We’ve dreamed and schemed for over two years and the frame you built and erected surpassed those dreams. It has been a pleasure to deal with you and we have been unhesitatingly recommending you to the people who have stopped to ask about this impressive oak frame.

Ron & Maggie Wilson, Suffolk

Gridshells and ribshells

Carpenter Oak & Woodland has designed and built elegant, strong, green-oak gridshells for a range of purposes.

Lightweight but strong gridshell structures

Small-section ‘laths’ of green timber gridshells make a strong, but lightweight structure with a range of applications.

oak frame gridshell-earth centrePerfectly engineered gridshells

Gridshells are extremely strong structures which need no internal support. Built from timber laths, woven into a diagonal lattice mat, they have no structural strength when laid flat. Yet, when formed into curves, the grid locks into a secure, rigid shell. For some structures, subtle steelwork can increase its rigidity without compromising its aesthetics.

Oak frame gridshell-chiddingstoneThe world’s first gridshell to support a frameless glass roof

The orangery gridshell at Chiddingstone Castle was an especially challenging piece of timber engineering which resulted in it becoming a Wood Awards winner. The gridshell supports frameless glazing, so the usual method of construction (which allows the gridshell to flex and ‘find its own form’) was inappropriate. This gridshell needed to be predictable and rigid, using specially designed node clamps to allow for small amounts of settling in movement.

oak frame ribshell-farnhamThe ribshell variation

A ribshell is a variation on the gridshell, but uses substantial timber ribs, which are then crossed with smaller section laths. Which approach is chosen depends on the requirement in terms of aesthetics, strength, construction and other factors.

Beyond the gridshell

Sometimes a gridshell is the architect’s choice, but budget or other considerations rule it out. For instance, rectangular buildings don’t really lend themselves to true gridshell construction.

<oak frame gridshell-broomwood hall

With over twenty-five years’ expertise, we’re adept at working with architects, engineers, project managers, plumbers, elecWorking with architects, we’re usually able to achieve the ‘gridshell aesthetic’ in a different way. A good example of this is at Broomwood Hall School, where we devised a solution comprising of repeated longitudinal elements which interlocked with curved ribs – creating the same aesthetic as a gridshell.