Situated within an ancient forest in England's East Sussex, The Woodland Enterprise Centre regularly hosts courses, lectures and events related to timber and rural industries. The building has primarily been used as office space for several wood-related businesses -- including High Weald AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), WoodNet, The Timberbuild Network, and charity Woodland Enterprises Ltd -- but a recent expansion completed by The Architecture Ensemble has given way to eight fantastic workspaces, now available for rent. Each space has been made from locally-sourced wood and their interiors can be heated with a wood-fired boiler that burns waste.
Arranged around a common courtyard, the grouping of eight new wooden buildings are aimed at promoting good practice in woodland management. The four pairs of two-and-a-half story units have been designed as flexible workspaces that can be opened up into double-size units, subdivided vertically by floor, or kept as a single volume adapting to tenant needs. The 20×50 foot structures are mainly constructed out of local Douglas fir with some larch, and use a combination of frames, prefabricated timber panels and timber cladding.
Within the same site, The Architecture Ensemble created Pyrahut, a smaller architectural piece standing on pads that have minimal impact on the ground, and possible add-ons such as a composting toilet, photovoltaic panels or a wind turbine.
Currently under development is the Adventure Rope Ltd. building. The company creates challenging and fun day-out games and the building reflects its practices through the use of Finnish round poles, glue-laminated beams and stainless steel ropes commonly used on their courses.
All these magnificent buildings within The Woodland Enterprise Centre are a great example of practice-led research. They were built at different stages, allowing the architects to have time to reflect and refine their original design as they go along. Whether they use the surrounding trees for building, or for producing heat by burning waste, these architectural gems make perfect use of local resources.
Photo © The Architecture Ensemble