Traditional craft weds digital tech

The Burr Puzzle tower in Yilan, Taiwan, is based on the structure of a three-axes burr puzzle which has thousands of years of history. By using digital modelling software (Rhino with Grasshopper), architect Cheng Tsung of Feng Design Studio created a tower that is gradually transformed from solid to void.

People are welcome to walk into the tower of interlocking wooden planks, where there are 12 golden marks in the tunnel to show the operable burr puzzles. You can push them gently to see the ingenious structure of the burr puzzle.

This artwork, a 9-metre-high pavilion, sparked a combination between traditional craft and modern digital technology.

Located in Yilan’s Park of the National Center for Traditional Arts, the installation consists of planks and notched sticks that are joined to build a three-dimensional symmetrical system.

Apart from Japanese cedar wood planks and steel support, the Burr Puzzle Tower includes LED light strips that illuminate it at night. The Yilan installation spans 320 cm (length), 260 cm (width) and 900 cm (height).

Burr puzzles are traditionally made of wood, but versions made of plastic or metal can also be found. Quality burr puzzles are usually precision-made for easy sliding and accurate fitting of the pieces.

In recent years the definition of ‘burr’ is expanding, as designers use this name for puzzles not necessarily for stick-based pieces. The term is attributed to the finished shape of many of these puzzles, resembling a seed burr.

These burrs can be taken apart directly by removing a piece or some pieces in one move. To assemble all these puzzles, one would need a set of 485 pieces, as some of the puzzles include identical pieces.



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