Xylotek devloped and fabricated a set of five laminated bamboo strucutres for Grant Associates' award-winning Guangzhou Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
Xylotek worked with landscape architects Grant Associates to design a set of five filigree towers as part of their Best-In-Show award-winning "Guangzhou Garden" at the Chelsea Flower Show, London, in 2021.
Intended for use by wildlife and humans and ranging in height from 1.8 to 8.4 metres, the towers are made of laminated mōsō bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis). This fast-growing, sustainably sourced bamboo is more straightforward to recycle than typical construction materials.
Each tower consists of vertically aligned curving upright elements, wrapped with a bracing lattice of curved spiralling strips hand-bent into place and fixed around the uprights. Xylotek worked from the early design stages to develop the geometric and structural principles and determine the best material. The lattice patterns around each tower vary, with features recurring at different scales.
On the largest and smallest towers, the wraps spiral in continuous regular patterns, whilst the intermediate ones are covered with shorter ribbon-like strips conveying a sense of randomness. However, underlying repetitive patterns can be discerned. The larger structures feature a bench and observation platform, and entranceways leading towards them are made of bamboo strips re-laminated to form Gothic arches. This form recurs in the clamshell-like tower, which carries a swing.
Xylotek aimed to create lightweight lattice structures whose geometries would work in sympathy with their structural actions, using the principles of the gridshell to provide stiff, curved forms.
To this end, we carried out a series of physical tests and structural analyses to determine variable bending curvatures and the twists rates that laminated bamboo strips could achieve at different cross-sections. Feedback between workshop-floor experiments, full-scale prototypes and digital simulation enabled them to find optimum geometries.
The structures were assembled in Xylotek’s Bristol workshop - the largest structure requiring a bespoke axially rotating assembly framework to be developed to allow the wrapping elements to be wound onto a temporary armature until its stiffness was achieved.
The garden was designed on behalf of the China-based culture project consultancy Creativersal. Its main sponsor was the Administration of Forestry and Gardening of Guangzhou Municipality.