A Stellar Pavilion for a Unique Summer Camp

We built this remarkable timber frame pavilion over the winter of 2014. The design was a perfect fit for the Flying Cloud Camp at Farm and Wilderness, an intimate, unplugged camp teaching wilderness skills and adventuring. The pavilion provides shelter from the elements, while still allowing fires to be built inside. The central opening formed via reciprocating rafters is protected by a custom, twelve sided steel cupola. Reciprocal framing in the roof creates an inspiring, open space that instills a sense of wonder, and the open walls offer meaningful connection with the forest immediately outside.

Reciprocal Framing Shapes the Space

This timber frame pavilion spans a 32-foot diameter open space. The elegant simplicity of this structure derives from one of our favorite structural techniques: the reciprocating frame. In a reciprocating frame, each rafter rests on its neighbor, which in turn carries the next one in sequence. The result is a self supporting roof that needs no interior supports, and a beautiful latticed roof pattern that draws the gaze upward, towards the center of the space. Reciprocal frames are a great way to build wide-open, sheltered spaces with a small number of heavy beams.

This uncommon technique has done a tremendous job creating the sense of both openness and shelter we intended. It allows a person on the inside of the pavilion to feel a connection with the forest immediately outside. Reciprocal frames would be a great choice for spaces that will be used by a large number of people for gatherings of significance like meetings for worship, outdoor concerts and weddings.

Raising Together

Raising a reciprocal frame presents unique challenges. How is the roof held up before all rafters are in place? What holds up the other eleven rafters? The raising of this particular building presented even more unique questions like how to raise the frame without power, on a site that was a three mile hike down a logging road. Some of those questions were answered by the sheer amount of labor available to us. Three TimberHomes members were on site, and between ten to fifteen volunteers from Farm and Wilderness, including the Flying Cloud director and several returning campers. Their presence at the snowy site with us throughout the raising providing the muscle to move and raise this pavilion.