Times Eureka Pavilion / Nex Architecture

© Courtesy of Nex Architecture

Architects: Nex Architecture / Alan Dempsey, Paul Loh, Michal Piasecki, Tomasz Starczewski, James Chung
Location: , United Kingdom
Client: The London Times, Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
Collaborators: Marcus Barnett Landscape Design, Buro Happold Engineering
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Courtesy of Nex Architecture

NEX was delighted to contribute to creating a benchmark in integrated design at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, working with Buro Happold and Chelsea Gold Medallist Marcus Barnett on the creation of a pavilion for The Times Eureka Garden, in association with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

© Courtesy of Nex Architecture

The Times commissioned Marcus Barnett Landscape Architects to design and build the garden, demonstrating a commitment to science and reflecting the focus of The Times monthly science magazine, Eureka. Barnett asked award winning NEX Architecture to design the Eureka Pavilion, and appointed Buro Happold to provide structural engineering. Plant species chosen for the Eureka Garden reflect their benefits to society including medicinal, commercial and industrial uses underlining the fact we could not survive without them. The pavilion design brief was to reflect the same theme.


NEX Principal Alan Dempsey says: “We extended the design concepts of the garden by looking closely at the cellular structure of plants and their processes of growth to inform the design’s development. The final structure was designed using computer algorithms that mimic natural growth and is intended to allow visitors to experience the patterns of biological structure at an unfamiliar scale. The primary structure is timber sourced from sustainable spruce forests with a panelled roof.”

© Courtesy of Nex Architecture

The design development of the pavilion focused on the ‘bio-mimicry’ of leaf capillaries being embedded in the walls. The structural geometry was finalised to use primary timber capillaries (300dp x 140wd) to form the basic shape and supporting structure of the pavilion, inset with secondary timber cassettes that hold the cladding. Following completion of the 3D modelling to meet architectural and structural needs, specialist timber fabricators undertook detailed analysis and digital manufacturing of the structure.

Pattern Study

The walls and roof are clad with recycled plastic ‘cells’ that frame views out to the garden. Rain water literally runs down the capillaries in the walls of the cube from the roof into the ground. The pavilion sits on a timber raft constructed from spruce beams. Sand ballast fills the voids between the raft timbers to give the pavilion increased weight to resist uplift from wind loads.

© Courtesy of Nex Architecture

Nothing will remain in the ground after the structure is dismantled and transported to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew where it will be erected along with the rest of the Times Eureka Garden, against the backdrop of Kew’s historical UNESCO World Heritage Site landscape. It is hoped the garden will be open to the public in early July for the summer months.


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Cite: "Times Eureka Pavilion / Nex Architecture" 12 Jun 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=142509>
  • Tosh

    Why would I want to go into something that looks like a huge beehive in a garden?

    • Thomas Lin

      Because sometimes you just have to experience the space firsthand. It make look like a huge beehive, but wasn’t the architect’s intention to highlight the cellular structure of plant cells? If you think about it, it’s a rather ingenious use of sustainable material and structural integrity to achieve a natural approach to the site and context. Reminds me of the Water Cube for the Beijing Olympics, both in context of its purpose and design.

  • http://uptodayarch.blogspot.com up_today_arch

    looks fantastic!… congratulations! I’m very interesting additional drawings about joints ets….

  • Sarah Edwards

    This is both a beautiful park intervention, as well as a superb example of what digital parametric modeling can achieve. The diagrammatic approach to this project clearly illustrates the evolution of this project from concept to completion. The cube encases its inhabitants into a circumstance which allows light to gleam through much like a tree canopy, and I can agree that the cellular “hives” very much mimic the structure of plant cells. If anything, t is evident that much effort was put into enmeshing this computer generated project with its natural surroundings, and the result is a metaphysical condition which is entirely experiential and individual to its occupant.

    • kaitlynn james

      computer generated and generous proof of the metaphysical majesty!