The Orchard

Location: Serge Hill, Hertfordshire
Type: Horticulture / Education / Community Space
Client: The Serge Hill Project For Gardening and Health
Collaborators: Tom Stuart-Smith, Structure Workshop
Duration: 2018 – Ongoing
Status: On-Site
Photographs: Agnese Sanvito, Frank Wu

Situated within the Green belt of St Albans City & District, the new build Orchard Barn and gardens will provide an educational resource in the interests of horticultural education, training and recreation and social welfare. The multifunctional barn building is constructed using a number of locally sourced natural materials, including hempcrete walls, oak cladding and an unfired clay floor

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The proposal acts as a contemporary interpretation of a threshing barn, combining traditional techniques such as cleft oak with large format glazing, mortarless brick coursing and corrugated aluminium roofing. Innovative low carbon construction methods are employed throughout the building, including a precision offsite-manufactured timber structure and unfired clay blocks to form the floors. Natural materials used in the construction have been sourced and prepared within 10 miles of the site.

The proposal will facilitate the education of the public in the subjects of sustainable horticulture, psychological wellbeing and care of the environment, while improving people’s quality of life through community gardening, growing, horticultural projects and community events. The flexible community space will house local primary and secondary schools, youth organisations and mental health charities, as well as local residents.

The project is part of an on going collaboration with The Serge Hill Project and Tom Stuart-Smith’s landscape studio and was granted planning permission on an undeveloped site in the Green Belt under ‘Very Special Circumstances’. For more information about the project: