Gridshell R&D - London Zoo

glue laminated bamboo gridshell

Bamboo gridshell research // Pre-tender appointment to carry out research, development and prototyping of a glue-laminated bamboo gridshell for London zoo new monkey house, as specialist consultants to Foster & Partners and Expedition Engineers and in collaboration with Bath university.

Project Year


Xylotek Role

Pre-tender Consultancy, Prototyping, R&D

Project Team

Architect: Foster & Partners // Engineer: Expedition

Photo Credits

Foster + Partners // Zoological Society of London


Xylotek was proud to be involved in a groundbreaking research and development project to create a sustainable and environmentally friendly bamboo structure. The project was an ambitious attempt to construct a bamboo gridshell, which would have been a stunning addition to any urban landscape. The goal is to enable the London Zoo monkey house redevelopment proposed in its original form by Fosters + Partners—the R&D project aimed to create a lightweight, durable structure that could be constructed using sustainable materials.

Bamboo was chosen due to its incredible strength and ability to grow quickly. In collaboration with an architecture firm, Xylotek designed and tested the gridshell structure to ensure it met all the requirements.

The team was able to accurately predict the structural behaviour of the bamboo gridshell using advanced computer modelling and simulation tools, enabling them to optimise the design and ensure the structure could withstand the loads it would be subjected to. The final design was aesthetically pleasing, robust, and structurally efficient.

Sadly, despite the success of the R&D project, it did not make it to the construction stage due to various factors outside of Xylotek's control. However, the findings from this project have contributed significantly to the development of sustainable construction methods and materials.

The project was published in a research paper titled Construction and Building Materials. The paper discusses the use of bamboo in gridshell structures, providing valuable insights into the behaviour and structural properties of the material. It is hoped that this research will inspire further exploration into the use of sustainable materials in construction and lead to more environmentally friendly building practices in the future.

Although the project did not come to fruition, Xylotek is proud to have been involved in such an innovative and forward-thinking project. The research and development of the bamboo gridshell have contributed to the ongoing conversation about sustainability in construction and the use of renewable resources. The team at Xylotek is committed to continuing to explore sustainable construction methods and materials and to push the boundaries of what is possible in the construction industry.

Overall, the bamboo gridshell project was a testament to the creativity and technical expertise of the team at Xylotek.

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