The ‘New Vernaculars’ Kingcombe Visiting School ties into an ongoing research being carried out in partnership with Common Ground and the Dorset Wildlife Trust, 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.

Participants during the previous Kingcombe Visiting School (2017). Photo: Valerie Bennett

In 2018 we will continue to work with the Kingcombe Wildlife Centre, 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. 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.

Big Shed fabrication space at Hooke

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

The Design Museum pavilion in London, designed by Clementine Blakemore and built by Timber Workshop as part of the Co-Construction workshop with students from the RCA

The second week will be spent on-site at the Kingcombe Center, assembling the pre-fabricated structure. Throughout the workshop, we will be joined by a number of guest tutors and critics, including the architect Edmund Fowles (Director of Feilden Fowles) and the local furniture maker Alice Blogg. We will also be making visits to local artists such as Sarah Rapson, at her home and studio in Bridport.