Inspired by the tent structures typically used at World War I training camps that occupied this site, the striking profile of the visitor hub sits strategically at the top of the hill. The building design attracts and welcomes visitors while promoting the important work of the Woodland Trust.
A timber path anchors the building, creating a series of public routes that filter into the landscape. A generous canopy signals the entrance and invites visitors into the dramatic main space, with vertical rooflights contrasting with the expansive view. The repetition of the forms and volumes provides scope for other modules of the building to be added at a later stage.
Sustainable strategies include maximising use of local, recyclable and responsibly sourced materials and local sourcing of labour. The building uses a durable and low maintenance concrete base with flint aggregate; an untreated timber rainscreen cladding that will grey and weather gracefully over time with minimal maintenance; and laminated security double glazing. Internally, the walls are lined with warm-toned varnished timber.
The concrete slab provides thermal mass while the south-orientated large openings and rooflights allow for solar gain and natural light. The use of a modular, prefabricated and insulated structural timber cassette system for the roof and walls reduces construction cost, duration and impact.
Larissa Johnston, Francesca Bergamini and Base Models
Langley Vale Wood Natural Park, Surrey UK