This collaborative design and build project for Grizedale Arts was developed using a palette of materials drawn directly from the landscape around the Crake Valley. The open-sided outdoor classroom structure was built at Nibthwaite Grange Farm, and sits alongside a productive vegetable garden, providing a new place for learning that facilitates close contact with the land, and the culture and cycles of rural life.
The timber frame was built using green larch: a locally sourced, fast growing softwood milled at Graythwaite Estate sawmill, pegged together with oak dowels hewn from locally forested oak. Eliminating the need for concrete footings, the structure sits on a dry-stone wall plinth, built under the guidance of John Atkinson using a technique which is ubiquitous across the Lake District for everything from farm walls to fine houses. Uplift on the eaves of the structure is resisted by a series of boulders from the quarry at Broughton Moor chained to the rafters, and embedded into the earth banks either side of the structure. A gate of irregular timber was provided by renowned oak swill craftsman Owen Jones MBE.
In its simplest form the act of building could be thought of as a gathering up of different elements of the landscape, or the orchestration of the movement and configuration of material from one place to another. This project explores how an understanding of material context and historic technologies can play a role in contemporary building as move towards a post-carbon future.