Structural Timber Awards - Scout Hut Shortlisted

Charlie Butterwick

September 2020

Awards

Nominated in two categories for Architect and Commercial Project of the Year 2020

Making a difference is what we go to work for but being shortlisted for the Structural Timber Awards is such a result for us! With the Scout Hut we have proven that using WikiHouse for community-led projects is viable and have shown how working in this way can make a scheme an integral part of a growing community.

This project has been such an amazing journey for us and we're so proud to have been a part of it. To see it so close to completion is a testament to the amazing work of the 2nd Whalley Range Scouts who have project managed and worked tirelessly on the final stages as well as all our fellow consultants and contractors. With scouting activities due to start up in person soon (fingers crossed) we're really excited to see this building in use and all the efforts put into it's creation brought to fruition.

Below is a short excerpt of our nomination form explaining the scheme and its importance.

Nominated in two categories for Architect and Commercial Project of the Year 2020

The brief was simple, replace the existing hall, kitchens and toilet block. The architectural solution created a larger now light filled hall, a larger entrance space, more appropriate kitchen with an access hatch to the hall, a new meeting room, storage space and a beautiful new toilet block. From the previously ramshackle collection of huts and sheds has emerged a community asset to be proud of, built by and for the locals who need it. With the facilities to host everything from Zumba to weddings alongside the Scouting activities it was designed for this building will ensure that the important and worthwhile work of the 2nd Whalley Range Scouts is continued and their ambitions of financial independence can be realised.

We feel that working with timber is in humankind’s DNA and we believe that this project required a visceral connection between the materials and the makers - between a troupe and their hut. We feel the aesthetic principles that drive us and the design match that with those of the scouts. The scouts and their ideals are embedded in nature, constructing things from natural materials, learning about, and protecting the environment, it was important the design reflected this and timber had to be at the heart of that. The construction system process allowed us to span further without adding to the technicality of the build, thus eliminating unskilled labour. Plywood allowed us to pre-fabricate parts small enough for all our volunteers to easily handle without the need for additional lifting equipment. The flat-pack assembly meant fun for everyone with instructions like a giant IKEA cupboard for people with some hard but enjoyable work with friends and neighbours.

Genuine community construction is a rare thing in the UK due to the time and skills required to engage in traditional building techniques. By utilising WikiHouse and WISA structural plywood we were able to involve everyone from children as young as 8 years old to their grandparents of 60 or more. They were able to turn up over three weekends, be handed a pair of gloves, a hi-viz and a mallet and set to work hammering together an actual building. This project’s innovative use of timber via the WikiHouse system is paralleled by its innovative use of volunteer time and energy. The construction system breaks down the building process to its most basic actions. That we have managed to achieve the level of quality, detailing and integrity for this project is something we are extremely proud of and has only been possible by designing the building from the ground up around this limited palette of volunteer competencies and the constraints of the plywood. By using these constraints as strengths we have saved the client around £20k as well as produced an environmentally sustainable and beautiful building that the whole community has a real connection to. From this project we have seen the power of construction to unite people behind a shared endeavour, an irreplaceable experience in the lives of the young Scouts which we hope will inspire the next generation of community-led architects and engineers. It is they who we believe will be truly ground-breaking.

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+44 (0)789 401 2780

info@architectureunknown.co.uk

Innopace, The Shed,

Chester Street, Manchester, M1 5GD

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