The Downland Gridshell is part of The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, which covers a total of 50 acres exhibiting nearly 50 historic buildings from different periods and styles, along with gardens, farm animals, walking paths, and a lake. Completed in 2002, its design resembles a peanut with three nuts. It is mainly used as a timber framing workshop, but it has also for events including music concerts, conferences and workshops. It was constructed from green oak laths sourced from nearby Normandy, bolted together to form a square lattice about 165 by 115 feet.
The lattice was assembled and then bent by gravity, making the building process very energy-efficient, while creating the fantastic undulating shape we see today. According to a DTI research study by Buro Happold, the green oak gridshell‘s embodied eco-rating is only about 3 percent of an equivalent steel or concrete structure, benefiting the building with very high sustainable standards.
The Gridshell has won numerous awards including a British Construction Industry Award, a Civic Trust Award and a Gold Wood Award, and it was once used as a temporary entrance canopy on the Centre Pompidou.
Photo © Edward Cullinan Architects / Keegan Duigenan / Richard Learoyd