At the end of February I headed down to Hooke Park to document the felling of the Norway Spruce trees that we’re using for the structure. The trip was kindly set up by Hooke Park’s Manager Jez Ralph, and I was shown the felling process by the Forester Chris Scad and a felling contractor called Toby Sherwood. They were were carrying out the spring harvesting, which my order of wood had been included in. Although they felled a few trees, a lot of the saw logs were produced from trees blown over in storms last winter. We needed to get a few different dimensions out of the logs: 75mm x 200mm x 1.5 members for the lattice pieces, 25mm x 300mm x 6m for the roofing planks and 150mm x 150mm structural frame. The reason why we had to use such large pieces is that the Norway Spruce from Hooke is graded between C14 and C16 (very low stength). However, in the end the maximum length they were able to get out of the saw logs was 5.1m; to avoid an excessive number of lap joints in the frame, we decided to reduce the width of the building by one bay – and the consequence of this was that the structural frame could be reduced in most places to 100mm x 100mm.
On Friday, the load was delivered at the Farm, thanks to haulage provided in-kind by AET transport, just in time for the AA Visiting School which started on Saturday! We were joined by 11 participants from all around the world – Zina from Morocco, Jia from Pakistan, Chi Lam from Singapore, Taek from South Korea, Gabriella from Hungary, Lorenzo and Giulio from Italy, Stephen, George and Alex from the UK and Elizabeth from New Zealand. They’ll here for the next two weeks fabricating and assembling the timber frame, as well as developing designs for a set of prototype clay roof tiles. Unfortunately there’s been a hold-up on site, due to the proximity of a large ‘soak-away’ drain on the site, which has to be at least 5 meters away from any building – which means we have to apply for an amendment to the planning application, in order to adjust the position of the building on the site. But if all goes to plan, we should get approval for this within a month, in time to go ahead with the foundations and erection during St. John’s half term holiday in late May.