The Cocoon

The Cocoon is an inhabitable suspended ‘cocoon’ that took its form from a precise weaving through three trees at the fringe of a forest clearing. An ad-hoc monocoque of cedar strips sawn from Hooke Park trees, the structure emerged through a process of ‘bandaging’ until it was stiff enough to hang it from the trees.

The project was built in 2011 by three Design & Make students as part of their Core Studio project.

Students: Hugo G. Urrutia, Abdullah Omar, Ashgar Khan, Karjvit Rirermvanich
Program director: Martin Self
Studio master: Piers Taylor
Tutors: Charley Brentnall, Brendon Carlin

Four sheets of plywood where cut with a CNC and used as a skeleton guide for the main structure. The skin of the Cocoon and main structure was composed of one western red cedar tree that was milled to create thin strips, creating a monocoque structure. An important characteristic and advantage of the green and untreated cedar is the high flexibility achieved after milling into thin strips, permitting the cladding strips to bend and take new form.

The Cocoon’s design derived from the experience of walking through the forest of Hooke Park. Its design explores the relationship between natural light, material and occupational space. Its form represents a journey through Hooke Park, inviting and challenging the visitor to anticipate, explore and discover the natural beauty of the area from a completely different perspective. The main drivers of the project are: the study of natural light within a sheltered space, the views, the integration and connection to the surrounding envirionment.

One of the challenges of the project, was to avoid damaging or anchoring directly into the three supporting trees. This challenge made us rethink the way in which we could construct and support the shelter. We made a desicion to create a relatively light weight structure that allowed us to prefabricate it in a controlled and safer environment near the tools and power, avoiding the use of scaffolding. Another important desicion was to use a flexible and natural material from the area that could be easily assembled. Through a process similar to basket weaving; using thin cedar wood strips, the cocoon‘s monocoque structure was assembled piece by piece until the form was stiff enough to hang it from the trees.

The interior spaces of The Cocoon enables the visitor to have a unique visual and tactile experience through its undulated canyon-like forms created with the cedar cladding and the articulation of the light. The view from the main opening is oriented to allow the visitors to enjoy the winter sunsets. The height and overhang of the cocoon places the visitor near the canopy of the trees, while providing a unique shelter and hide-out within the surrounding environment.

Dezeen article here.