A new way to design and build our houses and cities

MultiPly, an eight metre high, carbon neutral, timber pavilion, made exclusively from American tulipwood, opens to the public in Madrid Rio at its entrance to the Casa de Campo, as part of the Madrid Design Festival, on the 1st of February and will remain open for two weeks.

The 32 metres cubed of tulipwood used for MultiPly stores the equivalent of 22 tonnes of carbon dioxide and is naturally replaced with new growth in the U.S. forests in less than two minutes.

The installation is a collaboration between Waugh Thistleton Architects, the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and ARUP, and responds to two of the greatest challenges of our time: the growing need for housing and the urgency to fight climate change, presenting as a solution the combination of modular systems and sustainable building materials.

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 constructed from a flexible system of 12 CLT modules of American tulipwood with digitally manufactured joints, as if it were a piece of furniture ready to assemble. Because it is composed of modules, the construction can be disassembled and reassembled. It was first shown as part of London Design Festival in 2018, in the Sackler Courtyard of the Victoria and Albert Museum, outside the Building Centre in London with New London Architecture, and then at the Universite deglie Studi di Milano, as part of Interni’s ‘Human Spaces’ exhibition at Milan Design Week 2019, and is presented here in Madrid for its fourth iteration. 

“The main objective of this project is to publicly discuss how environmental challenges can be addressed through innovative and affordable construction,” says Andrew Waugh, co-founder of Waugh Thistleton Architects – a practice that has been at the forefront of wood construction for decades. “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 2018, the population of the Eurozone’s fastest growing major economy, Spain, increased to 47 million – the fastest annual growth since 2009. In order to keep up with population growth in ever- expanding cities, in a way that is not harmful to our planet, it is crucial to utilise new technologies that use sustainable materials. Off-site timber construction, that can provide quick-to-assemble, high quality housing with low carbon emissions, provides a viable solution.

“Waugh Thistleton Architects have been pioneers in innovative uses of wood in construction for decades. MultiPly explores a new and more sustainable form of construction that combines an available negative carbon material, such as American tulipwood, with modular design,” says David Venables, European Director of AHEC.