Thisispaper Community
Join today.
Enter your email address to receive the latest news on emerging art, design, lifestyle and tech from Thisispaper, delivered straight to your inbox.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Instant access to new channels
The top stories curated daily
Weekly roundups of what's important
Weekly roundups of what's important
Original features and deep dives
Exclusive community features
@zaxarovcom
Jun 28, 2024

WonKy’s latest architectural endeavor, "The Clearing," situated in the heart of Lesnes Abbey Woods, London, epitomizes the harmonious marriage of functionality, sustainability, and community engagement.

This multi-functional education space is more than just a structure; it is an embodiment of principles that advocate for sustainable woodland management and nature conservation while fostering communal learning and interaction.

Lesnes Abbey Woods, an 88-hectare expanse of ancient woodland in southeast London, provides a rich historical and ecological context for this project. The strategic location on the final stop of the newly opened Elizabeth Line enhances its accessibility, inviting a broader audience to engage with the site’s offerings. The ruined abbey within the woods further imbues the site with a sense of historical continuity, linking past and present through thoughtful design.

Commissioned by the local authority in 2020, WonKy’s task was to co-design a space that resonates with the needs and aspirations of its diverse stakeholders, including estate managers, local volunteers, and educational bodies like the North West Kent Countryside Partnership and Creative Nature HQ. The project’s inception involved extensive community consultation and pilot events, ensuring that the final design was both practical and inspired.

At the heart of The Clearing is a large parachute, ingeniously repurposed to create an outdoor classroom and meeting place. This all-weather space, providing dappled lighting through its canopy, is both functional and symbolic of the communal effort involved in its setup. The act of erecting the parachute, using a catapult to sling it over a stainless-steel cable and securing it with wooden posts carved by local volunteers, is a ritual that fosters community spirit and engagement.

Drawing inspiration from the fishing net lofts of Hastings, the design includes a square tower, sheathed in Corten steel and featuring a translucent GRP lantern. This tower not only stores and dries the parachute but also serves as a monitoring station for ecological data, blending utility with environmental stewardship. The Corten steel cladding, with its weathered, rust-red patina, ensures the structure melds seamlessly with its natural surroundings, particularly resonant in the autumnal landscape.

The design’s centerpiece, a stage area with a metal roller shutter, provides a versatile space for demonstrations and performances, adapting to both covered and open-air settings. The use of a disused Corten steel shipping container for this purpose is a testament to WonKy’s resourcefulness and commitment to sustainability. By repurposing materials, the architects minimize waste and carbon footprint, aligning with the project's ecological ethos.

Complementing the stage are traditional greenwood woodworking tools—a treadle-operated pole lathe and a shave horse—stored securely when not in use but integral to the site's educational activities. The surrounding sheltered store, clad in sawtooth Corten steel, not only protects these tools but also offers a resting space for volunteers and woodworkers with its low concrete bench.

No items found.
Join +
We love less
but there is more.
Become a Thisispaper+ member today to unlock full access to our magazine, advanced tools, and support our work.
Join Thisispaper+
No items found.
@zaxarovcom
Jun 28, 2024

WonKy’s latest architectural endeavor, "The Clearing," situated in the heart of Lesnes Abbey Woods, London, epitomizes the harmonious marriage of functionality, sustainability, and community engagement.

This multi-functional education space is more than just a structure; it is an embodiment of principles that advocate for sustainable woodland management and nature conservation while fostering communal learning and interaction.

Lesnes Abbey Woods, an 88-hectare expanse of ancient woodland in southeast London, provides a rich historical and ecological context for this project. The strategic location on the final stop of the newly opened Elizabeth Line enhances its accessibility, inviting a broader audience to engage with the site’s offerings. The ruined abbey within the woods further imbues the site with a sense of historical continuity, linking past and present through thoughtful design.

Commissioned by the local authority in 2020, WonKy’s task was to co-design a space that resonates with the needs and aspirations of its diverse stakeholders, including estate managers, local volunteers, and educational bodies like the North West Kent Countryside Partnership and Creative Nature HQ. The project’s inception involved extensive community consultation and pilot events, ensuring that the final design was both practical and inspired.

At the heart of The Clearing is a large parachute, ingeniously repurposed to create an outdoor classroom and meeting place. This all-weather space, providing dappled lighting through its canopy, is both functional and symbolic of the communal effort involved in its setup. The act of erecting the parachute, using a catapult to sling it over a stainless-steel cable and securing it with wooden posts carved by local volunteers, is a ritual that fosters community spirit and engagement.

Drawing inspiration from the fishing net lofts of Hastings, the design includes a square tower, sheathed in Corten steel and featuring a translucent GRP lantern. This tower not only stores and dries the parachute but also serves as a monitoring station for ecological data, blending utility with environmental stewardship. The Corten steel cladding, with its weathered, rust-red patina, ensures the structure melds seamlessly with its natural surroundings, particularly resonant in the autumnal landscape.

The design’s centerpiece, a stage area with a metal roller shutter, provides a versatile space for demonstrations and performances, adapting to both covered and open-air settings. The use of a disused Corten steel shipping container for this purpose is a testament to WonKy’s resourcefulness and commitment to sustainability. By repurposing materials, the architects minimize waste and carbon footprint, aligning with the project's ecological ethos.

Complementing the stage are traditional greenwood woodworking tools—a treadle-operated pole lathe and a shave horse—stored securely when not in use but integral to the site's educational activities. The surrounding sheltered store, clad in sawtooth Corten steel, not only protects these tools but also offers a resting space for volunteers and woodworkers with its low concrete bench.

Architecture
section is proudly under the patronage of:
John Pawson

Independent publications like Thisispaper rely on support by readers and companies to be sustainable.

Current patron of Architecture Section:

If you are ready to book a slot, please use the following link:
Become a Patron

Introducing OS
An intimate space which helps creative minds thrive.
Discover. Share. Embrace.
Thisispaper Shop
Shop Now
Thisispaper+Travel Guides
Discover the most inspiring places and stories through carefully-curated travel guides.
Explore all GuidesExplore channels