the U.S. forests in less than two minutes.
MultiPly is comprised of a maze-like series of interconnected spaces that overlap and intertwine. The installation has been designed and constructed to encourage visitors to re-think the way we design and build our homes and cities. Because it is composed of 12 CLT modules, the construction is demountable so it can be reassembled elsewhere, a bit like a piece of furniture. MultiPly was first shown at the London Design Festival in 2018, in the Sackler Courtyard of the Victoria and Albert Museum, then at the University of Milan as part of Interni’s Human Spaces exhibition at Milan Design Week 2019. It was presented during Madrid Design Week for its third iteration, also because the population in Spain has risen dramatically in recent years and the shortage of decent housing is becoming an increasingly serious problem.
During the day, MultiPly is a place for fun and games. The maze-like spaces guide visitors through a series of stairs, corridors and open spaces, inviting them to explore the potential of wood in architecture. At dusk, with subtle lighting, the pavilion becomes a quiet and contemplative space where visitors can meditate on the beauty of the natural material it is made from.
Andrew Waugh, the co-founder of Waugh Thistleton Architects, explains: “The main objective of this project is to publicly discuss how environmental challenges can be addressed through innovative and affordable construction. We are at a point of crisis in terms of housing and CO2 emissions and we believe that building with a versatile and sustainable material such as tulipwood is an important way to address these problems.” In order to keep up with population growth in ever-expanding cities, in a way that isn’t detrimental to our planet, it is crucial to adopt new technologies that use sustainable materials. The Madrid Design Festival was the perfect platform to showcase what can be done.

Christiane Bürklein

Project: Waugh Thistleton Architects with ARUP
Location: Madrid, Spain
Year: 2020 
Images: courtesy of Madrid Design Festival