St John’s Pavilion
St. John’s is a small state primary school, located in the Buckinghamshire village of Lacey Green. The project to design and build a new music pavilion for the school was initiated as architects Clementine Blakemore’s final design thesis at the RCA in 2014. The building was completed incrementally in partnership with the local community and was funded entirely through in-kind donations of materials and funds raised through money raised by the school’s Parents’ Association.
The double-pitched timber structure, which was designed with Webb Yates Engineers, is formed of CNC-milled timber members assembled as an interlocking lattice. The structural concept of a reciprocal frame, with each member resting on the adjacent one, reflects the ethos of collaboration within the project as a whole. Focusing on community involvement, low energy consumption, natural light and renewable materials, the project won the Sustain RCA award in the ‘Visionary Processes’ category, received a RIBA McAslan Bursary, and has also recently been shortlisted for the 2019 Wood Awards. The collaborative ‘live build’ project formed part of a larger research project and was constructed in two phases.
Phase one saw the design, fabrication and erection of the main timber structure. The construction took place in two weeks and the resulting space was initially used as an open-air canopy. It was prototyped and fabricated at Grysmdyke Farm, a research and fabrication facility in the village, using timber donated by Hooke Park, a managed forest owned and run by the Architectural Association. All other materials and services were donated in kind. After the first two weeks, it was then completed over the next five months by Clementine Blakemore with the support of the school’s caretaker and volunteers. Phase One opened in 2015 and was initially used as an outdoor pavilion during the summer term.
Stage two involved enclosing and insulating the space to form an additional classroom for the school. There was dedicated fundraising for the second phase began in partnership with the school’s Parents’ Association in 2017, enabling the structure to be enclosed as a much-needed classroom. The back of the timber frame was clad in polycarbonate panels, which emit even indirect north light into the space all day, and insulation was added to the walls, roof and floor. The cladding on the sides of the structure was brought all the way down to the ground, and storage benches were installed around the perimeter of the room. A new stud wall was built within the front portal frame, and a full-width bi-folding door was installed in the larger of the two gables, allowing the space to open up to the grassy area in front of the building. The front facade was clad with a vertical larch rain screen and the black-stained timber weather-boarding was re-installed on the walls and roof, and re-painted. CIL funding from Wycombe Council enabled two local craftspeople to contribute to the second phase; Design & Making developed storage and seating solutions informed by the rich local furniture-making heritage whilst Karina Thomas’s work focused on improving the thermal insulation and acoustic performance of the space through the installation of a series of woven lambswool panels.
About the Wood Awards
The Wood Awards is the UK’s premier competition for excellence in architecture and product design in the world’s only naturally sustainable material. The Awards aim to recognise, encourage and promote outstanding design, craftsmanship and installation using wood.
The competition began in 1971 as the Carpenters’ Award and was rebranded in 2003 as the Wood Awards. The Awards have had an impact on the architectural and design landscape, becoming a ‘mark of excellence’ in wood with past Mears Group Gold Award Winners including Foster+Partners for Maggie’s at the Robert Parfett Building, 6a architects for Coastal House, Devon, and most recently, MUMA for Storey’s Field Centre & Eddington Nursery.
The Awards’ elite independent judging panel of professional experts and specialists not only judges the submitted entries but visits the shortlisted projects in person, making the Wood Awards as meaningful and rigorous a competition as possible.