AA Design & Make students test the limits of timber in tensile woodland canopy - architecture and design

AA Design & Make students test the limits of timber in tensile woodland canopy



A sculptural, tensile timber canopy has been constructed in Dorset woodland by five students from the Architectural Association as part of the school's Design & Make programme.

Built on the school's Hooke Park forest campus in Dorset, England, Sawmill Shelter provides rain cover for the campus' sawmill and its operator.
However, it also forms part of an ongoing investigation into the potential of lightweight timber construction.

"The canopy forms a test-bed for the experimental prototyping of structural systems that will be deployed in the next planned construction at Hooke Park ? a lecture hall and library that will form the academic centre of the campus," said the team.
"The main investigation was to test the limits of use of timber in tension in the form of an anticlastic surface that can resist both snow loads and wind uplift."
When designing the shelter, the students had to consider the existing 50 square metre concrete slab, while also catering for the access and movement of the various pieces of machinery.
Using western red cedar harvested from the surrounding woodland, the sculptural canopy is formed of timber laths that span 11 metres over the existing slab.

To remove imperfections these laths have been assembled from shorter sections, using a glued finger-jointed scarfed splice that was developed on campus.
"Each lath carries up to two tonnes of tension, demonstrating the remarkable ? and generally under-exploited ? strength of w...
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