I have been privileged to work on the Speckled Wood project over the past few years. Speckled Wood is a sustainable new build, built by the National Trust as a home for long-term volunteers. It was designed by Ben Law, the woodman that everyone remembers from TV’s ‘Grand Designs’, and its sustainability largely comes from the fact that most of the materials for the build come from the estate on which it was built. It also has a log boiler, photovoltaic panels, solar hot water and a substantial rainwater harvesting system. The local community, volunteers and NT staff all got involved in the project in a variety of ways – not least, making thousands of roof shingles by hand.
The ‘people’ side of the project was not just about involvement with the build. Speckled Wood is adjacent to an NT base camp which also boasts a community orchard, bees, chickens, a vegetable plot and, not far away, a community allotment. To celebrate this, Speckled Wood has recently been shortlisted for a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors South East Award for community benefit.
We recently had a wrap up meeting to review what we had learned during the project. There were many lessons. One of the main lessons for me was the importance of drive and passion in initiating an innovative project such as this one. The building came about because of one man – the Head Warden, Dave Elliott – and we have all been inspired by Dave’s knowledge and determination. For more information about the project, please have a look at Dave’s blog: http://swanbarnfarm.wordpress.com/