TRADA Pavilion

Ramboll, Coventry & London, 2012


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Graham Lee     Download Original

  • Plan    
  • Elevation A    
  • Elevation B    
  • Form finding    
  • Geometry Schematic    
  • Test    
  • Connection detail    

Compressive shell structure made from low cost flat plywood polygons as a trade fair pavilion for TRADA

The TRADA (Timber Research and Development Association) Pavilion is a trade fair stand designed by the Ramboll Computational Design team. It was recently used at the Timber Expo (September, 2012) and will be used again by TRADA at EcoBuild (March 2013).

The efficient compressive shell was generated using a computer form-finding process similar to the physical methods pioneered by Antoni Gaudí, Frei Otto and Heinz Isler. A special meshing algorithm was used to subdivide the shell into flat birch plywood polygons which could be easily manufactured using a 3-axis flat-bed CNC router.

The doubly curved nature of the shell provides sufficient geometric restraint to allow a standard door hinge to be used along each edge. A constant gap means no single panel timber touches any other in the structure.

We believe the pavilion shows that structurally efficient shell structures can be realised cheaply and sustainably by using appropriate computational methods.


  • Begun: Sep 2012
  • Completed: Sep 2012
  • Floor area: 20m2
  • Sector: Retail
  • Total cost: £13,000
  • Funding: Timber Research and Development Association
  • Tender date: Sep 2012
  • Procurement: n/a
  • Address: To date: Rioch Arena, Coventry & Excel Centre, London, Coventry & London, CV6 6GE & E16 1XL, United Kingdom

Professional Team


  • Timber fire treatment: Dricon