Hill Holt Wood - Norton Disney, Lincolnshire, UK

founding member of social enterprise design-and-build studio
2009-present / Norton Disney, Lincolnshire, UK

Hill Holt Wood (HHW) is social enterprise founded in 2002, operating from ancient woodland in rural Lincolnshire with the aim of demonstrating that natural assets can be best preserved through their appropriate use, rather than by exclusion of people.

Establishing operations in the woodland presented the organisation with the opportunity to gain experience in the design and construction of low-impact buildings - and Sam worked with HHW as part of a small team of RIBA Part I architectural students to establish an outward-facing design-and-build consultancy to capitalise on this experience.

Projects illustrated below include a 32m2 self-built bunkhouse in the Woods, constructed from woodland timber and reclaimed materials at a cost of around £750; proposals and pilot projects for sustainability-led, neighbourhood regeneration in the town of Gainsborough, Lincolnshire; self-built ecological classrooms at Saltfleetby, on the Lincolnshire coast and at Screveton, near Nottingham; proposals for a woodland artists' studio using innovative construction techniques; and alterations to existing woodland buildings.

The placement was supported by De Montfort University and the RIBA which provided subsistence funding and a knowledge-transfer project (KTP) grant for the early stages of the placement. The operation quickly became profit-making and the studio - now Design:HHW - continues to offer training opportunities for architectural students and recent graduates. 

above - the 32sqm, 4-bedroom bunkhouse at Hill Holt Wood provides accomodation for medium-term visitors and volunteers and was self-built by its initial occupants using materials from the woods or reclaimed from local building site waste for a total project cost of around £750. The initial bedroom block was later expanded with the addition of composting toilets and a straw-bale kitchen-living space with a reciprocal timber roof.

above - Home Farm, in Bingham, nr. Nottingham provided space for farm-based social enterprise FarmECO Community Care Farm to base its operations, which include promoting traditional British aggriculture and cultivating artisan varieties of food crops and livestock.

above - the Woodland Community Hall was designed in collaboration with the Lincoln School of Architecture and built by Rangers and Learners using traditional building techniques such as limecrete foundation and rammed earth walls. It also features the only double reciprocal-frame roundwood timber roof structure in Europe.

above - flood-resilient eco-classroom at Natural England’s Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe Dunes reserve on the Lincolnshire coast.

above - Hill Holt Wood worked with West Lyndsey District Council to develop plans to retrofit streets of terraced homes in the town of Gainsborough in Lincolnshire. Plans included shared Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants and rainwater collection systems to be shared by the street, with one property per street given over to a ‘tied-house’ in which a worker servicing the systems would live. Hill Holt Wood went on to purchase several properties in the town, converting and retrofitting them using construction trainees, who then lived in the homes.

above - the Artists’ Woodland Studio and Guesthouse, designed to use low-grade timber from woodland managed by Hill Holt Wood in structural application and in doing so enhance its value.

above - reflective study of Hill Holt Wood as an organisation and economy conducted during the MArch Architecture course at the Sheffield School of Architecture.