Folded Structures Lab

Research Group at the University of Queensland

Temporary Structures

Temporary and transitional housing is a critical component of post-disaster response and recovery. Their successful deployment requires structures to be low cost, easy to assemble, and with a capacity to adapt to local material and manufacturing availability. Research at the UQ Folded Structures Lab explores novel structural connection and assembly systems that enable rapid building construction with lightweight timber components.

Digitally-Fabricated Thin-Walled Sections

Modern factory automation enables the economic production of timber building components with sophisticated integral mechanical joints. This research investigates digitally fabricated thin-walled timber sections, evaluating the role of integral mechanical press-fit joints in structural behavior and failure mechanisms. Factors include material orientation, thickness, and joint tightness, are investigated to understand their impact on failure modes, including crushing and pop-off buckling modes. The research further delves into the compressive failure mechanisms of plywood box columns, highlighting the influence of localized defects and integral joint capacity. Further information: DOI:10.1142/S0219455419501268 and DOI:10.1142/S021945542150022X.

Tension Strap Connections

This research introduces a ‘strap joint’ for rapid assembly using lightweight timber and prefabricated panels. Utilizing low-cost, widely available packaging straps tensioned around timber, the joint forms a semi-rigid and adaptable structural connection. Comprehensive experimental, numerical, and theoretical studies assess its semi-rigid behavior, revealing a non-linear and highly ductile moment-rotation response due to strap elongation, timber bearing, and rotational deformation. The joint’s effectiveness in temporary housing is demonstrated through a portal frame model and a full-scale physical prototype. Further information: DOI:10.1016/j.engstruct.2022.114320

Gattas, J. M., Xu, S., Lu, Z., & Xin, Z.-Y. (2023). Post-tensioned strapping connections for rapid assembly of low-cost timber structures. In Proceedings of IASS annual symposia (Vol. 2023, pp. 1–12). International Association for Shell; Spatial Structures (IASS).

Xin, Z.-Y., Baber, K., & Gattas, J. M. (2022). A novel tension strap connection for rapid assembly of temporary timber structures. Engineering Structures, 262, 114320.

Xin, Z., & Gattas, J. (2020). Structural behaviours of integrally-jointed plywood columns with knot defects. International Journal of Structural Stability and Dynamics.

Alqaryouti, Y., Fernando, D., & Gattas, J. (2019). Structural behavior of digitally fabricated thin-walled timber columns. International Journal of Structural Stability and Dynamics, 19(10), 1950126.

Al-Qaryouti, Y., Gattas, J. M., Shi, R., & McCann, L. (2016). Digital fabrication strategies for timber thin-walled sections. In High performance and optimum design of structures and materials II (Vol. 166, p. 415). WIT Press.