Part 2 – Year 1 – Semester 2

MArch Architecture – Year 1 – Semester 2 – ‘Holkham Intervention’

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As described in my previous project – ‘Year 1 – Semester 1/2’, ultimately the human intervention of Pine planting created a boundary to Holkham estate, which later naturally formed and protected the large sand dunes enjoyed by visitors and animals today.

During my various site visits and thorough desktop research, I encountered several rare bird species which had, in the past fifty years become regular to Norfolk’s coastline and in particular Holkham’s shore. I decided in the end to base my Semester 2 project on the protection, education and close preservation of these species with an aspiration to have minimal impact on the landscape and utilise the height / scale of the sand dunes and pine trees effectively.

Desktop research presented various problems with the existing bird watching facilities and educational reserves in Norfolk, mostly obtrusive in the landscape, non organic and a distraction for birds that seek shelter elsewhere as a result. Those facilities that did manage to conceal themselves did so on their own terms and at the expense of habitat and with little consideration to the animals affected by construction but also during future use.

Keeping in mind my aspirations to utilise the height of the Holkhams famous sand dune and pine forest formation and with a view to having little or no impact on the ground surrounding my proposal, I decided quite early on that my building would meet the birds at eye level and sit within the existing tree canopies.

Further detailed studies of bird movement and migration patterns across the bay and into Holkham marshes illustrated various routes taken by particularly special species, up and over the trees, but breaking into openings in the canopy top where possible travelling inland from the coast. I decided to plot this information digitally and let the flight paths themselves inform my initial massing for the building so as to have little impact on flight layouts and surrounding habitat. For access and aesthetics, I decided to base the lower floor of my proposal on the top of the taller sand dunes creating a starting platform 55% of the way up from the forest floor to the canopy.

With seasonal changes in the forest, records show that the pine needles regularly shift and fall depending on climatic conditions in the area and as such it became important that my design was able to constantly evolve to suit these changes accordingly. To accommodate this I explored various structural models to enable a fixed structure with a movable, changeable facade.

The structural investigations I made into pine trunks and branches, revealed that Scots pine has both an impressive compressive and tensile strength and as a result I made the decision to utilise this by mounting my lightweight floor plates to the trees in-situ via adjustable collars, lined with rubber grommets to protect the trunks. From here I then clad the public areas in a fine, flexible steel mesh which would enable semi-weatherproofing on the upper decks but also for pine needles / debris to fall through openings created by the movement of the structure, therefore making the Corten enclosures of the closed structure below more of an organic catch net for the forests discarded material, over time blending the structure into the forest canopy. The net facade was lifted and adjusted by tensile cables mounted to surrounding tree collars giving a structure that could adapt to that seasons flight patterns accordingly. The net also allowed cameras / binoculars to be inserted as and where the end user desired across the building.

Above is a selection of work from a much deeper investigation and package of finished work which I am happy to expand on. If you would like to CONTACT me in the usual way, please do and I will be happy to answer any questions.