MultiPly in Madrid
9. March 2020
The fourth configuration of MultiPly, a pavilion made from twelve cross-laminated timber (CLT) modules, was on display in early February as part of the Madrid Design Festival, provoking visitors to reconsider how buildings and cities are constructed.
Location: Madrid Rio, Madrid, Spain
Architect: Waugh Thistleton Architects
Manufacturer: America Hardwood Export Council (AHEC)
Product: Cross-laminated Tulipwood
Lighting: SEAM Design
Before its recent iteration in Madrid Rio, MultiPly was on display in London as part of the 2018 London Design Festival and in Milan last year. Whereas each instance of the pavilion is recognizable as MultiPly, the modular CLT construction means the form changes depending on its location and other factors. The installation on the plaza of the Victoria & Albert Museum's redesigned Sackler Courtyard, for instance, had an irregular outline and massing that responded to the angles of Amanda Levete's courtyard design. Located at the entrance to Madrid Rio's Casa de Campo, next to a classically designed gate and on a formal axis, this year's pavilion was appropriately symmetrical: a cube made up smaller cubes that alternate between solid and void.
Regardless of its symmetry, the design by Waugh Thistleton Architects retained the maze-like qualities of its earlier iterations. Although, in architect Andrew Waugh's words, "the main objective of this project is to publicly discuss how environmental challenges can be addressed through innovative and affordable construction," the pavilion engaged visitors, inviting them to move up and through its stacked spaces. Put another way, messages related to climate change have the potential to be stronger and more memorable when expressed through creations that engage the body as well as the mind.
The main component of MultiPly, obviously, is the CLT made from North American Tulipwood. Per the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), MultiPly's 32 cubic meters of Tulipwood "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." AHEC asserts that even after harvesting the hardwood trees the volume of Tulipwood in U.S. forests increases by 19 million cubic meters every year.
Another important MultiPly component is the lighting installation designed by SEAM. Integrated into the geometry of the pavilion, the strip lights were intended to turn the "fun and playful" installation into a "quiet and contemplative space, allowing visitors to reflect on the beauty of its natural material."