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UK Trust Granted Planning Consent for New Advanced Environmental Accommodation Building

Hetreed Ross Architects, Bath, has won planning consent for their exemplar environmentally advanced designs for a new 60 bed accommodation block for The Springhead Trust, Fontmell Magna, Dorset. Responding to a beautiful south facing streamside site, the new 55 metre building presents as an 'inhabited hedge-bank' between stream and roadside hedge, creating two special new routes for Springhead's visitors in the process.

Detailed design is under way with a trial build of a single room planned within the next few months, and the main building due on site early next year.

The Springhead Trust is a charity promoting creative arts, sustainable living & environmental education through residential courses for schoolchildren and a wide variety of adult groups, Springhead appeals to people of all ages. The primitive state of existing dormitory accommodation had begun to deter visitors, prompting the Trust to fund raise to build a new dormitory block.

Hetreed Ross Architects were appointed by competitive interview in February 2005 for a feasibility study and planning application.

Springhead nestles at the foot of chalk hills where springs bubble up into a shallow lake. Damming the lake, the listed Mill and Mill House form a courtyard together with two lesser outbuildings. A brook flows beneath, defining the streamside site for the new building.

The brief was for a flexible new building constructed using a sustainable approach and natural materials. The building had to able to provide both hotel quality adult double rooms and accommodation for school children as well. Hetreed Ross Architects innovative solution offers 14 en-suite rooms with a twin bed layout for adult visitors, with each room featuring a loft tucked into the high-rolling roof section over the en-suite to provide a further two beds, making each room ideal for family use or for four school children. Two of the 14 rooms are designed to wheelchair standards, with space for three wheelchair users at ground floor and three further beds at loft level.

The entire single storey building has been thoughtfully designed to advanced environmental standards. Built in low on the site, the new building hugs the earth within the beautiful surroundings of protected Dorset countryside. The environmental impact is minimal, sensitive and discrete: lime-rendered straw bale external walls enclose rooms defined by rammed earth partitions, set out under an exposed larch round pole roof structure. The roof itself will be insulated with straw bales and then capped with turf. A polished limecrete floor will be set over lightweight clay granules. The building will stand on foundations of aerated concrete block plinths over part lean-mix concrete and part crushed stone trench fill to minimise groundwater disturbance.

Hot water will be provided by solar thermal panels, alongside a demonstration array of photo-voltaics. Winter back up to the new building and adjacent outbuildings will be provided by a wood pellet boiler.

Architect Jonathan Hetreed commented. “The environmental, social and aesthetic aspirations embodied in the brief, the dedication and enthusiasm of the Trustees and the superlative qualities of Springhead as a place and a site has made this project truly special for us.

Chalk floors, rammed earth and straw bale walls, round pole roof structure and a turf finish will make this a truly local exercise in sustainable design and construction as well as a delightful and inspiring place to stay.”

Posted 13th September 2006

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