Timber Seasoning Shelter
The Timber Seasoning Shelter is a 150sqm canopy which provides rain-shelter for the stacked air-drying of Hooke Park sourced timber for use in ongoing projects. The canopy is constructed from a reciprocal grid of steam-bent lamellas fabricated from Hooke Park’s beech trees (fagus sylvatica). The annual thinning of European Beech trees planted in the 1950s creates large volumes of timber with value only as firewood, despite being one of the strongest and hardest species grown in England. Identifying a long tradition of its use in steam bent furniture, the students began to research innovative methods for using Beech in an architectural construction.
With Workshop Manager Charlie Corrywright, the team developed a steam bending machine capable of producing unique components using adjustable pneumatic rams. This allowed each 2m-long plank to be bent to a unique curvature according to its place within the structure (which contains a total of 148 unique paired elements). The hexagonal reciprocal pattern meant that a continuous structure could be built out of relatively short pieces of timber – the maximum length of reasonable quality that could be viably extracted from the trees felled.
Large patches of the roof were pre-assembled inside of the Big Shed, and then craned into position. The PVC-polyester membrane is tensioned by ‘push-ups’ formed by extensions of the bolts that connect the beech lamella elements and by tension lines connected to a perimeter beam of doubly-curved glue-laminated elements.