Swan Barn Farm is a National Trust Property right next to the small town of Haslemere in Surrey. Being right on the town’s doorstep it offers a real opportunity for people to get involved in the countryside. It is made up of about 100 acres of ancient woodland and meadows as well as a small orchard and a number of ponds and streams. It is home to the Black Down Wardening team as well as to Hunter Basecamp.
The basecamp, pictured alongside, offers accomodation to volunteers who come for week long working holidays and work on a number of NT properties in the area. It is also the site for an exciting new project.
This project aims to extend the basecamp facilities by building new accomodation for long term volunteers. We want to demolish the shed you can see to the left of the basecamp and put a new building in its place.
From their base at Swan Barn Farm the Black Down Countryside team manage hundreds of acres of woodland, heathland and meadows. This countryside and its important wildlife is much loved by local people. We wanted the new building to reflect this landscape and to be constructed from materials sourced on the estate in an environmentally friendly manner.
The woodlands on the estate are managed primarily for public access and nature conservation. Large areas of them are traditional coppiced woodlands. The cyclical cutting of coppiced woodland provides ideal conditions for a wide range of woodland wildlife as well as providing timber for use on the estate.
We take our use of wood very seriously and have always tried to ensure that we are as self sufficient and environmentaly friendly as possible in its use, you can see the wardens producing fencing materials in one of the coppices in the pictures.
We have been working with local designer and woodsman Ben Law, you may have seen him building his house (shown below) on the Channel 4 programme Grand Designs. Ben has helped us to design an environmentaly friendly, locally sourced building which we can construct with the help of our volunteers.
The building will be constructed around a roundwood timber frame. This construction technique produces attractive, functional buildings that can be sourced from the local woods. Exterior walls will be made of straw bales which will then either be rendered with lime or protected with oak boards. Interior walls will be wattle and daub with earth plaster. The roof will be made of chestnut shingles.
We are hoping to start construction in 2011 depending on the planning approvals process, and anticipate this being a complicated process. We are also in the midst of fundraising for the project. Fortunately we have a number of very good advisors on the project team who will be helping to steer us through this and avoid the many potential pitfalls.
It’s going to be a fascinating process, one which people are already wanting either to get involved with or to find out more about. You can support the project here or follow progress on our blog: http://swanbarnfarm.wordpress.com.
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