Wood That Wows: Partisan's Bar Raval Is a Ravalation

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©. Jonathan Friedman

I wasn't going to write about Bar Raval, designed by Partisans, until I had been able to go there and see it. However it is so popular that it is hard to get in, and it just won the AIA R&D; award, so I am writing it now, even though I know it shouldn't be discussed without being seen and felt. Partisans designed the Grotto Sauna that was perhaps the most talked about bit of design produced last year, and Bar Raval is the talk of Toronto this year. The engineering behind it is as amazing as the architecture.

wood details bar raval

© Jonathan Friedman

Jenny Jones writes in Architect Magazine:

Taking cues from Antoni Gaudí, Partisans hand-sketched drawings and hand-carved foam and clay models to refine the panels’ appearance. Then came the challenge of converting 3D lines into a format that a five-axis CNC router could understand.
partisan details

© Partisans

After 3D scanning their foam and clay models, the designers worked with local fabricator Millworks Custom Manufacturing (MCM) to CNC-mill 1-square-foot samples to determine which wood type and which bit size would provide the desired effect. Ultimately, they selected mahogany and a 1-inch bit. Their prototypes, however, revealed a problem: warping and shrinking due to wood’s hydroscopic and anisotropic properties. The defects were most palpable at panel joints, where the carved ribbing no longer aligned. To minimize visual disruptions, reduce deflections, and increase the panels’ durability during fabrication, Partisans designed an “S”-seam that allows the panels’ edges to be perpendicular to the carvings.
cutting wood for bar raval

© Jonathan Friedman

This really is wood that wows. Alex Bozikovic of the Globe and Mail described it as wood "sculpted into voluptuous bulges and scored with an intricate pattern of lines generated by computer code."