20 May 2022

Wooden dome made entirely from demolition waste

Team at ETH Zurich use digital fabrication to construct geodesic dome.

© Daniel Winkler

A research group from ETH Zurich, Switzerland, has used digital fabrication methods to make a wooden geodesic dome entirely from demolition waste.

The waste was sourced at an old car depot in Geneva scheduled for demolition, dismantling an entire floor of the building, yielding OSB panels, wooden beams, steel girders and plastic piping.

Using digital fabrication, the optimum geometry and dimensions of the dome were calculated based on the available timber. It was programmed to avoid cutting the biggest beams into small pieces and to use up as much of the wood as possible.

The wooden beams were cut into rectangular struts of varying lengths with each piece of wood engraved with a clearly visible QR code that links directly to its materials passport. The team screwed the ends of the wooden struts onto ring-shaped connectors, made from a salvaged plastic sewage pipe. 

However, using a CNC milling machine, the group cut salvaged chipboard into discs that fit into the rings, improving the dome’s stability and adding to the aesthetics. In all, it took three days to construct the dome.