The Woodland Hall
What is the project?
A round wood timber framed outdoor building using traditional skills.
When was it completed?
The Woodland Hall was designed and built in the summer of 2010 by Ben Law of Woodland House fame and his team (The Roundwood Timber Framing Company). Along with 5 volunteer trainees and local volunteers.
The build was funded by the kind generosity of the Mamie Mollan Trust.
Why is the project important?
When we build new buildings on site we choose to use local and natural materials as much as possible to reduce the embodied energy of the building. Embodied energy of buildings includes the energy the goes into making the materials , transporting them, and in the construction itself. Choosing materials that have not been transported far reduces fuel consumption and pollution as does choosing materials that do not require a high amount of energy and fuel to process. We also want to build structures that are in keeping aesthetically with the surroundings and which people enjoy to be in.
The Building Process
The requirement was to build a low impact building for multiple purpose. All of the wood, and most of the materials, were sourced from within a mile of The Sustainability Centre. This reduces the impact on the environment by limiting the amount of transportation required to the build site.
Natural materials are used rather than materials that require high amounts of energy and fuel to create.
The main structure uses Lawson Cypress softwood from our woodland that have little or no commercial value and the roof is made from sawn western red cedar shingles. We manage our woodland by thinning out the older conifer plantation timber and replanting with a diverse range of native broad-leaf species. This is creating an improved, more bio-diverse 'natural' woodland.
The design uses the technique of round wood timber framing. The bark is removed from the tree trunk, and the bare wood poles are used for the construction of the frame. This reduces the amount of energy, machinery and transportation required to make straight edged poles.
The Woodland Hall is partially earth-sheltered with cordwood walls to the north within which is a rumsford clay fireplace. The remainder is be open-sided, with canvas roll-down panels, which can be lowered to make the space cosy or raised to enjoy the beautiful woodland setting. The hall is furnished with folding tables and chairs, and circular benches made by final year coppice apprentice Peter Murray.
In accordance with our ethos, the building of the Woodland Hall has provided a number of educational opportunities for adults, children, and school groups including 4 five-week building apprenticeships and clay inspired activities.
Many of the apprentices have gone on to work within the field of timber framing or related projects.
What would we do differently?
There have been maintenance requirements to the building over the years and some features of the design may be different if the building was replicated. The exterior wood need to be treated earlier on as some replacements have been necessary.
In 2020 the roof shingles on the north side of the building started to rot during a very wet winter.
How we maintain it:
With the help of staff and volunteers the willow is regularly re-weaved into the side railings from our own coppiced willow. External posts have been replaced and the leaves are swept from building up around the posts to prevent from rotting. The roof shingles will need replacing.
The clay fireplace has cracked and is re surfaced with clay once a year.
How is it working today?
The Woodland Hall is used for various purposes including an outdoor classroom for school groups and adult learning, a service room for funerals and weddings, and a space for celebrations and music events.
Books and DVDs
Books and a DVD published by Permanent Publications tell the story of roundwood timber framing and feature our building too.
Copies are available online from Permanent Publications or in our shop.
Read more here in an article in the
Ecologist Magazine written by Maddy Harland.