Little Forest model resized

Little Forest


University of Auckland

12. Student design award


The client for this project is the Summerhill Charitable Trust (Summerhill Farm). They wish to replace the existing ger that is nearing the end of its useful life with a new timber shelter for small gatherings and picnics, ideally one or two groups at a time. With the assistance of Summerhill Timber, the primary material chosen for this project is timber. 

The concept of “Little Forest” is to reflect the surrounding environment and integrate the natural elements into the design. This includes creating a tree-like shelter that not only mimics the surroundings but also offers shelter from sun, rain, and wind, similar to a forest, by arranging the structural columns in a fixed pattern to ensure the stability of the structure while integrating the smaller non-load bearing columns to enhance the aesthetic appeal and serve as windbreakers for the structure, thus creating a softer visual effect for the column arrangement.

To make the structure easily accessible, all columns are designed to line up from one angle (if standing.

The roof structure is designed to be unique for this structure. It displays secure bracing elements for structure while creating captivating shadow patterns and evoking an ambience reminiscent of the surrounding trees.

The connection between the roof components is achieved through two primary types of custom-made metal plate connections.

To ensure the structure is effective and buildable, the systems for columns and roof structure is created. There are a total of column sizes, A (125x125 mm), which is load-bearing, B (125 x62.5 mm), and C (62.5 x62.5 mm), non-load bearing. Columns types A are placed underneath the star-shaped roofing connections while the non-load bearings (types B and C) are scattered around the structure without specific construction order and focus on the natural sensation.

By employing this system, we not only adhere to the building standards to ensure proper structural support but also create an atmosphere reminiscent of a forest, enhancing the overall ambience of the space.