The aim was to design a learning centre for all the typical requirements of Arboriculture certifications. The site was Ringinglow Bog, which a) forms part of the Sheffield Round Walk, and b) is used by local cattle farmers for pasture. The site, being peat bog, is ecologically delicate, and was then undergoing partial regeneration. Therefore, the project needed an emphasis on temporality, ephemerality, and low environmental impact. All the materials had to be locally sourced, everything had to be off-grid, and the building had to be designed for easy assembly and disassembly (with minimal impact on the soil).
This building sits at the threshold between forest and peatland, bridging the two. From the peatland side, its perforated facade echoes the rhythm of the tree trunks, creating a landmark, a division line in the landscape. From the inside, the plan echoes the structure of the tree to create layers of privacy and comfort. Towards the forested side, a row of windows creates a direct connection with the wilderness.
Attercliffe – a town with a wealthy and illustrious history thanks to its crucible steel industry. Today, it exists mainly as a thoroughfare for commuters between Sheffield and Rotherham, Meadowhall, Motorpoint Arena and the M1. Very little local community remains. Due to this and low land prices, it is largely occupied by specialist shops with primarily online clientèles. The Council seeks to rectify this through the ‘Attercliffe Action Plan‘.
For ‘The Huntsman’, urban regeneration was my main priority. The solution was to develop an emphasis on empowering local talent: it should provide a flexible performance space to allow freedom of vision, offer workshops for hire and still provide a place for locals to meet on non-performance days. The chalkboard-clad walls allow anybody can express their voice simply by leaving a message. The theatre attaches itself to an existing wall to celebrate the site rather than shut it out. To top it all off, the building is named after Benjamin Huntsman: the Attercliffe-based inventor of crucible steel.
Housing currently accounts for 40% of the total energy usage in Europe. In the UK: newer, energy efficient homes only make a tiny fraction of our total housing stock. A large majority dates back to the days before cavity walls, and retrofitting can be expensive and ineffective. However, the government is planning to introduce zero-carbon standards as a requirement for all new homes by next year. Their definition of zero-carbon includes “allowable solutions”: sourcing their energy from external renewable sources.
Right now, every country in the world is (or should be) aiming for 100% renewable power. Some have already achieved it thanks to hydroelectricity. The UK, which produces just 12% of its energy output through renewables, has no such luxury. Microgeneration can therefore play a key part of the solution.