Thursday, 11 November 2010

Waitomo Caves Visitors Centre: “The Gridshell” – Architecture Workshop

WaitomoCavesGridshell Here’s a good-looking project, which just won an NZ Wood award for its designers, Wellington’s Architecture Workshop, and their engineers, Dunning Thornton Consultants.

They should take another bow, because there’s nothing else like this in the country.

Waitomo2 Taking its structural cue from the likes of Edward Cullinan’s Downlands Gridshell in Sussex (featured here  a couple of years back) the Waitomo Centre features translucent, “inflated ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) air pillows tethered over the gridshell structure like a tent fly.” The gridshell structure itself is made of laminated veneer lumber (LVL) ribs made to shape and then locked together in a toroidal grid  floating welcomingly over the new centre.

Waitomo04 Just another reason to detour this way when you’re heading in this direction.  I certainly will be.



  1. I would of thought it was bad form to put a cover over the pou?

    Does anyone know...?

  2. Tom Hunter said...


    I saw this three weeks ago while visiting my nephew's farm in Waitomo - and I just about drove off the road when I saw this structure. It is spectacular. I took the time to stop and take a photo on my return journey.

    I look at this, then at Eden Park - and become mournful.


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