Savill Garden Gridshell

Completed in 2006, the technically demanding Savill Building, a descendant of the Weald and Downland Museum’s gridshell, utilized new sawn Larch (50 x 85mm) from Crown Estates’ forests for the timber laths. These were finger-jointed into continuous lengths and assembled in situ over a scaffold deck, achieving its 3D form with adjustable props. The structure, composed of four layers of laths separated by blocking, was locked to the steel ring beam. Visitor numbers doubled to over 500,000 yearly after completion.

Glenn Howells Architects led the design in collaboration with Buro Happold, and The Green Oak Carpentry Company acted as specialist consultants. The Crown Estates’ Larch, of high quality, formed the structure. This shell spans 100 meters in length and 32 meters at its widest. A 400×20 CHS steel ring beam was supported by V-shaped steel supports, extending into a covered external seating area. The Green Oak Carpentry Company’s involvement extended to designing the roof canopy and concealing connections.

Awards, including The Wood Awards Gold and the Institute of Structural Engineers Supreme Award, commend this remarkable timber structure, a testament to exceptional collaboration and innovative craftsmanship.

Architect: Glenn Howells Architects

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