The concept for Langley Vale Visitor Hub is deeply entwined in the site’s woodland context and rural setting. Through the layout, structure and material specification, the proposal echoes the rhythm of native broad-leaf planting, while representing the regimentation of Lord Kitchener’s troops standing to attention. Trees can thrive for generations, outliving wars and transcending cultural shifts. It is this resilience, history and beauty that Studio Bark wish to harness. As a result, the trees evoke feelings of calm and permanence. Studio Bark provides an inspiring space for all to learn about the significance of trees and their role in our future.
Interpretation and Engagement
The orientation of the building follows the strong rectilinear lines of the surrounding trees, hedgerows and ploughed furrows. Studio Bark have maximised the views to the North, East and South that are located along the easterly edge of the proposed boundary. The proposed car park which is screened is to the West.
Whether arriving on foot, bike, or by car, visitors come to a colonnaded bookend which emerges through a dense spine of trees. This dramatic dappled approach invokes the spirit of exploration. It entices visitors and gradually reveals the building beyond. The ground deck floats just above the existing field level with proposed native grasses amongst the new planting. The main visitor space is at the South to make the most of views and natural light. However, all the services are located to the North, including: kitchen, office, flexible storage and externally accessible toilet block.
Studio Bark fully glazed the large, bright and airy main space with an intensive green roof above. The juxtaposed lightweight colonnade roof allows for maximum heat gains in the winter, yet provides solar shading for the sunnier months. In addition, generous doors open out onto the terrace, setting the scene for a possible picnic area. The long, spacious North-easterly corridor is an area of reflection away from the activity of the main space; complete with bench seating, uninterrupted views across the landscape and the potential to host exhibitions.
Studio Bark designed the building to be accessible and secure, compliant with the 2010 Equality Act and Secure by Design criteria. The flexible main space allows for a diverse range of activities, with potential for further development if visitor demands increase. Studio Bark designed the house on a rigorous and repetitive grid to reduce up-front costs. A simple palette of high-performing materials will reduce energy demand, in-use energy costs and on-going maintenance bills.
Materials, Energy, Sustainability & Durability
The locally sourced materials specified include: ‘Inside-Out’ beams and columns fabricated from Corsican pine; an innovative, sustainable and affordable method of using low-grade timber. Local larch or pine could be applied to the sheltered ceiling soffits. To balance this lightweight aesthetic, a heavyweight rammed earth wall has been proposed for the main colonnade. Furthermore, this low embodied energy wall continues through to the building’s reception area. As a result, it acts as thermal mass to help buffer and maintain a healthy internal environment. Composting toilets further reduce infrastructure requirements, alongside grey water recycling.
Who Will Make It
The simple and local material palette allows for a diverse range of social engagement opportunities. In particular, the fabrication of the rammed earth wall element can be an educational ‘live-build’ project. It would help raising the awareness of the Trust’s ethos and helping to establish local pride for the hub.