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Craft Not Carbon, London

Webb Yates Engineers with Studio Saar
(Udaipur and Frome) and Xylotek
Lead engineer: Steve Webb
Lead architects: Ar. Ananya Singhal and Ar. Jonny Buckland

As part of the 2023 London Festival of Architecture, a new timber and bamboo pavilion designed by UK-based multi-disciplinary engineering practice Webb Yates Engineers, with Anglo-Indian architecture practice Studio Saar and timber specialists Xylotek was erected in London’s Crystal Palace Park. Titled ‘Craft Not Carbon’, the pavilion is a timber-framed structure with a woven bamboo canopy that provides a temporary community hub for the festival’s duration.

Responding to today’s social and environmental challenges, the Craft Not Carbon pavilion is designed to showcase the importance of craftsmanship and low-carbon materials. It also asks whether local crafts and materials are viable solutions for the future of construction in the United Kingdom.

The installation brings ideas from Third Space, a learning and cultural center in Udaipur, India, designed by Studio Saar and Webb Yates Engineers. To provide solar shading, the new community hub features a woven bamboo roof canopy instead of widely-used long-life aluminum shades that employ local weavers in its ongoing maintenance. This is a low-cost low-carbon solution that generates local employment and preserves traditional craft.

The Pavilion plans to launch this socially responsible and circulation solution in the United Kingdom, referencing the long tradition of weaving in the same. It also echoes The Crystal Palace, a temporary iron structure designed by Ar. Joseph Paxton that housed the Great Exhibition in 1851. The installation also marks the year of the London Borough of Bromley as a key LFA destination and the community charity Crystal Palace Park Trust taking over the management of the park and creating common spaces for social gatherings.

Ar. Ananya Singhal, Managing Director, Studio Saar, said: “Our Third Space project was inspired by the local architectural heritage of Rajasthan. Similarly, with the Craft Not Carbon Pavilion, we have drawn inspiration from the area’s heritage – looking at Paxton’s structure that formerly sat in the park. Third Space is all about promoting learning, collaboration, and inclusivity and we’re delighted to have collaborated with Webb Yates Engineers and Xylotek to bring a small part of that project to South London, to demonstrate how we can use traditional building materials for the benefit of people and the planet.”