Sawmill Shelter

Project film from the Sawmill Shelter project produced by NK Kuo.


A lightweight timber net erected to investigate the limits of timber in tension. Further research included the bending of large diameter trees in the round.

This project centres on an 11 meter clear spanning canopy which deploys slender pieces of timber as though they were steel cables or ropes. The long laths were assembled from short sections using a glued finger-jointed splice after imperfections were removed given the ambitiously thin section (38x38mm) used. Fully assembled and loaded, each lath carries up to two tonnes of longitudinal force.

Finding that the overall assembled geometry of the net varied from our design models, as studio tutor for the program I worked closely with students to develop a method for manually surveying nodes of the structure after 3D scanning tests were found impractical. From these accurate as-built measurements, a CNC patterned aluminium roof was designed, fabricated in the workshop, and riveted together on site.

Concurrent research explored the large-scale steam bending of whole trees. A set of 18 of these elements were used to support one end of the canopy.

NK Kuo
Evgenia Spyridonos
Eleni McKirahan
Rolando Madrigal

Charley Brentnall
Charlie Corrywright
Christopher Sadd
Edward Coe
Francis Archer
Jack Cardno
Martin Self
Valerie Bennett (Photography)