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Author Topic: Circular Timber frame buildings  (Read 3228 times)

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Offline robbshowe

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Circular Timber frame buildings
« on: February 18, 2014, 07:27:12 PM »
Has anyone out there had experience building a circular timber frame building?  I have been asked to design and build a garden room which consists of 2 circular rooms which butt against each other but only have outline plans with no elevations as yet.  Just thought if someone else had come across this type of design they could perhaps share their experience.  I have previously asked about conical roof construction and have now got a good grasp of this topic but the complete frame may be a little more complex I feel!  Any advice welcome. 

Online beenthere

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Re: Circular Timber frame buildings
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2014, 08:28:34 PM »
Arkansawyer, former active member, had a thread on an octagon two story frame.
It might be of some interest.
http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php/topic,26121.msg373198.html#msg373198



Member PlicketyCat proposed some design of a circular pole building but don't think it was built. Found the reference to the "reciprocal" roof design.

http://greenbuildingelements.com/2008/10/01/the-reciprocal-roof-beauty-strength-and-simplicity-in-a-roof-frame/
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Offline Rooster

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Re: Circular Timber frame buildings
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2014, 11:26:59 PM »
Circular or multi-sided?
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Offline Chilterns

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Re: Circular Timber frame buildings
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2014, 03:29:52 AM »
Hi,

I was quite taken by this replica Saxon hut / dwelling posted on the OWG Forum by Isla :-

http://oxfordshirewoodlandgroup.co.uk/forum/?mingleforumaction=viewtopic&t=193

and thought that I might have a go at developing this simple concept into something a little more permanent using large round pole posts.

Chilterns

Offline jueston

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Re: Circular Timber frame buildings
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2014, 03:11:11 PM »
i knew a guy once who wanted to build a large circular building with a circular roof. after a lot of thought and some models, he gave up and made the building an octagon. he said making a circular building is like fighting the current, you can do it, but there are easier options. he pointed out that every part of the modern building works with square walls, and you have to really reinvent to wheel to build a circular building.

He also said that after it was finished, lots of people would say the building was a circle, because few people took the time to note it was an octagon....

Offline Thehardway

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Re: Circular Timber frame buildings
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2014, 09:40:15 AM »
Robbeshowe,

Next to Kingposts and energy efficiency, Round buildings are one of my favorite subjects.  I don't know that much about round buildings in Europe but here in the US they have some historical significance.

One of the first round buildings  (16 sided polygon) in the US was a threshing barn built by George Washington.  He spoke about how it was a more efficient design.  He was followed by Thomas Jefferson who praised the design of the octagon structure for its natural ventilation and efficiency.  He was a great admirer of ancient architecture and took many of his queues from Greek and Roman architecture and was deeply influenced by the French.  He built both Monticello and Poplar forest with octagonal central structures.

Leonardo had much to say about the octagon and central structures and drew a fair number of theoretical structures in this vein.

Perhaps the oldest known structure in existence, Stonehenge, exhibits the round design

If the famous painting of Bruegel is to be believed, the Tower of Babel was round.  We know that the Tower of Pisa is round.  There are also many round building elements form medieval times that are round and the ancient Stave Churches exhibit some round structural elements.  Many primitive cultures utilized the round design as well, African huts, Indian TeePees, adobe structures, etc.  The ancient Coliseum was round.

The circle encompasses more area with less surface than other geometric shapes, hence, a round wall footprint uses less material to encompass the same area as a rectangular or square building.  The Polygons and more specifically the octagon are perhaps some of the most efficient uses of building materials for an enclosure at least on paper.

One of the more modern attempts to popularize round or octagonal structures in the US was done by Orson Squire Fowler.  He was quite a character and had many views that were a bit ahead of his time.  He could perhaps be considered the grandfather of the ICF home.  He proposed octagonal exterior walls formed with wood and filled with a gravel mixture.  He said that octagonal homes made more efficient use of materials, would be cheaper to build, allowed for more sunlight, and had better airflow and ventilation characteristics.

I found his writings to be of great interest and he was a character who greatly influenced me in my approach to building.  Many of the homes he inspired still stand today in the US and are of significant architectural interest.   Many were built in the mid 1800's and some were timberframed.

