Following research into CLT construction and fabrication, the Armadillo has been developed using eucalyptus timber manufactured by Xilonor

The Armadillo, a timber arts pavilion that opened on 1 June at Trinity Buoy Wharf in London, hopes to extend the opportunities of experimental cross-laminated timber (CLT) architecture and promote a natural, spatial sound experience. 

Designed in response to the ‘reimagine’ theme of the 2024 London Festival of Architecture, the Armadillo takes the form of stepped timber arches ascending in size, constructed from 42 prefabricated CLT panels. Designed for disassembly and reuse, the structure facilitates repurposing or relocation, minimising waste and maximising its lifespan.

The project is the result of a collaboration between Unknown Works, Xilonor, ConstruktCLT and Houghton Music & Arts Festival, with the support of Studio Allen, Rothoblaas, ARUP, Charcoalblue, Klimstar and Rubio Monocoat. According to the design team, the pavilion will be the first external structure in the UK to be made from a CLT created using eucalyptus timber (developed and manufactured by Xilonor). The material is said to be a highly durable and water-repellent alternative to other types of cross-laminated timber, which utilise only spruce or pine.

The Armadillo has been optimised for natural acoustic amplification without producing sound feedback to performers. The angles of the timber panels project sound outwards, while slender gaps along the tesselating archways are lined with an opaque silicone membrane. The arches are inset with programmable lighting tracks, providing a multisensory arts experience.

Following its exhibition at the London Festival of Architecture throughout June, the Armadillo will be deconstructed and re-erected at Houghton Music & Arts Festival in Norfolk, located within the grounds of the Grade-I listed Houghton Hall. The Armadillo will be permanently nestled within the woodland setting as a multi-use venue, providing a platform for music, congregation and sonic experiences to entrance festival-goers.

Ben Hayes, director at Unknown Works, said: ”The Armadillo is the creative culmination of long-term partnerships with fantastic collaborators who continue to innovate in their respective fields. We are proud to work with Houghton Music & Arts Festival to give the Armadillo a long life; relocating the timber structure to a permanent woodland home is a fitting representation of cultural architecture that goes against the grain of the highly wasteful status quo of typical exhibition design.”