Flimwell Park East Sussex woodland development, Southern English Timber Homes, UK Architecture Photos
Flimwell Park East Sussex News
13 April 2022
Mixed typology: work spaces built on stilts, focal building, restaurant, earth-embanked lodges, and houses
Design: Architect Steve Johnson of The Architecture Ensemble
Flimwell Park : A mixed use woodland development brings disused land back to life
Location: Hawkhurst Rd, Flimwell, Ticehurst, Wadhurst, East Sussex, Southern England, UK
Photos by The Shoot Lab
Flimwell Park, East Sussex, Southern England
Flimwell Park, a pioneering mixed use sustainable woodland development in East Sussex, is nearing completion after a decade of consultation, planning and construction.
Formerly Flimwell Bird Park, the site located in an AONB in the heart of Flimwell, is a collaboration between property developer Regalmain Limited and architect Steve Johnson of The Architecture Ensemble. Along with a core team of foresters, ecologists, permaculturists to re-purpose the land, the site has been transformed into an inspiring new model for a sustainable woodland community that blends living, working, recreation and learning.
The site includes a series of eight timber two-storey work spaces built on stilts, a 900 sqm focal building and rooftop greenhouse and adjacent restaurant space all constructed to allow ample natural light as well as excellent viewing of the surrounding woodland. Ten earth-embanked lodges, five houses (two being project-linked) as well as further single-storey workspace are also part of the site.
Environmental, social, and economic sustainability has been at the heart of the construction, with all timber sustainably sourced and weathering steel used for the window bay cladding. Onsite solar power is generated from 300 photo-voltaic cells located on building roofs, cladding, and canopies, with a grid of solar thermal units heating water directly from the sun. The car park SUDS system is made from local stone, geo-textile filtering layers and recycled plastic open-grid surfacing making up the Truck Pav system. Six Tesla charging points have been installed, with two more charging points available for other electric car brands.
Recycled milk bottles and wood fibre make up the decking used on an elevated woodland walkway linking the eight stilted workplace buildings and rubber tiles made out of recycled tyres have been laid over the accessible roof terraces. There has been no ‘muck away’ from the site whatsoever, with all the excavated materials recycled and reused.
The water-rich woodland will become the focus of a series of projects looking at how a publicly-accessible ancient woodland can be improved to once again become an asset to the community as a producer of fibre, fuel, food and habitat – an ancient practice that is becoming relevant again in the 21st century.
Businesses already in residence include Wild Iris Spa, The Potters Studio, Sugar and Shutter Photography, cyber security company Lepide, co-working space The Hive, Swole Panda and Quench Cycles and Birchwood, a restaurant owned by renowned Michelin Green Star chef Will Devlin. The woodland is also home to the Weald at Heart Forest School.
University College London’s The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL Engineering, and The Slade School of Fine Art have been working in conjunction with Flimwell Park for some time and are finalising plans to deliver residential architecture, art, and engineering courses based upon the design and making of full scale prototype projects due to begin onsite in autumn 2021. The Focal Building, which is near completion and the largest building on site, will be the epicentre of learning and teaching opportunities, illustrating how architectural and woodland development can exist in an integrated and symbiotic relationship. This space will also host courses in conjunction with schools and colleges from Kent and East Sussex, as well as other educational institutions.
The Focal Building’s upper roof will be home to a food production greenhouse that will allow for the growing of ingredients for the onsite restaurant and day spa. Beyond this greenhouse is the viewing platform where visitors receive a spectacular elevated view over the site and beyond to the valley and hills of the High Weald.
Steve Johnson, Founder of London-based The Architecture Ensemble and teacher at The Bartlett School of Architecture, commented; “Flimwell Park has been a 10 year rural development dream come true. We will be breathing life back into 22 hectares of unused East Sussex Ancient Woodland, transforming a former brownfield section of the site into a central mixed-use living and working community space that will help the local community and region draw and attract financial and skills investment back into the area.
With UCL and The Bartlett School of Architecture taking residency at Flimwell Park, it will truly be an initiative where education for future, architects, landscape architects, engineers, designers, craftspeople and artists can take centre stage. Once running, these programs will be open to public view in the form of real research projects visibly happening on site and, we hope, in the area too.”
Director of Regalmain Ltd, Chris O’Callaghan, said; “Our aim is to show how architectural and woodland development can exist in a continuous, integrated and mutually beneficial relationship. Flimwell Park is about creating opportunities for woodland enterprise, recreation, diverse woodland conservation and education whilst harmonising all this with nature. The project has been a brilliant opportunity to experiment with alternative building methods too. It’s been an absolute joy to work on.”
Flimwell Park is the first development by Regalmain Ltd that has involved the whole O’Callaghan family. Christopher’s wife Rene heads up interiors and landscaping, eldest son Chris overseeing finance, daughter Stephanie in charge of planning and Patrick media and advertising.
For more information on Flimwell Park and what it has to offer, please visit www.flimwellpark.com.
Ghyll House in East Sussex, England – Building Information
Location: Flimwell Park, East Sussex
Type of project: Mixed use Woodland Development
Architect: Steve Johnson of The Architecture Ensemble
Developer: Regalmain Ltd
Structural engineer: Andy Trotman of Timberwright
M&E consultant: By client
Project and Construction Manager: Matt Blackwell
Construction company: Combi Construction Ltd.
Key Supplier: Combi Panel
Quantity surveyor: Blade Construction
Main contractor: Combi Construction Ltd.
Funding: Regalmain Ltd
Approved Building Inspector: Assent
Start on site date April 2018
Completion date July 2022
Contract duration Three years
Gross internal floor area N.A.
Form of contract and/or procurement No Contract
The Bartlett School of Architecture Education on e-architect
Photographs: The Shoot Lab
Flimwell Park Sussex woodland development images / information received 130422
Location: Hawkhurst Road, Flimwell, Ticehurst, Wadhurst TN5 7FJ, East Sussex, southern England, UK
Phone: 020 7794 9494
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