I originally wanted to build an octagonal house for many of the reason Fowler proposed.  As I set about to do it, I realized that with conventioanl building materials, there would be a lot of waste, and should I need to sell it, octagonal homes have limited appeal and can be a challenge to furnish (at least in some peoples minds).  Resale might be difficult.  I found several manufacturers of round and polygonal structures and you could likely gain some insite from them.  Deltec Homes, builds polygonal structures using semi-conventional framing and has numerous online floorplans.  Topsider Homes is a similar octagonal design
and uses a post and beam style construction based on a central column or post.  It is not far from timberframe for structural framing members, just different joinery.   You should check them out online.

As you are in Europe, I would say that perhaps the best examples of round timberframed structures you could find which used heavy timbers and joinery would be the dutch windmills.  The dutch were perhaps unsurpassed in timberframing skills and these unique structures have been fairly well preserved and represent the ultimate in both form and function.  You should be able to find both layout and joinery needed in the documentation of these structures.

This should be and interesting project.
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Offline pineywoods

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Re: Circular Timber frame buildings
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2014, 11:09:37 AM »
Google "geodesic dome" By far the most building for the least amount of material. If I needed a large clear span building, I would seriously consider a dome. I once built a 3 ft diameter model using nothing but Popsicle sticks. The roof would easily support a 100 pound static load. 
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Offline robbshowe

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Re: Circular Timber frame buildings
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2014, 06:14:10 PM »
Hi everyone.  Haven't checked the forum for a day or so.  I am blown away by the very many helpful replies to my original query!  As usual, the response from those like minded soles never ceases to amaze me.  The building need to be traditional timber frame rather than pole in nature which eliminates a few of the options suggested.  The others listed will take me a bit of time to research and digest.  I intend to make my usual scale model of the design once I have this all worked out so hopefully, you can all see my attempt at this problem!
I'm surprised not to hear from J.C Whitecloud?  I always value your comments and hope you are well!

Offline Chilterns

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Re: Circular Timber frame buildings
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2014, 03:05:34 AM »
Hi Rob,

I just noted that you are based in the Kingdom of Fife and so you might want to check out or better still visit The Findhorn Foundation which is north of you near Forres in Murrayshire. They have constructed a number of circular buildings. You might also want to check out the use of reciprocal frames for circular building construction.

Chilterns

Offline timberwrestler

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Re: Circular Timber frame buildings
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2014, 02:59:04 PM »
I've designed a few circular and multi-faceted timber frames for clients, none of which have been built for a variety of reasons.  There's a LOT of round timber framing in the UK both traditional and contemporary.  A good bit of it is timber roofs over masonry, but that can be adapted to timber walls pretty easily. 

If you're faceting the perimeter, I prefer to keep the posts off the corners and use pairs of posts.  It simplifies the joinery and timbers, and I personally prefer the look.

You can do fully round but your plates need to take that shape, with either lots of scarfs, or curved glue-lams. 

I would try and avoid a domed roof, and lean towards conical.  At least with a conical roof the sections are straight.  Sheathing is tricky (tapered) in either case.  You can always imply a domed look with arched internal braces within a conical roof.  You said that the buildings intersect, and if the roofs intersect as well, then the intersection can get a little complex.  A good drafting program or old school developed drawing can show what that intersection looks like.

I would stay far away from geodesic domes.  One of the main proponents of them--Llyod Kahn--actually took his book on geo domes out of press because they just don't work.  In particular, the roof leaks. 

This a little trail shelter that I visited with its builder in Scotland:





I know a bunch of excellent timber framers around the Perth/Dundee area.  They all have experience with curved timber.  Let me know if you'd like their info, or I can help with the design.

Offline robbshowe

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Re: Circular Timber frame buildings
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2014, 03:26:15 AM »
Love the photographs of the shelter in the wood!  Bit Hobbit like, which is something else I'm working on.  I would be grateful for the contact details of any framers you know of in this area.  It would be helpful to speak to these guys for any advice they can offer. Thank you so much for taking the time to help out.  I will keep you posted should this project develop to the next stage.


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