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Under The canopy


Dunham Massey has a strong connection to nature and to wildlife. Set under the canopy of an old yew tree, our pavilion provides a space for you to stop, observe and enjoy the rich gardens through gently directed outward views. The open, lightweight arches draw one’s eye upwards, towards the intricate canopy that shelters and encloses the site. We take advantage of this natural enclosure, creating a focal point that lets visitors linger under the canopy a little longer. We believe that our pavilion should have a low impact on both the natural site, and the environment. We took inspiration from the rings of a tree, which get smaller nearer to the core. Each pair of arches is a smaller iteration of the one before, allowing us to take all three arch sets from the same sheets of plywood. The resulting structure sits gently on the site without drawing attention away from the surrounding gardens, but also minimises impact on the greater natural ecosystem.

Designed by: Benjamin Smith, Alistair Hume, Aishah Aziz, Martin Lee, Nick Chizhikov and Matt Stockton

Under The canopy



Delicately Framed Views

open design

Closed and Dark

Different age groups

A large part of Dunham Massey’s visitor experience is the wildlife that inhabits the gardens; the pavilion, which is designed not to harm or discourage animals and could act as a platform to observe seasonal animal life from afar. We designed the pavilion to accommodate the different age groups attracted to Dunham Massey; the three arches and chairs decrease in size, creating a connected space that fits every member of the family. Visitors are able to walk through the three sets of arches and sit facing inwards or outwards. The open frames create a sense of connectivity and allows groups of visitors to use the space together. The open pavilion is almost completely open to draw visitors’ gazes to the surrounding canopy of trees. This treats the canopy as an extension of space, as opposed to surrounding space. We would like ‘Under the Canopy’ to be a natural gathering space for this part of the garden.

Design Development


Open and Light

Under The canopy


Weather Resistant

Responsibly Sourced

Low Odour Emitter

Lighter than standard alternatives

Wear and Tear Resistant

Structural Wood


Don’t Rust


The materials have been chosen to have a low impact both on the garden and the greater environment. We have used renewable and reusable and natural materials for our structure to reflect both the views of the national trust and the responsibilities of a modern architect.

construction sequence

Under The canopy


Slats are packed densely angled upwards near the base, making it difficult for younger visitors to find a grip or a foothold, and preventing potential climbing related injuries. We have also designed the chairs so that they can be locked into place. This prevents the chairs from being unwantedly moved but are still rearrangeable if desired.

We developed three different locking mechanisms for the chairs. This allows Dunham Massey to have the option of having loose chairs that can be moved about on site or locking the chairs in place to prevent unwanted movements to other places of park.




Under The canopy

TESSELLATION The arches are held in place by a small base and fixed to the ground with small grounding coils. The slats, fan outwards across the arch frames and hold them rigid, keeping the entire pavilion stiff and stable. The simple design is built of only a few lightweight components, and is therefore easy to prefabricate, transport, assemble and manage. Disassembly is equally simple, requiring only a screwdriver and lug wrench.

The design can be cut out of sheets of plywood and easily assembled using a combination of bolts and screw fixtures. We have tessellated all of the pieces on sheets of plywood; arranged to minimise the use of wood, the design is both economical and ecological.



Under The canopy


The minimal structure allows views into the canopy or surrounding gardens from every angle. We want the pavillion to compliment the gardens, instead of drawing attention from the gardens.





Under The canopy






We believe that a pavilion needs to become a part of the landscape; it should compliment, not contradicts its surroundings; it should enhance, not ignore, the gardens. Our pavilion rests lightly on site and allows the full diversity of Dunham Massey’s visitors to stop, observe and enjoy the rich space ‘Under the Canopy’

Under the Canopy - Presentation Sheets  

Competition Presentation Sheets

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