Project Lacey Green

Tags: education, timber

Related projects: Amesbury School Visual Arts Building, Wimbledon College of Arts, Haiti Chapel

Project Lacey Green  - Webb Yates Engineers
Project Lacey Green  - Webb Yates Engineers
Project Lacey Green  - Webb Yates Engineers
Project Lacey Green  - Webb Yates Engineers
Project Lacey Green  - Webb Yates Engineers
Project Lacey Green  - Webb Yates Engineers
Project Lacey Green  - Webb Yates Engineers
Project Lacey Green  - Webb Yates Engineers
Project Lacey Green  - Webb Yates Engineers

St. John’s Music Pavilion is a new timber classroom for a state primary school in the Buckinghamshire village of Lacey Green. Initiated by Clementine Blakemore in 2014 as her final design project at the Royal College Art, and completed five years later, the building was completed incrementally in partnership with the local community.

The project was funded entirely through in-kind donations of materials, including the timber supplied by Hooke Park (a forest in West Dorset owned and managed by the Architectural Association School of Architecture) and was fabricated at Grysmdyke Farm, a research and workshop facility in Lacey Green. The massing of the structure with the double pitch volume takes influence from the vernacular barns and outhouses of the local area. The structural design was developed as a reciprocal timber frame, with each member resting on the adjacent one to create an interlocking lattice.

The collaborative ‘live build’ project formed part of a larger research project and was constructed in two phases. Phase one saw the design, fabrication and erection of the main timber structure. The construction took place in two weeks by students on a design and build programme and the resulting space was initially used as an open-air canopy. Stage two involved enclosing and insulating the space to form an additional classroom for the school. Bi-folding doors open to the grassy mounds of the school which double as an audience viewing area. 

The tight budget and phasing of the project presented obvious technical design challenges but led to lean solutions and facilitated a long-term funding process. Construction of Phase Two was carried out by Timber Workshop, who worked hard to retain as much of the original cladding as possible and restore the timber frame which was expressed internally. Funding from Wycombe Council was used to commission a local furniture fabricator Design & Making to design bespoke built-in storage and seating around the perimeter of the space. The finished structure uses multiple species of timber creating an interesting pallet of colour and textures.

Project Lacey Green celebrates traditional timber craftmanship and reflects the ethos of collaboration and interdependence within the project. The completed building was opened in March 2019 and has been in use as a much-needed music room since then.