Smith and Wallwork are working with Cambridge charity Squeaky Gate and Cambridge University on an innovative structure for the 2014 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The proposal (which has already been accepted by the RHS) comprises a tensegrity sphere built from steel and bamboo. The ingenious bit is using pre-stressed bamboo for the tensegrity struts. To prove the concept Smith and Wallwork designed, built and tested three struts managing to achieve 2t of pre-stress in 50mm diameter bamboo struts using a standard car jack.

Building prototypes is hugely informative, something that no amount of office based thinking or the latest software can compete against. At Smith and Wallwork we believe practical experimentation is essential, many engineers fail to see the opportunity here preferring to remain desk bound in their thinking and ideas.

Many thanks to Bedford College for supplying material for the steel capping plates and Les Smith for his fabrication skills in building the prototypes.