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Korkeasaari Zoo (Helsinki) and Wood Focus Finland organised an architectural competition for the students of architecture at Helsinki University of Technology, with the assignment of designing a ten-meter-high view tower out of timber for the Zoo.

Arch2O Kupla - Helsinki Zoo Lookout tower -05

Design by Avanto Architects Ltd – Photography by Jussi Tiainen

The pavilion is located on a cliff-top site eighteen meters above sea level, with spectacular views of the sea and the city of Helsinki, the ten-meter tower is a delicately transparent landmark for Korkeasaari Island. The free form is inspired by its natural setting: it follows the existing low stone wall and skirts around a small birch grove. The load bearing grid shell structure consists of 72 glue lam battens, with timber sections of 60mmx60mm bent and twisted on site from seven preformed types. Over 600 bolted joints hold the shell structure together. The tower was a HUT Wood Studio project in 2000-2002 and Hara’s graduation project.

Arch2O Kupla - Helsinki Zoo Lookout tower -06

Design by Avanto Architects Ltd – Photography by Jussi Tiainen

The free form of my winning entry was motivated by the natural setting; it follows the surrounding stone wall and skirts around a group of birches. In January-May 2001 students at the Wood Studio workshop developed the draft design further by assembling scale models and exploring structural details. As the management of the irregular form proved difficult, I moulded a plastoline model. Digital images of the model then functioned as a basis for the AutoCAD drawings. Using the level drawings we constructed a 3D-computer model onto which we ”taped” the curved battens to form the gridshell. The most important lessons came from the laborious building of a two-meter-high one to five model.

 

Design by Avanto Architects Ltd – Photography by Jussi Tiainen

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