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Timber Design Awards

The Pavilions

Brief: At The Pavilions we set out to design an experience, rather a building.

We needed that experience to have an impact that was precinct-wide. We hoped that, if we could achieve this, we would do to Britomart’s days what we had already done to its nights.


This is a commercial development with a life span of just five years. There’s no money here. Timber offered us excitement within constraint: softness, warmth and depth in a city dominated by concrete, metal, stone and glass.

Tiny retail tenancies shaped into bite-sized ‘blocks’ of building offered swift, cheap fabrication. Timber did the rest: we tested all manner of prefabrication technologies but timber beat everything with respect to efficiency, flexibility, portability and the charm of organic material in the heart of a synthetic city. Timber gave us a real project: we built The Pavilions in eleven weeks, and they cost less than a house.

These buildings are as simple as it gets: pinus radiata pre-framing, plywood cladding, and a protective rain-screen cloak of cedar and stained pine battens. What’s exciting is that they suggest that such humble material might yet have a future in the commercial development of our cities.

The Pavilions privilege flowers over facade. They try to choreograph an experience built on botanical delicacy and human delight, rather than on impressive structure or opulent decoration. We thrive on the hardness of the city, but we have enjoyed the strange woody softness of this garden and its incrementally overgrown little pavilions.

Photos by Jeremy Toth and Dajiang Tai