The new Tree Management Centre for the Westonbirt National Aboretum in Gloucestershire is a big span workshop building, a new mess and educational facility, and a yard for the tree team. The critical ambition was to take advantage of the timber that Westonbirt have, and design a series of buildings that use this timber intelligently that could act as prototypes for rural buildings elsewhere, and, in terms of the Machinery Store, offer a big span timber alternative to the steel or concrete framed ‘Atcost’ rural barns.
We worked with timber specialist Charley Brentnall and engineers Buro Happold on 2 key buildings. The first, shown here, is a big span workshop that uses 20m long Corsican Pine members in continuous lengths. These members were hewn by hand into the requisite structural sections. The building was constructed entirely from green timber grown and milled on site at Westonbirt, with a series of interns and apprentices from the Carpenter’s Fellowship. The students were up-skilled through the process of working alongside master carpenters. The project built upon design processes and construction methods that have evolved through the construction of the Caretakers House and Visible Studio.