The Oxford Trust, Stansfield Park, Oxford. 2018-present

For this project in three phases, OB1 LIVE collaborated with The Oxford Trust at their new science innovation and education centre at Stansfield Park. One of the missions of the education centre is to teach children in the early years of school about science through immersion in nature. The purpose of this live project was to design a Treehouse in the woods adjacent to the education centre. The Treehouse will enable children to spend more time learning in the woods when the weather is inclement.

The Treehouse needed to be accessible from the path for all users, regardless of age, ability or mobility. It has a central story-telling space that will be used all-year round, sheltering choldren from the weather without cutting them off from the nature that surrounds them.

Phase 1. With the advice of local timber recycling Social Enterprise, RAW and working in groups, students designed and built full scale Prototypes Pieces of the Treehouse: windows, doors, roofs, floors, walls, steps and furniture. The Prototype Pieces were demonstrated and tested with our collaborators from The Oxford Trust and RAW. They included an interactive rainwater collection / water play system, a moveable floor block / seating system and a projecting stained glass window space inspired by a drop of amber.

Phase 2. Working individually, students developed the brief for the whole Treehouse and designed the whole building within its steeply sloped and wooded context. Each student produced a model and a full set of general arrangement drawings. Proposals included a cob wall undercroft using the abundant clay soil on site; a structure inspired by the ability of trees to grow upwards towards the light; and a mathematically inspired cluster of geodesic domes.

Phase 3. Following a shortlisting process featuring the different solution types proposed by the cohort of students, Oxford Trust selected four proposals for further development. The four student designers worked together to combine their ideas into a single proposal with advice from the Quantity Surveyor. They created a set of General Arrangement Drawings, Details and a model which they presented as part of Science Oxford’s public lecture series “Science on your Doorstep”. This proposal is being used to help generate funding for the next stage of the project.

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