Adjaye wanted to push the boundaries of the tulipwood’s structural durability, weight, ability to withstand the elements and a lot of footfall.

Fourteen hundred strips of engineered American tulipwood work as cladding, surface and frame, becoming the structures walls, ceiling and atmosphere.

Nice hundred and twenty vertical strips hang precariously from the ceiling, suggesting an inverted urban topography or a massive wooden chandelier. The use of pre-fabricated structural modules, which were constructed off-site over a six week period, minimized the time required for installation to eight days.

The original Sclera was an elliptical 12 x 8 metre pavilion. In an exciting development, a segment of the pavilion has been recreated as part of the David Adjaye: Making Memory exhibition at the Design Museum, launching 2 February 2019. The fragment at the Design Museum, which has been replicated following the original drawings by craftsman makers Benchmark, measures 4.5 x 3.4 metres and will invite visitors to get a glimpse at what the original experience inside the pavilion was like, and to explore the look and tactility of the tulipwood.

Sean Sutcliffe, Director of Benchmark furniture commented, “Making the Sclera structure for the David Adjaye Show at the Design Museum gave us an opportunity to use American tulipwood at scale and in a really beautiful installation. We always welcome the opportunity to make things with tulipwood, not just because it works really well; both machining and handwork are a joy, but significantly because tulipwood is a massively undervalued resource. It is plentiful in the North American forests, fast growing and highly sustainable as a material. It has good strength to weight properties and good stability. Quite why it has been historically so undervalued is a mystery to me, but at this point in time it is a good value hardwood.”

Explore the finished structure >