Slimbridge Wildfowl & Wetland Trust (WWT), South Gloucestershire
We have been invited by the Trust on several occasions to build a variety of landmark structures at their site in Slimbridge, but also on a couple of sites elsewhere in the country.
Kingfisher Hide, 2008 We were first invited by Slimbridge WWT to run a natural plasters weekend to teach staff the skills to transform a kingfisher hide that had been built and help them blend the building into the surrounding natural landscape.
‘Back from the Brink’ - Cob Wetland Mammal Viewing Gallery & Otter Holt, 2009
As part of a larger project 'Back from the Brink', we were contracted to build a cob and timber frame viewing gallery to house the new exhibition of wetland mammals on the site. The cob walls in combination with a timber frame structure supports a living roof of wild flowers and are finished with a lime render and earthen plaster.
The design, conceived by Simon Rose of Slimbridge WWT aimed to be of the landscape in which it was located; the Trust wished to employ a more natural building method in line with its conservation philosophy, reflecting its immediate surroundings and local materials.
The project also supported the work of artists/crafts people from the wider South West incorporating sculpted timber work from both Doug King-Smith and Richard Ward-Leitso of Devon.
'Back from the Brink' was funded thanks to a legacy from the late Raymond Victor Safe, Viridor Credits Environmental Company, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Dorus Trust, The Olive Herbert Charitable Trust and WWT members.
With this build project they were successful in making the shortlist for The Sustain Magazine Awards in 2010 for category Sector One: Construction
‘Pondzone’ - Timber Frame Educational Space, 2010We were once again invited to be part of the exciting new developments on site, this time as part of their new amphibian breeding grounds, which included a play pond for younger children. Working with Julian Edmondson of Slimbridge WWT, we were contracted to build an exciting timber frame teaching structure to provide an educational space for visiting groups and a place for visitors to examine there pond dipping findings.
Green Health Enterprise, Shipley Park, Heanor
Cob Garden Shelter, 2005 Collaborating with Green Health Enterprise (formerly Green Health Partnership), a mental health horticulture & arts based charity, we worked closely with a small group of their clients to build a cob garden shelter which was to be a blank canvas for further community arts projects. Funded primarily by the Arts Council England 'Grants for the Arts' the project incorporated a number of artists' workshops including mosaics, woodcarving, stained glass and metalwork.
Wythenshawe Park, ManchesterCob Education Space, 2006A collaboration between Manchester City Council and Wythenshawe Park's Horticultural centre, we built this space to provides a starting point for further educational projects on site. Rackhouse and St Aidens primary schools were invited to participate in workshops to help build the sculpted cob bench as well as assist artists Cherry Cheung and Angela Sidwell with carving the entrance posts and weaving the willow and hazel shutters
Community Composting Network (CCN)
Grow Your Own Building Project, 2003
Funded by the New Opportunities fund through the Seed Programme and in kind funding from the CCN member sites, The Grow Your Own Building Project was an innovative touring project where we worked with a number of CCN sites holding a series of educational cob workshops to raise awareness of sustainable building and living. Open to a diverse range of people from the community, each project was left with a beautiful sculpted structure of practical benefit to the partner sites, serving as a public example of the benefits of sustainable building.
Offshoots Permaculture Project, Burnley
Bee Hive Cob Oven & Seating Area, 2003
Offshoots requested a demonstration cob seating area with cob oven that would compliment their existing on-site sustainable buildings. Inviting members of the local community to participate in a series of cob workshops to help build the shelter, it is now used by the site for celebratory events. Their on site bee hives inspired the theme of the oven.
Crossways Community Recyclers, Lancashire
Cob Meeting Space, 2003
Located at a large day centre for adults with learning difficulties, clients were invited to work with us to help us build a small cob meeting space to shelter volunteers from adverse weather and provide a feature building for community events held at the centre.
Friends of the Earth, Portsmouth
Cob Seating Area, 2003
Based at a community allotment site, the group invited us to build a sheltered seating area working with children from a local junior school. Close to the sea, the design included many nautical elements, including decorative fish, shells and an octopus holding up the back of the bench.
Newcastle Countryside Project, Staffordshire
Semi Circular Cob Seating & Shelter, 2003
N.C.P invited us to build an open sided shelter to house discussion groups and shelter visitors from adverse weather. The walls and seating included a geology display to reflect the industrial landscape and history of the Apedale valley.
Falmouth Green Centre, Cornwall
Cob Potting Shed, 2003
Working with a number of different volunteer and user groups, a beautiful sculpted potting shed was constructed to be used as part of a herb cultivation project. Cob was made using the material cut away from the banking to create a flat site for the building. Granite stone for the foundation came from a quarry a couple of miles away, and cedar round-wood timber for the roof from the Duchy of Cornwall's estate. Workshop participants worked vigorously on the building and included our oldest cobber so far at 86! The sculpted roots and tree window complimented the sheltered sylvan setting.
Offshoots Permaculture Project, Burnley
Cob Owl Oven & Bench, 2011
We were invited back here to help finish a cob seating area that had been initiated by some local artists. Working with volunteers during a training weekend we transformed a rather neglected seat into a ‘hooting tooting’ owl spectacular. Using the existing form, volunteers helped patch up the cob in disrepair and bring to life, an owl oven and bench with outstretched wings using rich earth and lime plaster finishes.
Norton Priory Museum & Gardens
Cob Seating, 2010
We were comissioned to build a cob seating for the entrance to the walled gardens. We ran cob building workshops with two local primary schools alongside a local artist delivering a mosaic workshop for a decorative feature to be incorporated on the wall behind the seating.
