The Giraffe Pavilion

The Giraffe Pavilion

The shell is formed of flat polygonal plywood panels, connected at the edges with hinges and faceted to form a dramatic curved shape. The name derives from the panel shapes which mimic the pattern of a giraffe’s colouring.

A doubly curved timber shell, an assembly of simple, readily available materials – plywood, hinges and adhesive – housed the TRADA pavilion at this year’s Timber Expo in Coventry.

The shell is formed of flat polygonal plywood panels, connected at the edges with hinges and faceted to form a dramatic curved shape. The name derives from the panel shapes which mimic the pattern of a giraffe’s colouring. The shell itself is a practical demonstration of how simple timber elements can produce innovative structural forms of great elegance.

The idea for the pavilion originated when Rupert Scott, TRADA membership and marketing manager, visited the London offices of Ramboll and saw a timber gridshell structure which had been erected in the foyer. Could Ramboll’s structural engineers design a similar innovative structure for the TRADA stand at the forthcoming Timber Expo in September 2012? “What we wanted to do at Timber Expo” explains Rupert, “was to fire the imagination and show what was possible in timber. The constructional products and services of about 150 companies in the timber sector are on show at Timber Expo. As host of the show we wanted a stand which showed how timber has the potential to achieve innovative and exciting structural forms”. Although the structure was designed using very sophisticated techniques, the final result is a beautifully simple structure of plywood, hinges and glued joints.

More case studies

In 2015, the architectural practice Squire and Partners purchased a dilapidated three storey department store in the centre of Brixton.

In 2019 an explosion of colour appeared on the sedate lawn of Dulwich Picture Gallery. It was the Colour Palace, a timber pavilion painted in exuberant geometric patterns and stripes in a kaleidoscope of zinging neon colours.