Truss-Tea House - nr. Drewsteignton, Devon, UK

part of Studio In The Woods - short, intensive celebrations of designing through making
2009 / with Piers Taylor of Invisible Studio, Charley Brentnall of Carpenter Oak and WoodlandThomas Randall-Page, Gresford Architects and others.

Truss-Tea House was conceived of and built in 5 days of intensive experimentation by a loose collection of 11 practicing architects, artists, builders and students on a site next to the River Teign in the Dartmoor National Park, Devon.

The project explored the capacity of green timber to form trusses and cantilever horizontally and half-bridge the river, striving to meet the land property boundary that runs along its centre. At the end of the half-bridge is a meditative contemplation space with controlled views of flowing water below and swaying canopy above - filtering the surrounding environment and amplifying aspects of it to cultivate the phenomenon of losing oneself in the relative sensations of movement and stillness, with dangling feet and a view of the sky.

The structure connects the floor of the valley within which it sits with the river that lies concealed by dense foliage beyond its edge - and in the winter the river rises by up to two metres, brushing the aperture at the base of structure. In this way, the structure articulates its site and suggests ways to experience it that would not otherwise be possible.

Truss-Tea House was acknowledged in the ‘best of the rest’ of the 2010 AJ Small Projects Awards.

The project is part of Studio In The Woods - ongoing, annual summer workshops where students and practicing architects test ideas through making at 1:1 and build structures that arise from and respond to the place of their creation. Work begins with the observation of nature and place, before graduating to hypothesis and concept through group deliberation. Each group is given recently felled trees to work with and are responsible for the milling of their timber. We then become builders. You can read more about Studio In The Woods here.

Truss Tea House was part of the 2009 Dartmoor Arts Spatial Structures summer school. Although initially intended to remain in place for just two years, the structure remains almost a decade later - slowly decaying back into its surroundings.

The Truss-Tea House remains in 2017, eight years after its construction - slowly returning to its surroundings as nature reclaims the timber.

The structure was built under cover, transported a short distance from the workshop to the site of the installation and assembled on a bed of roundwood rollers to allow it to be safely rolled out over the river until the limit of its stiffness was reached.