Old Trafford Amateur Gardeners Society (OTAGS)
Ladybird Cob Oven, 2010
A weekend cob oven workshop at this community allotment resulted in an insect and vegetable themed sculpted oven.
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Ipstones
Timber & Cob Youth Shelter, 2009
Working with members of the local youth group we ran a 2 day workshop to help build the seating for this shelter located on the local playing fields.
West Exe Children's Centre, Exeter
Cob Storytelling Space with Cob Oven, 2008
This project was commissioned by the Royal Albert Museum and West Exe Childrens Centre, to be used as a space to undertake creative projects with the nursery children, as well as being a focal point for events held at the centre. It was intended as both an example of sustainable design, and also to reflect the historical character and features found in local vernacular architecture such as its neighbouring ‘Bowhill’ within the fabric of the design.
Sure Start, Nelson
Pumpkin Cob Oven, 2006
Working with Sure Start, Nelson, near Burnley, a weekend workshop invited local residents to help build a pumpkin cob oven. Parents and children participated in both gardening and cob activities during the course of the weekend.
Beenleigh Meadows Farm, Haberton
Cob Oven & Animal Shelter, 2006
Awarded a grant from the National Lottery's 'Awards For All' scheme, we worked with several groups to build a sculpted cob oven to be used by the farm for the numerous community events they host and to start the walls for an animal shelter. The groups included South Devon Steiner School, BTCV in conjunction with a refugee group from Plymouth and young members of Community Supportive Farming. The projects aim was to reconnect people from urban environments to reconnect with the natural landscape and the farms from which their food comes from.
Pow Wow Eco Arts, Manchester
Sculpted Cob Chaise Longue, 2005/ Owl-Chicken Cob Oven, 2006 As part of a cob seating project, Pow Wow Eco Arts based at MERCI in Manchester, invited us to run a one day cob course during Green Architecture Week, where attendees of the conference got involved in different practical workshops.
The following year we were invited back to run a cob oven workshop at Fallowfields park in Manchester working with volunteers to create a resource for the local community park.
Chyan Community Field, Falmouth
Sea Serpent Cob Bench, 2005
Working with site members and part funded by a Living Spaces grant, a sheltered cob seating area was built for visitors to enjoy the site’s views and provide shelter for volunteers.
Paces Campus, Sheffield
Top Cat Cob Oven, 2004 Working with a local arts initiative, Paces Campus, a special needs school and community and leisure centre based in High Green, Sheffield was the location for this weekend cob oven building workshop. The oven is used by a variety of the centre’s groups including the youth club. The project was funded by the Fair Play Partnership small grants programme.
Heeley City Farm, Sheffield
Dragon Cob Oven & Seating, 2002
Built during a community workshop, this working bread oven and seating area evolved into the shape of a fire breathing dragon. Since then it has been used to cook tasty treats for events taking place at the farm, acting as a focus for community involvement at the site. Built with all local, mostly recycled and natural materials, the bench and oven is covered with a timber structure supporting a living roof planted with sedum.
Ovens & Seating
Venture Scotland, Glen Etive'
A neutral space for barriers to come down'
Outdoor Kitchen & Storytelling Area, 2009
Despite the challenging environment there is something special about running a course at the bothy and the collection of people it attracts. A mix of hard work, sharing stories around the fire, good hearty food and people who really look out for each other.Funded by the Heritage Lottery, as part of a larger project, we were invited to run an intensive 10 day training course where volunteers helped to build an outdoor kitchen and storytelling space at their bothy in the spectacular location of Glen Etive. Probably the most dramatic and remote place yet that we have built a structure!Working with 14 volunteers we set about building the start of the kitchen and seating area using cob and a roundpole timber frame which also included a cob Rumford fireplace and oven. Venture Scotland then went on to complete the structure over a series of weekends with more volunteers, passing on the knowledge they had acquired during the project.The aim of the project was to re-establish a mutually beneficial link between people and place to ultimately provide a social context for the user groups to experience traditional food, warmth and story telling in an otherwise inhospitable place.
Bothy Renovation - Lime Finishes 2011
We were very happy to be invited back to the Venture Scotland Bothy. The aim was to renovate the old byre that houses some bunk beds and make it a lighter and more hospitable space. As part of a week long training/volunteer project in lime finishes, participants gained valuable skills to use in their own lives and with work relating to the bothy. These included both the mixing and application of lime plasters and working with lime putty and Naturally Hydraulic Lime (NHL). The work culminated in the creation of a beautiful bas-relief reflecting the emotions, stories and physical landscape of the mountains.
A poem written collectively during one of the daily 'Cob Councils'
The bright light gives life,
nature never ceases to amaze me
Flying, opening up and letting it all out
Sun sparkling on water; stags watching
Chisels dazzling in the light
Third time lucky!
Seeing the big chunker near the end
Working in warm sunshine
Looked for stone but cannae find it
Together... we build inspiration and happiness
within an aura of creativity
We belong to something
Its a very very very very very fine house
When you're warm enough on the inside
the coldest mountain stream is refreshing
Smooth, sharp and soft sand against my cheek
Taken aback by this mass of production growing around me.
Past Projects: Community
By providing training opportunities to a variety of marginalised groups, our cob building workshops have provided people with the chance to learn building skills who may otherwise have been unable to, using conventional materials and techniques. The workshops aimed to not only increase people’s self confidence and empower them to access their creativity to bring about positive change to their own lives, communities and environments, but also raise awareness and educate them about the importance of sustainable building.
Providing each site with a valuable and lasting resource beyond the life of the build project, the communities have been left with a permanent structure of practical benefit to the user groups, enhancing the individual sites and serving as a public example of sustainable building.