DESIGNER(S): Glen Stellmacher, Meghan Dorrian


If you appreciate the ' ProtoTimber’ proposal, you can make a virtual vote by sharing a link to this page on your preferred social media platform. We are tracking each project proposal page on the back end and will give a special 'Popular Vote Grant' for $500 to the project that has been shared the most by September 16th.


ESTIMATED COST: The SDF grant will be used to facilitate a portion of administrative costs for the workshop.

TIMELINE: Our goal is to coordinate the workshop with the Summer 2016 Architectural Association Visiting School program.

DREAM MENTOR: Thomas Heatherwick or Terunobu Fujimori

Seattle is undergoing radical growth and transformation. Mayor Ed Murray’s Seattle Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) outlines many potentials for creating an equitable and enjoyable city for all. The HALA report recommends that Seattle’s significant housing shortage requires innovative architectural methods for design and delivery. ProtoTimber, acts to address this urgent imperative in combination with the prolific potentials of forest resources surrounding the city itself. Through a taught workshop, ProtoTimber provides a dedicated platform for emerging international students of architecture to experiment in timber construction while fulfilling an imminent need for the community as whole.


Fundamentally, the workshop is a vehicle for exchanging ideas and conceptions of architecture from varied backgrounds and cultures through discourse and physical experimentation. Students and instructors will work to formulate proposals and prototypes of low cost timber construction systems for a urban housing module. While the format of a workshop allows intimate cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary engagement, it also facilitates deep connections to materiality.
At its core, the workshop is based in tangible connections to timber and the resulting human consequences of its use. We will meet with foresters, scientists, architects, fabricators, engineers and the community to create a truly broad and encompassing view of architecture from its growing roots to social value. Human- human connection is as equally stressed as our human-material connection. Our collective engagement with materials as humans has acted to create unique and enduring cultures across the globe. In an age of digital processing, we are losing this human-material connection in favor of technical evolution. However, we still fundamentally rely on natural resources to mitigate climate change, produce building components, and provide essential shelter for the social activities of humans.
This workshop is about discovering and prototyping new connections between our human propensity for ingenuity and the potentials of natural processes and materials. As a holistic endeavor, the program ensures to create life long relationships, empower the community, and equip students with skills to holistically address built intervention from the avenues of forestry, design and craft to social science.


Two of the major issues facing humanity in the 21st century will be climate change and housing. ProtoTimber addresses both simultaneously in a format highly conducive to the free flow of ideas. Prototypical approaches to timber design and manufacturing are explored in the workshop environment at a variety of scales. These explorations will inevitably influence new techniques for manufacturing.
The US Economic Development Association has classified the Pacific Northwest as a new center for innovative timber manufacturing. While this designation provides immense potential for our region, architects and designers must engage in the dialogue of wood product manufacturing. As a classic example of chicken or the egg, did we ask for 2x4s or were we given 2x4s? Now is the time to shape new innovative methods of designing shelter, including the raw materials we deploy in the field. Ultimately it is the final resolution of design and construction which either produce waste, or employ materials and techniques rooted in an analysis of the entire supply chain of timber processing and cultivation.
Partnerships with the University of Washington College of Built Environments, College of Forestry, Architectural Association School of Architecture, City of Seattle, the US Forest Products Research Center and local communities are sure to create a lasting and valuable practice of design research seething with energy and tangible social outcomes.