Commissions - Forest Woodcraft, Kent Carpentry and Joinery

Bridge School Outdoor Structure

This year, 'Forest Woodcraft' was given a great opportunity to design and build a contemporary outdoor classroom - in effect, a sheltered area for children, falling inline with the Government's new strategy for outdoor teaching facilities.

After being approached by 'Rustic Woodland', and the Headmistress at Bridge School, talks revealed their expectations of the build.

The site inspection highlighted the unlevel ground and an extreme all-weather trap. Another problem to overcome was that the building may need to be re-sited in the future.

The design was based on simple construction ethics which were not only pleasing to the eye, but also ethically sympathetic to the surrounding environment. I also wanted it to give a sense of calmness and security to those inside. I wanted the building to have a feeling of movement, and one that visually changed from all angles and view points. It was important to me to use as many local materials as possible.

Blean Woods, Canterbury, sourcing the wood. The bark is stripped on site.

The main structure is made out of Chestnut from 'Blean Woods' which sympathetically I feel is losing its acknowledgement as a great durable hardwood. "It's not just for fencing posts!"

The frame is supported by metal feet, hinged onto metal plates, secured to the ground. The reason for this was to enable us to use Chestnut in the ground regardless of un-uniformity or size.

The dimensions are -
height - 5 metres, width - 7 metres, and length -25.7 metres.
Local Woodsman Geoff Hunt said "You're using small trees."

The medium chosen for the roof had to be light and weather resistant. We chose a high-tensile marquee roof material - flame resistant, anti-fungal, and U.V stabilized, known as 'Sion', which is stretched across the Chestnut frame and attached to the timbers. Visually, it has the sense of a laced mother's skirt, enhancing the idea of protection.

I feel that overall, the building has achieved its purpose and reached all expectations.

We are looking forward to working with the children to complete the artistic aspect, by carving their designs into the Chestnut, therefore landmarking this composition.


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