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Saw-Mill Shelter

Saw-Mill Shelter

Small Projects

Location: Beaminster
Architect: Architectural Association Design and Make students
Client: Architectural Association Hooke Park
Structural Engineer: Arup
Wood Species: British Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir and Larch

The Saw-mill Shelter, located in the Architectural Association estate, was designed and built by students with the help of the school faculty and Arup engineers. The shelter is a lightweight anticlastic timber net spanning nearly 11 metres, made up of timber laths only 38x38mm in section. To avoid imperfections, the laths were assembled from short sections using a glued finger-jointed scarfed splice. Each lath carries up to two tonnes of tension, demonstrating the remarkable strength of wood. Before construction a digital model was developed and analysed with form-finding techniques. Once the forces from the model were evaluated each fabricated lath was tested to the force that it would have to withstand with a large factor of safety. Once tested the laths were put into position and carefully stressed from the two ends in order to reach the final configuration. One of the supporting sides of the timber net is composed by an array of large steam-bent trunks. The roof surface is clad with aluminum sheet panels backed by plywood.