Timothy Tasker Architects has designed an education centre for sustainable farming in the Cotswolds called FarmED, which comprises a trio of larch-clad buildings positioned around a yard.

Buildings.

Photos
Tim Crocker

FarmED is the brainchild of Ian and Celene Wilkinson, the managing directors of Cotswold Seeds, and is based at Honeydale Farm in Chipping Norton.

The Wilkinson’s seed business had made them increasingly aware of the detrimental impact of chemical treatments and the intensive growing of single crops on the soil, climate and natural biodiversity of farming in the UK. They set up FarmED in response, a demonstration farm that teaches sustainable and regenerative farming methods to farmers, governing bodies and researchers. 

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Facilities for conferences, events and demonstrations are designed by Timothy Tasker Architects and take the form of three gabled buildings, which are clad in larch and set around a courtyard.

The first of the blocks is the FarmED learning centre, which offers events space for up to 500 people, the second a dining hall and farm-to-table demonstration kitchen known as FarmEAT, and the third and smallest of the buildings is a dairy and tractor garage.

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It was important to the client that the architecture built to support the FarmED reflect the programme’s ethos and so rigorous effort has been made to reduce the embodied carbon of the project through material choices, techniques and recycling of defunct buildings.

Standard material sizes have been specified for both the structure and finishes in a bid to reduce waste and give potential for the materials to be reused in future, and the steel- and pine-framed buildings stand on foundations made from the crushed masonry of dilapidated structures cleared from the site. The roofs are made from zinc with 95% recycled content.

Local larch wood has been used to clad and line the buildings in place of masonry and plaster, and a layer of rockwool swapped for sheep’s wool insulation – switches the practice estimates in saving 32 tonnes of carbon.

“Honeydale has been an amazing opportunity to contribute our design thinking to a place that celebrates local craftsmanship, educates on the future of farming and makes a dedicated effort to positively contribute to the climate crisis,” says practice director Tim Tasker.

“Sustainably focused architecture – across any typology, be it a house, school, or public building – is easier to achieve without compromising on the quality and generosity of spaces than we think. Honeydale is a celebration and result of a dedicated client-architect partnership, where the occupants and environment were considered in harmony.”

Buildings.

The buildings are heated and powered by air source heat pumps and solar panels, while the deep overhang of the roofs on the southern side of the buildings help to allow the winter sun in and keep the summer sun out. Automated roof lights help passively cool the buildings, while rainwater from the roofs is recycled for use in the landscape and a reed bed treatment pond cleans run off.

“We knew architecture was going to be central to the success of Honeydale Farm. We could have put up some nice sheds to host our education programme and events, but instead we sought to use design to create a deeper impact and reiterate our ideas on regeneration,” says client Ian Wilkinson.

“The buildings work beautifully, they feel comfortable and natural, and importantly, they positively contribute to our farm and mission.”

Additional images and drawings