Dorset is a county located in southwest England, about a 3.5 hour drive from London. Most of Dorset’s coastline is part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site which stretches for 155 kilometres between Studland and Exmouth in Devon. The high chalk escarpments and ridge tops of west Dorset offer uninterrupted panoramic views across the complex pattern and textures of the surrounding landscape. The site where we’ll be working is part of a designated ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, which gives it a special protected status.
The Dorset coast near Hooke at Eype
Hooke Park is the Architectural Association’s woodland site in Dorset. The 150-hectare working forest is owned and operated by the AA and contains a growing educational facility for design, workshop, construction and landscape-focused activities. Underlying these activities is the opportunity to develop new rural architectures and an ethic of material self-sufficiency. Today the campus presents a 30-year history of experimental timber construction and rural architecture. Under the previous ownership of the Parnham Trust’s School for Woodland Industries, three remarkable demonstrations of round-wood construction were built, which offer a valuable legacy and point of reference for today’s students. Following the transition of ownership to the AA in 2002, the masterplan for campus development was redrawn and continues, with new workshop and accommodation facilities designed and built by students of the AA’s Design & Make programme.
Aerial view of Hooke Park
The Kingcombe Center is a public nature reserve, run by the Dorset Wildlife Trust. It is based on the belief that the natural world, our place within it, and our mental and physical wellbeing are intimately linked. By providing a thoughtful, encouraging and inspirational environment in which its visitors can explore their route to connecting with and appreciating nature, it aims to support their learning experience. It seeks to encourage everyone, regardless of age, ability or knowledge, to explore the natural world at their own pace and discover the incredible things that can be found all around. By re-establishing the connections that a hundred years ago everyone took for granted, it believes we can build the support for the natural world that is needed if we are to safeguard it for future generations.
The river Hooke, running through Kingcombe meadows nature reserve – the site for our project
Common Ground is an arts and environmental charity based in Dorset. For the last thirty years it has worked both locally and nationally to create practical and philosophical ways of helping people build new relationships between culture and nature, collaborating widely across the arts and with academics, teachers, architects, gardeners, farmers, poets, botanists, film-makers, foresters and storytellers, all of whom help us seek new, imaginative ways to engage people with their local environment and celebrate the intimate connections communities have with the landscape that surrounds them.