Catch A Wave
By Diana Budds / Published by Dwell

When John Matosky hired Merge Architects to upgrade his loft, it was a pretty standard project—renovate the existing lackluster bathroom, add a second bathroom, and build a bookshelf. But Elizabeth Whittaker, firm principal and an adjunct assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, saw an opportunity to do a little material research on how to create a three-dimensional wall.

Merge Architects wrapped the peg wall around three sides of a bathroom to hide a door and provide a storage for books and knick knacks.

Merge Architects wrapped the peg wall around three sides of a bathroom to hide a door and provide a storage for books and knick knacks.


An undulating wall made from over 40,000 dowels adds a dose of awe to a Massachusetts loft.

photos by: John Horner

“I built my practice out of making projects from non-projects,” she says. “John didn’t ask for this type of surface treatment, but we had some renderings, showed them to him, and he went for it.” For the bookshelf—essentially an oversized peg-board wall that wraps around a bathroom—Merge blends handcraftsmanship and digital tooling. These techniques are writ large through the repetition of an inexpensive, everyday object: the dowel.

High-tech fabrication meets low-tech in the end result. The architects modeled the gradation in Rhino, a computer program; calculated the precise length of each maple dowel needed to create each wave; CNC-milled the peg-board; and used elbow grease for the 80-hour final assembly. “It was literally peg, glue, stick in hole,” explains Whittaker.

Using a computer program, Merge Architects calculated the precise length each dowel would have to be trimmed to create a three-dimensional wall."The design concept was an elaboration and further research on another project we did called MiniLuxe—a series of Nail Salons—that just used the CNC cut panels as a flat surface to create a branding mechanism for their services," says Whittaker.

A detail shot of the dowels.

A detail shot of the dowels.


Diana Budds


A New York-based writer, Diana studied art history and environmental policy at UC Davis. Before rising to Senior Editor at Dwell—where she helped craft product coverage, features, and more—Diana worked in the Architecture and Design departments at MoMA and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She counts finishing a 5K as one of her greatest accomplishments, gets excited about any travel involving trains, and her favorite magazine section is Rewind. Learn more about Diana at:

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