enter awards




Category Winner


Cherrywood Canopy



Ben Thomas (Architect)



Built Structures

Structures & Spaces

Design Challenge and Design Ideas

The Cherrywood Canopy and Biophilic Sunken Garden provides an innovative and sustainable approach to the enhancement of the Cherrywood Public Realm. It is centrally located on the main public pedestrian link between Cherrywood Town Centre and the greenway, within the Cherrywood Business Park. The sunken garden provides a place for refuge for colleagues to meet, and for people to interact and share ideas, while enjoying the benefits of being within a natural biophilic environment. It also provides a vertical link and meeting hub between the underground car park and access to the office buildings above.
The use of timber, as the main exposed canopy structure, demonstrates how this natural material can be used to create contemporary, sustainable environments, which promote well-being and interaction.

How the brief was fulfilled

The Cherrywood Canopy and Biophilic Sunken Garden provides an innovative sustainable approach to the public realm. With the focus directed towards sustainability and well-being, it was important to utilise contemporary design and innovative construction strategies.
Double curved timber glulam beams were designed using advanced computer modelling and fabricated using large scale CNC processing. Cold bent glass, fixed to the double curved timber beams, protects the beams from direct rain, while providing shelter for the occupants below. Rainwater flows directly off the canopy edge into the upper landscape planters, which are interconnected with the lower planters within the garden, allowing the water to cascade – forming a natural irrigation system under the canopy. The form of the Canopy was optimised using environmental software to measure the wind speed over the surface of the glass and under the canopy. A reduction of wind speed under the canopy provides a more comfortable environment for people to experience the sunken garden.
The irrigation strategy was also carefully considered. Water flows off the sides of the canopy, directed and controlled by the protruding facade elements, and falls onto the first planter. After irrigating the plants, it travels to the lower interconnected planter and provides irrigation. This cascading affect continues until the water reaches the lowest planter and then it is stored in an attenuation tank for future use.
A connection with nature encourages well-being.
The Timber Canopy and Biophilic Sunken Garden create a welcoming, sheltered biophilic environment for people, native plants and wildlife to flourish, becoming a renewed focal point and destination within the business park. The environment created beneath the canopy promotes social interaction and well-being. The sustainable timber canopy acts as an example of what can be achieved when design and fabrication teams work collaboratively throughout the entire project. Sustainable architecture extends beyond the spaces it creates. It has the power to influence future projects to consider a different approach, both in terms of materiality and innovation. If we are to succeed in creating truly sustainable architecture it should encompass new technologies, fabrication strategies and material science.

External Collaborators
Cherrywood Timber Canopy and Sunken Garden is an example of what can be achieved through multi-disciplinary
collaboration, advanced computer-aided design and innovative fabrication strategies.
MOLA Architecture stipulated that materials with low embodied energy, such as timber and glulam, should be explored for the main structure of the canopy. The biophilic sunken garden, together with a natural material such as timber, complement each other and resonate together to further enhance the spaces within.
The project required a considered approach towards the primary structure materials. Glulam timber was used to provide a hyper-sustainable and free-form structure which was able to be fabricated within factory controlled conditions and then transported to site. The canopy construction time on site was considerably reduced due to the use of pre-fabricated timber components.
MOLA Architecture collaborated with Bakkala Engineers and Billings Design Associates, exploring the boundaries of what was structurally and aesthetically possible using sustainably sourced glue-laminated timber. This initial collaboration was critical to the success of the canopy and allowed an early confidence in the design which stood up to the challenges presented throughout the evolution of the project.

Connection detailing, beam and glass engineering were further analysed by Octatube specialists to determine the optimum arrangement for fabrication, transportation and construction.
Sustainability and innovation is at the core of the project. It provoked the design team to consider, and refine their approach to every element and fabrication strategy of the design and delivery of the project.
Innovation has been apparent at multiple stages throughout the project, including; material selection, form optimisation, modular construction, transportation of materials, connection detailing, health and safety during construction and maintenance strategies. The double curved Canopy was computer modelled using Rhinoceros 3D and AutoDesk Inventor software – with direct exports to CNC for fabrication. Cold bent laminated glass is clamped onto the timber frame using a Raico facade system.


The concept delivery of this design is faultless. The execution of the canopy and organic nature of the design fits seamlessly into the surrounding environment, through the use of shape, materiality and light.



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