31.08.2021. Boat and furniture builders have been bending wood for many years, to meet hydrodynamic and ergonomic requirements. In buildings, however, these techniques are relatively uncommon.

Sculpting wood to reach the desired shape is always an option, however, this usually results in plenty of waste. Besides, a skilled workforce is required.

One of the first methods of bending wood is heating. The wood is immersed for several hours in a steam box, i.e. a high-temperature oven, with a lot of moisture. The heat and steam relax the wood fibres making them very flexible. Once the pieces are out, they can be easily ‘modelled’ on a previously made mould.


Organic ceremorning Random Play AIR

Air architects conceived the façade of the Random Art gallery in Hangzhou (China, photo © Chen Hao) as a wooden Noren, a traditional Japanese room divider. It furls up at one corner, giving the illusion of wind blowing


Another solution is, using straight components to create the illusion of organic volumes. That is exactly what French architect Mallet-Stevens did in Croix (France), where tilted rectangles create the impression of a tunnel.

Organic Mallet Stevens Croix Jacques d Oleron

This iconic tilted wood tunnel is one of the attractions of the Mallet-Stevens gardens in Croix (France, photos © Jacques d’Oleron). The location is an oasis for visitors


Yet, with the increasingly widespread use of wood as a primary building material, architects have directly sought to create organic forms for wooden structures, with several examples already having been made from Glued Laminated Timber.

Organic Forgemind ArchiMedia Pompidou Metz

The timber roof of the Centre Pompidou Metz (photo © Forgemind ArchiMedia), designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, is particularly spectacular. Each of the 1,600 glued laminated wood elements has a specific shape, thanks to perfectly mastered digital techniques


More recently, researchers from ETH Zurich and the University of Stuttgart have developed a technique allowing wood to bend ‘naturally’. A controlled drying process makes wooden panels bend into a pre-​set shape without any mechanical force.

Organic ICD ITKE UniversityofStuttgart 3

Wooden building elements that bend themselves into shape as in the Urbach Tower (Germany) could be a boost for the timber construction sector




INTERHOLCO offers Sustainable Hardwood 'Made in Africa' as a responsible solution to promote better living conditions (construction with wood), reduce climate change, and increase social justice. As FSC-certified producer specialized in producing and trading logs, sawn timber, glued laminated scantlings and other products, INTERHOLCO manages the entire chain, from forest to customers since 1962. Harvesting wood selectively, INTERHOLCO protects 1.1 million hectares of natural forest from permanent conversion to agricultural land, giving 16’000 local inhabitants access to quality basic services and keeping the habitat of thousands of gorillas and elephants.

Communications contact INTERHOLCO

Tullia Baldassarri Höger von Högersthal
INTERHOLCO AG, Neuhofstr. 25, 6340 Baar, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 (0)41 767 03 82
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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