The Bartlett
Fifteen Show 2021
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Programmed-In: Kiln Canopy

Project details

Tutors Peter Scully,  Marielena Papandreou and Vincent Huyghe

Programmed-In: Kiln Canopy is a canopy providing shelter for loading and unloading the kilns at Flimwell park. It is a collaborative project between the Flimwell Kiln team, Flimwell Park and local community members.

Socially, the canopy provides a site for a unique type of knowledge share between professional, educational, and local stakeholders through the firing of ceramics. Kiln Canopy explores the possibilities of designing and manufacturing complex double-curved structures from planar nodes and chords. Once assembled, these apparently simple planar components generate the requisite complexity of a double curvature surface.

The complexity of the overall system is addressed by the detailing of the chord-to-node joint and the design of the assembly sequence. By managing these interdependent factors at the design and prototyping stage, the proposed structure forms a kit-of-parts that enables self-builders to easily assemble the canopy. This approach can empower educational and participatory activities, thus leading to more sustainable and resilient communities. Such a culture has now been embedded in the very soil of Flimwell Park by a diverse team of collaborators.



Developing the Master Surface

The development of the master surface was led by structural performance, rainfall simulation, and curvature analysis.

Sub-Systems of the Roof Structure

Sub-Systems of the Roof Structure

Exploded axonometric showing the roof sub-systems.

Footing Components

The canopy footings are made of a set of welded components: Three steel plates aligned to the bottom chords, a base, and a folded steel bracket to attach to the foundation.

Rain Simulation

Rain Simulation

The roof is divided into three patches based on the centred seams to prevent rainwater draining onto the kiln.


Structural Analysis

Structural Analysis

The structure is assessed according to its weight, snow load, uplift, and lateral wind loads. The deflection of the self-supporting system is minimal, less than 1 cm.

Principle Stress Lines Depicting Force Flows

The diagrams show the lateral wind load scenario. The shell provides continuous force flows with equally distributed loads, graphically represented by principal stress lines.



Nodes Fabrication Process

The structural nodes are cut from a plywood sheet using a 3-axis large bed CNC (Computer Numerical Control) router.

Chords Robotic Manufacturing Process

Delivering the canopy’s complex double-curvature form requires the chords to be fabricated using a 6-axis robot. All chords can be machined using the same computer script.

Work Holding Solution

A work holding solution was created to ensure the chords are secured during robot fabrication. It consists of cylindrical dowels that position the stock material in place.

Toolpath Strategy

All chords have edges in different planes. The toolpath to fabricate them consists of three operations: pocket milling, contour milling, and orienting verticals planes.

Chord Fabrication with Tool Path Strategy

Chord Fabrication with Tool Path Strategy

Chord machining in the robotic cell.



Global Assembly Sequence

Vertical chords are connected to nodes off-site and then to horizontal ones on-site. Each patch is later joined by seams. Finally, the skin strips are bent onto the structure.


A precise labelling system was created for higher assembly efficiency of all structural components.

Three Quad Assembly: Iteration 1

Selected quads to be prototyped and iterated to test all aspects of the project. This iteration introduces a stair pattern in the chord for skin strips attachment.

Three Quad Assembly

Three Quad Assembly

Step-by-step process of the connections between the nodes and chords. A brief speculation of the skin connection that is actively bent onto the main structure is also shown.

Vertical Beam Assembly Video

Vertical Beam Assembly Video

Step-by-step process of the connections between the nodes and vertical chords.

View Model

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The Bartlett
Fifteen Show 2021
14 – 29 January 2022