Building a plywood house
The WikiHouse Foundation has developed a plywood building system that can be downloaded anywhere in the world. Plywood pieces can be cut locally on a CNC router and assembled on site by anyone, using readily available tools.
A CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine is run by a computer programme. Plywood is cut by two types of CNC machine: CNC routers, which cut both two- and three-dimensionally with rotating cutting bits called end mills, and CNC laser cutters, which use laser beams to cut two-dimensionally. Both machines allow much faster, more complex and precise cutting than was previously possible.
Plywood is a particularly good material for CNC cutting because it is strong, stable and made to a standard, worldwide specification. Its strength and stability mean it can be easily jointed – pieces can be cut from a sheet and notched together, without additional fixtures. Due to the material’s standardisation, a design can be reliably cut anywhere in the world, using a single digital file.
Produced as part of the V&A exhibition Plywood: Material of the Modern World (15 July – 12 November 2017) https://www.vam.ac.uk/plywood
Sponsored by MADE.COM. Supported by the American Friends of the V&A
Find out more about plywood with our fascinating exhibition book, Plywood: A Material Story