The Westonbirt National Arboretum di Gloucestershire is the most important arboretum in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1829 by Robert Holdford eand property of the Forestry Commission since 1956, it has a surface of approximately 600 acres and hosts a collection of over 15,000 trees and shrubs. In such an important context for the protection of biodiversity, the Invisible Studio architects chose to use materials with an extremely low ecological footprint.
As a matter of fact, the two buildings, a shed for machinery storage and a staff facility, necessary for the management of the arboretum, are realised with readily available materials. Indeed, the architects chose untreated timber available at the site, selecting trees well-known for their strength and reliability, such as oak, larch, black pine and Douglas fir. The use of these types of timber varied depending on the resistance characteristics required by the different parts of the structure. A good example of that are the beams of the shed trusses: for each of them, the trunk of a single tree was used that, with its curve, met the construction structural needs. The result is a column-free open space, where agricultural machinery can be used easily. The erection of the two buildings was based on a constant process of design and debate between architects, engineers and clients aimed at using all available materials in the most efficient way and keeping the building costs low.
Project: Invisible Studio
Location: The National Arboretum, Westonbirt, Tetbury, Gloucestershire UK
Photos: Andy Matthews