Unknown Works creates first exposed eucalyptus CLT structure: The Armadillo
Henry Woide

Unknown Works creates first exposed eucalyptus CLT structure: The Armadillo

24 Jun 2024  •  News  •  By Gerard McGuickin

London-based architecture and design studio Unknown Works has created the Armadillo, an experimental cross-laminated timber (CLT) pavilion for the 2024 London Festival of Architecture and Houghton Music & Arts Festival. The pavilion is the world’s first exposed eucalyptus CLT structure.

photo_credit Henry Woide
Henry Woide
photo_credit Unknown Works
Unknown Works

The Armadillo is a project that explores the connection between innovative timber construction and acoustic design, acting as both a stage and an amplifier for a natural, spatial sound experience. Unknown Works collaborated with a number of agencies to create the unique structure: CLT manufacturer Xilonor, CLT constructor ConstruktCLT, and Houghton Music & Arts Festival (the pavilion’s commissioner), with support from Studio Allen and ARUP (structural engineering), Rothoblaas (fixings), Charcoalblue (acoustic optimization), Klimstar (cladding contractor), and Rubio Monocoat (wood protection coating).

photo_credit Henry Woide
Henry Woide
photo_credit Henry Woide
Henry Woide

The Armadillo consists of six timber arches, each one increasing concentrically in size, and is constructed from 42 prefabricated CLT panels (with seven panels per arch). With a focus on circularity and sustainability, the pavilion has been designed for disassembly and reuse — “the structure facilitates easy repurposing or relocation, minimizing waste and maximizing its lifespan,” says Unknown Works. 

The pavilion is the first outdoor structure in the UK to be crafted from a new CLT made with eucalyptus timber — the CLT was developed and manufactured by Galician company Xilonor. “The material is a highly durable and water repellent alternative to other types of cross-laminated timber which utilize only spruce or pine,” says Unknown Works.

photo_credit Unknown Works
Unknown Works
photo_credit Unknown Works
Unknown Works
photo_credit Unknown Works
Unknown Works
photo_credit Unknown Works
Unknown Works

Designed as a stage setting, the Armadillo’s form is optimized for natural acoustic amplification and any sound feedback to performers is therefore arrested. The CLT panels are angled to project sound outwards — slight gaps along the tessellated archways are lined with an opaque silicone membrane. The arches have programmable lighting track insets that provide a dynamic and multi-sensory experience.

photo_credit Unknown Works
Unknown Works
photo_credit Unknown Works
Unknown Works
photo_credit Henry Woide
Henry Woide

The Armadillo was installed in six days at Trinity Buoy Wharf in London for the 2024 London Festival of Architecture — it will remain on show until 18th July. The pavilion will then be disassembled and re-erected at Houghton Music & Arts Festival in Norfolk, England (billed as an “electronic music paradise”). The festival takes place on the grounds of the Grade I listed Houghton Hall — here, the Armadillo will nestle within its new woodland home, becoming a permanent fixture and providing festival-goers with a platform for music, gatherings, and “sonic experiences”.

photo_credit Unknown Works
Unknown Works
photo_credit Henry Woide
Henry Woide

Modeling at Houghton Hall:

photo_credit Unknown Works
Unknown Works