Ecobuild pavilion 31.03.08

words Penelope Shaw

London Metropolitan University’s School of Architecture and Spatial Design created a pavilion made entirely out of composite timber constructed from 14 large panels. The aim of the pavilion is to demonstrate that timber is both kind to the environment and can be used as a building material without sacrificing architectural qualities.

Whilst exhibited at Ecobuild at Earl’s Court in February, the pavilion contained timber reproductions of architectural treasures including the Great Pyramid at Giza and Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, displayed on a raised level in “a room inside a room”. A walkway circles the internal room, providing views of the models from every angle.

To emphasise the ecological advantages of timber construction, the students made sure any waste materials were re-used. “We wanted to address the embodied energy of a building as well as its metabolism,” says David Grandorge, senior lecturer in structure, construction and materials. “So the pavilion will take on a new life as a studio space for artists Rut Blees Luxembourg and Hilary Koob Sassen at Hadspen in Somerset in June.”

The structure is made from Kerto S composite timber elements, with 12mm plywood clad around the entire interior. An open section of the roof allows light to flood into the inner room. “We wanted to be ambitious with the scale of the room,” says Grandorge, “but the dimensions of the structure were defined by the studio environment we were working in.”

The exterior of the pavilion was inspired by the students’ investigation into bare timber studwork. “We developed the language of the building from looking into studwork construction, Bernd and Hilla Becher’s photographs of framework houses in the Rhineland, as well as some of Frank Gehry’s early work,” says Grandorge.


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