The Clover wall was part of the “Now & Next” installation developed for the 5th International Insulation Cork Conference in Lisbon. Commissioned by Amorim Isolamentos, it sought to unveil different possibilities to use cork in architecture by means of digital fabrication technologies.
The Clover Wall is a 2×2 meters wall part, which explores the possibility of perforating cork. To challenge the robotic production, the design of the openings was defined by the ruled surface geometry resulting from lofting a circle with a clover contour. Since regular 3-axis CNC machines could not fabricate such perforations, the experiment used a water-jet cutting system mounted in a robot at CEIIA company in Porto. Cork is a material suited for this kind of wet process, which produces a smooth finishing surface with just a single cutting pass. However, due to the slanting geometry of the openings and the near-zero thickness of the water jet, each hole had to be cut following two different contours in order to be possible to remove the inner part. A later experience with robotic milling overcame that limitation since the thickness of the milling tool facilitates the extraction of the resulting interior piece. Furthermore, this last fabrication process is more flexible than water-jet to produce a wider range of geometric solutions.
The Clover Wall installation ended up demonstrating the possibility to produce interior wall partitions in cork with variable visual permeability, while taking advantage of the acoustic properties of this natural material.