The Kingcombe Visiting School ties into an ongoing research being carried out in partnership with Common Ground, that aims to explore ways in which contemporary forms of rural architecture might emerge through an engagement with the landscape, culture and people of West Dorset. Through a two-phase project, developed in collaboration with local artists, craftspeople and ecologists, the aim is to produce a built structure which tests both innovative design ideas and methods of construction. At the centre of the project is an interest in locally sourced skills and materials, the accommodation of landscape and wildlife within architecture, community engagement, and interdisciplinary practice.

In 2018 we will continue to work with the Kingcombe Centre, a nature reserve run by the Dorset Wildlife Trust, which is located a few miles from Hooke Park – the AA’s rural campus in West Dorset. Building on the river-side pavilion that was completed during the 2017 workshop, this year’s project will focus on the completion of the boardwalk and the design of seating and spaces for play. This is the first project fabricated at Hooke Park to be installed outside of the campus itself for an independent client; as such it represents an exciting move towards local engagement.

Parts of the scheme will have been designed in advance so that the wood can be felled and milled before the workshop; participants will work collaboratively on independent but related design projects. We will be working between Hooke Park (fabricating the structure and developing ideas for the participant-designed aspects of the scheme) and on site at Kingcombe. In this way, we will be working fluidly between workshop, site and drawing board – allowing what we have learnt from the making process to inform how we design.