A competition to design a new visitor hub for The Woodland Trust in Langley Vale, a 640 acre woods in Epsom, Surrey, allowed us to explore how simple building techniques can allow the community to shape and construct a new building.
We proposed engaging local groups to make the building with their own hands as a powerful way to create ownership and awareness of the project.
Our design – A Woodsman’s Hut – showcases a traditional timber construction in a contemporary form. Easy to build and easy to maintain, it works with the outdoors. Mud will be traipsed through the internal spaces, doors will be left open. Therefore the detailing is robust and finishes are hardwearing.
The environmental strategy is deliberately straightforward. Only the spaces that are occupied for any length of time are insulated and heated. When you are cold you put a log on the fire, when you are hot you open the window. The budget is invested in high efficiency and natural insulation not complex environmental systems.
The proposed construction techniques can be carried out by supervised volunteers, with very limited heavy-machinery required. They can equally be carried out by construction professionals, giving flexibility in the level of public engagement depending on volunteer response.
Turning an ash spindle for a detail in the proposed building. Each spindle uses a combination of 6 shapes to create 720 unique spindles representing individual volunteers.