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Pavilion in the Park

The gridshell Savill Building is a pure form in natural, local materials sited with great care within the sensitive context of the Grade I listed Savill Garden at Windsor Great Park.

Complex engineering and craft

Shortlisted for the Stirling Prize, the multi award-winning building combines complex engineering, and craft skills with an innovative approach to visitor experience. One of the few true gridshell roofs in existence in the world, its structure involved steam-bending European larch (Larix europea), sourced from the Crown Estate’s plantations in Windsor Forest to follow the curves of a complex 3D model. The building’s rainscreen cladding and timber flooring were constructed in English oak (Quercus robur) from the same source.

  • Concept

  • Ground floor

    Ground floor

  • Roof structure

    Roof structure

  • Model 1:200

  • Model 1:200

Shaped by structural, environmental and spatial considerations, the organic undulating form emerged through a process of testing and modelling in close collaboration with specialist carpenters (Green Oak Carpentry Company), subcontractors and structural engineers (Buro Happold). Our language of timber jointing—communicative of materiality and craft skills—evolved as a natural expression of the gridshell solution.

  • View showing the completion of the grid shell
  • Construction process
  • Construction process
  • Construction process

The Savill Building’s overhanging green roof welcomes visitors to the Park, sheltering a vast, column-free space of 120-metres long by 30-metres wide. Opening up to spectacular views across the landscape, the building’s three principal zones—entrance, restaurant and shop—are subdivided by a pair of free-standing ticketing and retail pods clad in contrasting light-coloured Corian. The building’s timber engineered structure, rainscreen cladding and floor finishes were all made from larch and oak timber grown within the Park.

  • Overhanging canopy

  • The entrance sequence provides framed views towards the garden

Detail of the timber gridshell

Conservation and context

We carefully positioned the building to establish an optimum visitor arrival sequence that prioritises great views over the landscape. The building is sited on a former beech plantation partially destroyed by the great storms of the late 1980s; by retaining all mature trees and incorporating them into car park landscaping, visual impact on a world-class landscape was minimised. As part of the project, the Park’s arboretum was comprehensively expanded with native species selected by the Crown Estate’s Keeper of the Gardens.

“The Savill Building has provided us with a magnificent new iconic building which forms the entrance to the Savill Garden and a gateway to the Royal landscape.”
Roger Bright, The Crown Estate

  • The Grade 1-listed garden

  • Knitting into the landscape

    The roof-line knits into the landscape

  • Section through the landscape

    Section through the landscape

Client The Crown Estate
Location Windsor Great Park
Size 2,000 sq m
Status Completed 2006
Awards RIBA Stirling Prize 2007 – shortlist, RIBA National and Regional Awards 2007, Civic Trust Award 2007, Wood Awards, Gold Award 2006, Chicago Athenaeum Award 2008, IStructE Structural Award 2007
Glenn Howells
Reinhold Schmaderer
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