When the opportunity arose to build a timber Gridshell for the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, we jumped at the chance. The basic concept is simple but the execution is anything but!
For lightness and strength the Gridshell is without equal. Once you have solved the problem of how to joint the chosen timber laths into long lengths, often over 50 metres, and assembled the grid onto the scaffold, the next challenge is to achieve the 3D form without over-stressing the joints. Though a lightweight and fragile structure in the temporary condition, once everything has been ‘locked off’, the structure becomes remarkably strong. The total weight of the timber lathes used in the Downland Gridshell, which is 50 x 15m on plan, is a mere 6 tons!
Our last major Gridshell project was for the Crown Estates and forms a visitor’s centre to Savill Gardens, in Windsor Great Park. The structure is fabricated in Larch grown in the Crown’s own forests and is of exceptional quality – close grained and with minimal defects.
Visionary buildings require visionary clients, and in the case of both these buildings, this was certainly the case.
"Thank you for the frame that you have just finished at Rogate. It was a miserable wet day, yesterday and John and team carried on regardless. We are delighted with the overall look and also the mouldings to the members. As usual, the frame was millimetre accurate and will be easy to take forward to complete the building."Bob, Trembath Associates
"We wanted to write to you to express our profound gratitude for the excellent work you have done on our building scheme. It cannot have been easy to pick up the project from another architect when there were still a number of issues unresolved, but you have done so brilliantly and remained calm throughout, even at fraught times. We really do appreciate that you have gone the extra mile for us. We have all enjoyed working with you and have been so impressed with the quality of your work."Alastair, The Early Years Project
"I wanted to drop you a quick note to show my appreciation for your guys efforts today; they were a pleasure to have around the house and worked hard to get the frame up today."Paul, Contracts Manager
"Just to say that it looks fabulous, and all who survey it are wonder-struck. Best wishes and many thanks to you all."Simon, National Trust
"Thanks for the excellent job which has just been completed on the Oak Frame extension to the above property. Not only is the quality of the work faultless, it is a true work of art, which will bring endless enjoyment to me and my wife. The end result has surpassed our wildest expectations."Ray Nicolaides