Over the past year PROJECTiONE has been engaged in an ongoing project, focused on innovative fabrication techniques paired with traditional materials, in partnership with the Institute for Digital Fabrication. reBarn began in November of 2008 with a large donation of reclaimed barn wood from the Newton family’s local “Pennsylvania-style” barn. Working with the Muncie parks system, West Side Park was chosen for its potential to enhance the public recreational trail along the White River in Muncie, Indiana. reBarn aims to provide single or multiple users with a semi-programmed platform that is suitable for a variety of uses. While its use is not specifically determined, a sense of human scale and proportions is embedded in the layout of the panels, and its form is pulled specifically from the site as it creates a third levee above the river.

It was important for us to use the wood as efficiently as possible, maintain the history and quality of the material, and employ innovative strategies for its application. Rather than completely removing all imperfections, we made the decision to utilize the uniqueness of each piece and expose this on the project’s surface. In order to make milling of the barn wood viable, each piece was de-nailed, power washed, and any area that was unusable was removed. Each board was then numbered and its species, length, width, depth, and interesting characteristics were recorded. The quantity of stock totaled 275 pieces, averaging at 80 inches long and 6.5 inches wide with a consistent depth around1 inch for a total of about 300,000 square feet.

Cut files for each wood component were created using an unrolled version of the 3D model in Rhino. This catalog of digital dimensions of available wood allowed us to efficiently and precisely nest the digital cut files into the stock. Because each board was a different size and many were torqued or bowed, a unique process was developed to secure the wood to the bed of the router. Using the table’s suction a sheet of plywood became the waste board, while each piece of barn wood was drilled down to the waste board with several screws, securing every part nested in the board. The position of each of these screws had to be carefully determined before the milling process and written into the files.

Connections between individual wood components and panels were informed by a partnership with Zahner Metals. In order to offset the traditional material and hidden fabrication techniques, we involved Zahner in the process early on. We visited their shop in Kansas City to discuss materials, tolerances, and processes. The continued discussions with their engineers via phone and email allowed our team to finalize the aluminum components. This resulted in five water jet cut aluminum surface panels, and over 350 variable aluminum joints.

Each three or four sided wood panel is made up of a series of individual components, connected by a continuous dovetail joint that runs around the perimeter. The wood panels are connected to each other by aluminum joints, embed in the assembly process. Each aluminum joint accommodates the specific angle between one panel of wood and its adjoining panel. Consideration of the sequence of assembly and fabrication was equally important as the development of the joinery techniques.

All pre-assembly and fabrication has been completed. In-site installation will take place in November.

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